Courtesy of Yamaha Racing
Remaining strong and consistent throughout the week-long event in the dunes of Morocco, Yamalube Yamaha Official Rally Team rider Franco Caimi has earned a highly positive fourth place overall result at the 2018 Merzouga Rally.
A six-day-long adventure in the dunes and dusty trails of Morocco, the Merzouga Rally marked the Yamalube Yamaha Official Rally Team’s return to competition following the Dakar Rally in January. Continuing to make progress during the week in Morocco, the team were happy to see Caimi battle for the final podium from start to finish.
Proudly representing Yamaha at the 2018 edition of the Merzouga Rally, the WR450F Rally powered rider did not finish outside the top 10 in any of the stages contested, with his best performance being a runner-up result on the first rally stage.
Working hard during the last few months to further improve his speed and navigation, the rider from Argentina went head-to-head with the elite of international rally racers to eventually land less than eight minutes behind a provisional top three result.
Satisfied with the overall progress made in Morocco, the Yamalube Yamaha Official Rally Team will be now heading to Chile to contest round three of the 2018 FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship, the 2018 Atacama Rally on August 11 to 19.
Franco Caimi – Yamalube Yamaha Official Rally Team rider
“This year’s Merzouga Rally has been quite an adventure and I am really happy to wrap it up with fourth in the overall. Thinking about all the hours I’ve spent on my bike these last few days and all the small mistakes I could have avoided, I believe I could have gone even higher in the final standings but I can’t really complain. With the majority of top-level Dakar Rally riders racing this event it was a big learning experience for me. I felt good on my Yamaha from start to finish and, most importantly, we’ve made some big steps forward as a team and with me individually as a rally racer. Learning from the small details, everything was even better organised within our team and this was a massive help in the long stages. As for me, I’ve recently made some big changes in my training plans and my whole approach to racing and this paid off here in Morocco. The stage I enjoyed the most was the final one. We set off together in a motocross-styled start and I quickly managed to put myself in third. The stage was contested 100% in sand dunes and after an intense 40 minutes of racing I managed to bring my Yamaha home in a good position and secure fourth in the final standings. This week in Morocco we showed we’ve been making some steady progress and I hope it remains that way for the rest of the season.”
José Leloir – Yamalube Yamaha Official Rally Team manager
“This has been the best race Franco has contested since he joined our team last year and we are really satisfied with his results. Franco has been working really hard back in Argentina and all the hard work and dedication he has been putting in paid off here in Morocco. We went against the elite of international rally riders and the best riders from the Dakar Rally and we proved we can be highly competitive. Franco was consistently fast and got some top results in all of the stages contested here in Morocco. It’s been a highly positive week of racing for our team and we are happy with fourth overall. As a team, we’ve made some progress during this week and we hope to continue making steps forward during the rest of the season. The following event for us will be the Atacama Rally in August, and we will be heading to Chile hoping for some even better results in the overall.”
2018 Merzouga Rally – Final Overall Classification [Provisional]
1. Joan Barreda (Honda) 13:28:19
2. Kevin Benavides (Honda) 13:34:29
3. Pablo Quintanilla (Husqvarna) 13:39:44
4. Franco Caimi (Yamaha) 13:47:08
5. Ricky Brabec (Honda) 13:48:23
6. Toby Price (KTM) 13:49:23