Photo Credit: Yamaha Racing
Enjoying the best possible end to his week-long adventure in the dunes of Morocco, Yamalube Yamaha Official Rally Team rider Xavier de Soultrait has won the final stage of the Afriquia Merzouga Rally to claim an emphatic overall victory at the 2017 edition of the event.
Wrapping up the rally in third overall his teammate Franco Caimi became the second of three Yamaha mounted riders to earn a spot inside the event's top five.
With the sixth and final stage of the rally involving a massive motocross-styled start and 50km of dune riding, it didn't take long for Xavier de Soultrait to take the lead.
Staying fast despite navigation becoming more difficult as the stage went on, the WR450F Rally mounted rider reached the finish first to ensure a winning end to his week in Morocco.
"To win this rally feels amazing,” told de Soultrait. “This is my first major victory in Africa and the best way to wrap up my first event as part of the team.
“This past six days I've learned a lot. I managed to improve my navigation and learn how to open the tracks while remaining fast. Being part of such a well-organised team was a great help too. I was really happy to see how motivated each person within the team was and that made me want to do even better.”
Claiming the overall victory at the Merzouga Rally 2017, Xavier becomes the third Yamaha rider to claim top honours in the eight-year-long history of the event. With it being Xavier's first major victory on African soil, it was also the perfect way for the Frenchman to end his debut event as part of the Yamalube Yamaha Official Rally Team.
Reaching the finish line of the stage less than a minute behind his Yamalube Yamaha Official Rally Team partner, Franco Caimi secured a strong third place in the rally's overall standings. The second WR450F Rally mounted rider to earn a podium result in this year's event, Franco demonstrated impressive speed during the six days of racing in Morocco.
For former Merzouga Rally winner Alessandro Botturi, this year's event ended with the Yamaha Italy supported rider earning a fifth place result in the overall standings. Taking advantage of his rally racing experience the Italian rode a solid race to become the third Yamaha mounted rider to claim a spot inside the event's top five.
Reporting: Yamaha Racing PR
Merzouga Rally 2017 - Final Overall Classification
1. Xavier de Soultrait (FRA), Yamaha, 14:54:36
2. Gerard Farres (ESP), KTM, 15:07:43, +13:07
3. Franco Caimi (ARG), Yamaha, 15:17:07, +22:31
4. Juan Pedrero (ESP), Sherco, 15:33:06, +38:30
5. Alessandro Botturi (ITA), Yamaha, 15:34:24, +39:48
6. Jacopo Cerutti (ITA), Husqvarna, 15:50:01, +55:25