Stage two of the 2020 Dakar Rally has proved to be a tough one for Monster Energy Yamaha Rally Team riders Xavier de Soultrait, Adrien Van Beveren and Franco Caimi. Faced with a 367-kilometre stage that they knew would feature arguably the most challenging navigation of the 12-day event, all riders found themselves caught in dust from other competitors and decided to proceed with caution.

Completing the stage in ninth, 13th and 14th positions respectively, all three riders successfully finished the first half of the super marathon stage without problems, but a little frustrated that they hadn’t been able to better maximise their advantageous start positions. Jamie McCanney, the team’s fourth member, also completed the demanding stage without issues, in 34th position. 

Finishing the stage as the team’s highest placed rider, Xavier de Soultrait initially improved from his 13th place starting position. Working his way up to ninth by the first waypoint he then struggled with dust and sensibly opted not to take any unnecessary risks. Once ahead of the riders in front of him he was able to increase his pace and safely complete the stage in a time of just over six minutes behind the day’s motorcycle-class winner. 

Focusing on his navigation possibly a little too intently, Adrien Van Beveren ended stage two having lost more time to his rivals than he wanted. Still not willing to push harder than he feels comfortable on the unforgiving Saudi terrain, Van Beveren nevertheless completed the first half of super marathon stage with no issues and looking to improve his speed and rhythm on stage three.

Franco Caimi was the Monster Energy Yamaha Rally Team rider who lost out the most on stage two. Riding at a strong pace up until around the 100-kilometre mark, a technical issue with his road book then slowed his pace. Forced to ride one-handed while manually advancing his road book, he dropped from a position comfortably within the top 10 to 14th. 

Enjoying the challenges of stage two, Jamie McCanney battled many hours of racing in dust, focusing hard on his roadbook and making sure he stayed on track throughout the day. Riding with others and increasing his pace during the second half of the stage, he sits in 32nd overall and as the second-best Dakar rookie.  

Stage three of the 2020 Dakar Rally, a loop stage from Neom to Neom featuring a 427 km timed special, will take competitors close to the border with Jordan with the rally reaching its highest point of 1,400 meters. Terrain will feature canyons, mountains and sand.

Xavier De Soultrait – Monster Energy Yamaha Rally Team

9th Stage 2

I had a lot of dust during the first 150-160 kilometres, so it was a balance between riding safely and also trying to overtake. Finally, when I managed to get ahead I could increase my speed and things went well. My goal is to be around the top 10 for the first four days or so, so things are ok for me. It looks like tomorrow the navigation will be a little easier, we will see. Everything is good with my bike, so I just hope I can have a clear day tomorrow with not too much dust.

Xavier De Soultrait – Monster Energy Yamaha Rally Team

Adrien Van Beveren – Monster Energy Yamaha Rally Team

13th Stage 2

It was a tough day for me, but importantly everything is good with my bike and ready for tomorrow. I really tried to focus on my navigation and do everything perfectly as we knew that today would be one of the hardest stages. But I lost some time and it looks like I was maybe too focused on navigation and needed to push harder, ride faster. Still a long way to go, but I need to find a good rhythm and balance between navigation and riding faster.

Adrien Van Beveren – Monster Energy Yamaha Rally Team

Franco Caimi – Monster Energy Yamaha Rally Team

14th Stage 2

It’s been a difficult stage for me. I was riding in a lot of dust at the start but managed to get ahead and push to do a good stage up to the refuelling. I think I was fifth or sixth, so I was very pleased. Then I had an issue with my road book, so I had to ride around 130 km with one hand, winding and following the road book manually. I lost a lot of time. It’s disappointing after a really good start to the stage, but it’s fixed now so I hope for a good stage three tomorrow.

Franco Caimi – Monster Energy Yamaha Rally Team

Jamie McCanney – Monster Energy Yamaha Rally Team

34th Stage 2

It’s been another good day of learning for me. Starting two riders every 30 seconds means I was in dust for so much of the stage. I just took things steady and concentrated on my navigation, making sure I hit all of my markers and did everything correctly. During the second half of the stage I tagged on to some of the riders that came passed me. I pushed on a little more, keeping an eye on navigation but being as focused as I was at the start. It was a good steady pace. The day wasn’t too physical. Despite the dust I enjoyed it and importantly gained more experience and learned more.

Jamie McCanney - Monster Energy Yamaha Rally Team

Alexandre Kowalski – Yamaha Europe Off-Road Racing Manager

It was a difficult and frustrating stage for our riders today. Starting behind several riders they spent a lot of time in dust and because it is still only the second day of the rally they didn’t want to take any risks trying to overtake. Franco was having a great day, very consistent, until 100 km before the finish. He had a technical issue with his road book, which meant he rode for 100 km winding the road book by hand. He’s understandably frustrated because he was around sixth and fighting with the leaders. But this is racing, still a strong performance. Xavier spent a lot of time in dust and, like Adrien, didn’t want to take any risks. For sure there will be more tough days ahead, but all the riders are in good spirits and looking forward to tomorrow. All bikes are in the parc ferme, all seems to be ok and Franco has managed to fix his road book.

Dakar Rally 2020

Stage 2 Provisional Classification

1. Ross Branch (KTM) 3:39:10
2. Sam Sunderland (KTM) 3:40:34 + 0:01:24
3. Pablo Quintanilla (Husqvarna) 3:41:31 + 0:02:21
4. Kevin Benavides (Honda) 3:42:50 + 0:03:40
5. Luciano Benavides (KTM) 3:42:54 + 0:03:44
6. Joan Barreda (Honda) 3:44:07 + 0:04:57

9. Xavier de Soultrait (Yamaha) 3:45:18 + 0:06:08
13. Adrien Van Beveren (Yamaha) 3:48:58 + 0:09:48
14. Franco Caimi (Yamaha) 3:49:00 + 0:09:50
34. Jamie McCanney (Yamaha) 4:18:47 + 0:39:37

Courtesy Yamaha