Aprilia, Yamaha enjoy historic Transanatolia Rally

The debut of the rally-prepped Aprilia Tuareg 660 outside of Italy resulted in a podium in Turkiye, while Yamaha made history by winning.

2023 Transanatolia Rally podium with Pol Tarres, Alessandro Botturi, Jacopo Cerutti

The Transanatolia Rally finished with an Aprilia Tuareg 660 on the podium in its first international race in Turkiye, while Yamaha made history.

Aprilia’s rally programme, a project named ‘Back to Africa’, had taken place solely in the Italian Motorally series until last week. In Italy, the Noale brand had found success, but the Transanatolia Rally in Turkiye was the brand’s chance to see how their raid-prepped Tuareg 660 could cope on the international stage.

The immediate impression was clearly a positive one, as Jacopo Cerutti finished on the podium in third place, completing the rally with overall victories on the two special stages that made up the final leg of the rally.

Cerutti said: “Today was a fantastic day with a double win in the specials and the leg. But all in all, I had a lot of fun in the Transanatolia, always pushing hard with the Tuareg. Finishing third overall after such a demanding week is a huge result for the Tuareg and great satisfaction to share with Aprilia Racing and GCorse. However, development on our bike does not stop. The next event is in Sardinia in October to make a play for the Italian Motorally title.”

Ahead of Cerutti on the podium was the pair of factory Yamaha riders. Alessandro Botturi took second place, while Pol Tarres took his first ever rally victory, and the first for a twin-cylinder adventure bike on the Transanatolia, beating the 450cc rally bikes.

Tarres said: “It is a dream come true! I still cannot believe I have won my first rally. I was leading since the third day, and I think I managed well at the front. I was opening the stage again today, so it was a real test of my navigation. I tried not to take any risks, and I am happy that I managed to bring it home and won the race by over 11 minutes in the end. 

“We had some strong competition here in Turkiye, so it means a lot to me, and to have Botturi in second is amazing for the team, Yamaha, and the entire project. I want to say thank you to everyone in the team for doing such a brilliant job, giving me such a good bike every day, and making it possible. Honestly, this is what dreams are made of!”

This article was originally published on 31 August 2023, and was updated with the above text on 13 September 2023. The original article can be read below.

Aprilia has announced its participation in the upcoming Transanatolia Rally in Turkey as the next stage on its journey back to the rally raids of Africa.

As part of its Back to Africa project, the Aprilia entry in the rally is part of a planned return to the African rally raids.

Announced earlier this year, the Back to Africa project involves Aprilia Tuareg 660 machinery prepared in rally raid specification in a collaboration between the Noale brand and GCorse, the company set up by former Ducati MotoGP test rider and team boss Vittoriano Guareschi and his brother Gianfranco.

Piloted by Aprilia factory riders Jacopo Cerutti and Francesco Montanari, the raid-prepped Tuaregs feature Ohlins suspension and an SC Project exhaust, as well as Metzeler tyres and an air filter from Sprint Filter. They’ve been competing in the Italian Motorally series this year, with Cerutti currently leading the G-1000 class for multi-cylinder bikes above 600cc.

Massimo Rivola - Aprilia Racing CEO - said: “The top priority of Aprilia Racing’s participation in the Transanatolia Rally is not the result. We are headed to Turkey to accumulate as much experience as possible in a setting that is brand new for us and which represents an extremely demanding test bench in view of the end goal - our return to African raids. Finishing the race will be fundamental in order to gather valuable data for the future to prepare for even more difficult events. 

“The Tuareg has been able to take home outstanding results from the beginning of this project and all this has been possible thanks to a stock product with an already excellent technical base and the efforts of everyone, from the Guareschi brothers to our riders.”

Vittoriano Guareschi - Project Leader for the Aprilia Back to Africa project - said: “The Transanatolia is an extremely important event for various reasons. We’ll be measuring up against many qualified adversaries in order to see how competitive the project is and it will also be essential to cover a lot of kilometres and gather data to see which areas need to be developed. 

“Both the riders, Jacopo [Cerutti] and Francesco [Montanari], will have the latest evolution of the bike available to them, which has many new chassis and engine upgrades. [...] Our priority remains developing the bike as quickly as possible.”

Jacopo Cerutti said: “The Transanatolia rally will be a great test bench because we’ll be tackling conditions which come closer to the African races in some respects compared with what we have become accustomed to in the Italian Motorally. 

“The goal is to successfully battle with the other twin-cylinders and - why not? - even try to stay up front in a few sections, although we mustn’t forget that our project is still quite young.”

The less experienced Francesco Montanari added: “The Transanatolia will be my first international rally and I’m going into it well aware that it will serve as great experience for me. 

“Understanding the race rhythms will be important for me, with much longer legs than the ones I'm accustomed to. In recent months, I’ve tried to prepare physically as best as possible and I'm certain that having an expert teammate like Jacopo by my side will help me.”

The 2023 Transanatolia Rally this weekend, taking place between 2-9 September, and will see its participants contest over 2,500km covering the distance from the Black Sea to the Aegean Sea.

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