Yamaha Rally Team’s Adrien Van Beveren leads Africa Merzouga Rally as enduro riders, Jamie McCanney and Jaume Betriu, make their Rally debuts in the Moroccan desert.
With two major Rally events taking place this week in both Abu Dhabi, round one of the 2019 Cross-Country Rallies World Championship, and in Africa for the Merzouga Rally, it is a busy week for the big bikes in off road sport.
Among the competitors taking part in Africa at the Africa Merzouga Rally are two new recruits making their debuts: Jamie McCanney and Jaume Betriu.
Both riders are no strangers to us on enduro bikes but Merzouga is the first time we’ve seen either officially make an outing on rally machines. Merzouga is a tough place to start with renowned mixed terrain for riders and deliberately tricky navigation.
Which is precisely why they are competing in the Moroccan desert. Merzouga is an established place to learn the rally game and particularly the tricky navigation techniques needed for riders wanting to progress to race the Dakar Rally.
Since the official Yamaha Racing team dropped out of the World Enduro Championship, Jamie McCanney has been unofficially awaiting his rally debut under the wings of Outsiders Yamaha and team boss Marc Bourgeois.
McCanney is racing in the Dragon Rally Team prepared WR450F Rally machine, alongside official Yamaha Rally Team headed by Adrien Van Beveren.
Meanwhile Jaume Betriu is running his first Rally in a private team on a KTM Rally bike. Like McCanney, the Merzouga is throwing a steep learning curve for the experienced Spaniard but he's clearly loving the change of tack.
Metge takes stage two win, Van Beveren leads overall.
Tuesday's stage proved difficult for navigation with a 212km of special including a large dune sector around Merzouga, sandy stretches and a mountain crossing – very mixed riding terrain the competitors report.
Sherco Rally Team's Michael Metge followed up his victory in the prologue on Sunday with another win ahead of Oriol Mena on the Hero 1m16s behind and Adrien Van Beveren 1m34s back.
Rally leader entering the midway point is Yamaha Racing’s Adrien Van Beveren who opened a difficult stage but dropped very little time: “I spent the entire special opening the race and it was really tricky. Not losing more than a minute in these conditions is an outstanding result.
“The best way to train and improve is to race, and the Afriquia Merzouga Rally is the best rally to learn new things. If you can do well in a stage here, it means you're ready to take part in the Dakar. As for me, I hope I can win and dedicate the victory to all the Yamaha folks who support me.”
Stage 3: first day of marathon stage
A 229.59km special divided into two parts (89 km and 107 km) awaits riders on stage three. Organisers say it is “riddled with navigational pitfalls” and takes riders to the heart of the desert for the first half of the marathon stage, which leaves competitors without their assistance crews. The starry night will make for an unforgettable experience and boost the competitors' morale before they get going again in the early hours.
Africa Merzouga Rally overall results after stage two:
Photo credit: Yamaha Racing/Rally Zone Jon PearsonEnduro21 Editor and Bike Testerjon.firstname.lastname@example.org