Yamalube Yamaha Rally Team rider Adrien Van Beveren has won the motorcycle class at the Merzouga Rally 2019. Posting the fastest time on the fifth and final day of competition, the Frenchman rode his WR450F Rally to his third stage win of the event, securing an impressive eventual winning margin of close to 25 minutes.
Putting the finishing touches to a highly-positive week in Morocco, Van Beveren took to the final day of competition knowing that victory was well within his grasp. After four full, long and demanding days of desert racing, mathematically simply finishing the final day’s Grand Prix des Dunes would have secured him the overall event win. In completing the event as he started it, with a stage victory, Van Beveren wrapped up a memorable Merzouga Rally for Yamaha as he headed home a final day one-two finish, with Dragon Yamaha’s rally rookie Jamie McCanney claiming the second fastest time.
Focused on using the 10th running of the Merzouga Rally as the start of his preparation towards the Dakar Rally 2020, arguably more important than Van Beveren’s winning result was the navigational experience gained from opening several long and challenging stages.
Starting the six-day event with a fourth-place result on the opening prologue Adrien topped the opening full day of competition by five minutes. Opening the track on day two he placed third, perfectly navigating his was throughout the stage. Day three again saw Van Beveren claim the win, extending his overall motorcycle class lead. Runner-up on the penultimate stage of the event, he topped the final day’s Grand Prix des Dunes to complete a near-perfect week and claim an important overall motorcycle class win.
Competing in his first ever rally event and racing on a Dragon Yamaha Rally Team prepared WR450F Rally, Jamie McCanney successfully completed the event. Constantly improving throughout the Moroccan competition, once past the opening few days the Manxman settled into the event to earn a well-deserved 11th place final result.
Adrien Van Beveren and the Yamalube Yamaha Rally Team will next compete in the Silk Way Rally, which takes place in Russia, Mongolia, and China from July 6.
Adrien Van Beveren
Yamalube Yamaha Rally Team
“Today was a really cool day – it was so much fun to have a mass-start and race together through the dunes. Also, getting to race with Jamie was super nice. Of course, it’s great also to end the event with another stage victory, but that is just an added bonus. I’ve had a great feeling with my bike throughout the week and I have to say a huge thanks to all the team, who have worked so hard to support me. The Merzouga Rally was all about improving. Improving my navigational skills, and generally starting our preparations ahead of Dakar 2020. We came here focused on improving and I absolutely feel that we did that. The navigation here is very tricky, so to be opening the tracks as much as I did, that gives me a lot of confidence. This is a great team result. Next, we have the Silk Way Rally, but before then there’s more testing and training to do. We keep working…”
Dragon Yamaha Rally Team
“The Merzouga Rally has been a great experience for me. I came here with one goal – to experience a rally for the first time and to learn. It’s been a steep learning curve, but a hugely positive experience. I feel that I progressed as the days went on. Missing one waypoint on day one cost me a lot of time, but I guess it’s good to learn from that mistake. Riding alone for 150-kilometres in competition is something I will remember for a long time. It’s been a great week here in Morocco and to have the support of such a positive, strong team has made it all the more enjoyable.”
Merzouga Rally 2019
Provisional Overall Final Classification
1. Adrien Van Beveren (FRA), Yamaha, 15:28:02
2. Ross Branch (BWA), KTM, 15:52:39 +24:37
3. Oriol Mena (ESP), Hero, 16:01:03 +33:01
4. Joaquim Rodrigues (PRT), Hero, 16:02:23 +34:21
5. Alessandro Botturi (ITA), Yamaha, 16:15:43 +46:41
6. Maurizio Gerini (ITA), Husqvarna, 16:23:53 +55:51
Words and Photos: Yamaha Racing