Yamaha to enter two rally raids in 2022 with Tenere 700 World Raid

Yamaha is set to compete in two rally raid events in the coming months, debuting the new Tenere 700 World Raid machine in competition. 

Yamaha Rebel X Sports Africa Eco Race team with Pol Tarres and Manuel Botturi. - Yamaha Racing.

Yamaha has announced today (12 April 2022) that it will be competing in the Africa Eco Race later this year, as well as the Tunisian Desert Challenge in preparation for the AER.

Yamaha’s launch of the new Tenere 700 World Raid earlier this year came along with the announcement of the manufacturer’s withdrawal as a factory effort from rally competition. This announcement shows that Yamaha still has interests in rally competition, with the preparation for the Africa Eco Race (AER) being conducted in the Tunisian Desert Challenge on 21-29 April.

This announcement from Yamaha also comes with the news that they will be teaming up with the official MotoGP charity, Riders for Health, in order to “raise awareness of the tremendous work carried out by the charity supplying, managing and maintaining motorcycles for health-focused operations in Africa,” according to Yamaha.

Yamaha’s factory effort for the AER will be run by the Rebel X Sports team, run by Manuel Lucchese - an experienced rally raid competitor in his own right. 

Lucchese’s outfit will prepare and run the modified Tenere 700 World Raid machines, which will be fitted with KYB suspension, a larger fuel tank, as well as Genuine Yamaha Technology Racing (GYTR) parts “to better withstand the extreme demands of a competitive rally raid,” according to a press release from Yamaha.

“Yamaha’s goal in approaching a 12 stage African rally with a production machine is to prove the exceptional DNA of the new Ténéré World Raid, but also to prepare an extensive customer program, which aims to support the racing spirit of Ténéré customers participating in national activities right up to international long distance Rally Raid events,” Yamaha says.

The two bikes will be piloted by Alessandro Botturi and Pol Tarres. Botturi is an ex-enduro and trials rider, with International Six-Day Trial championships in 2005 and 2007, as well as victories in the last two editions (2019 and 2020) of the Africa Eco Race. 

In anticipation of the Tunisian Desert Challenge later this month, Botturi said, “In a few weeks, we begin this great adventure with the Yamaha Ténéré World Raid Team. I cannot wait to ride the new bike in Tunisia, and the goal is not only to finish the rally but to gain as much data and knowledge as possible to make us stronger.”

Tarres is also a former enduro rider, and has found fame through his “Seeker” movie on YouTube. Ahead of the Tunisian event, Tarres said, “We have been working a lot on the bike already, and it feels incredible. I am excited to head to Tunisia because it will be a great shakedown and training to get us ready for the challenge of the main event this year.”

The Spaniard added, “I have a lot to learn, but I am determined to do my best and push as hard as I can to bring home the best result possible.”
Yamaha Motor Europe’s Marketing and Motorsport Director, Paolo Pavesio, said, “This is just the beginning of the journey; based on our experience this year we will grow the customer program ready for the 2023 season.”

Pavesio continued, “We're also very happy to be teaming up with Riders for Health, using our participation in the rally to raise awareness of the incredible work they do in providing much needed medical support to rural communities in Africa using motorcycles as the primary form of transport. The presence of their logos on our bike and riders is just the first step in our collaboration."

The Africa Eco Race will take place later this year, running from 15-30 October.