Yamaha’s 2018 Dakar Rally Bike – a WR450F like no other The Yamalube Yamaha Official Rally Team bikes competing…
The Yamalube Yamaha Official Rally Team bikes competing the 2018 Dakar Rally are WR450F like you’ve never seen. Based on Yamaha’s four stroke 450 enduro model the factory rally bikes have undergone a dramatic and purposeful transformation to not just be competitive and the notoriously tough event, but potential podium finishers in this year’s Dakar.
Lining up against purpose designed and built race bikes from KTM and Honda it’s tempting to look at Yamaha as the best of the rest. But that underestimates big time the efforts and results of the dedicated Yamaha Rally crew under the directorship of Alexandre Kowalski.
Using Yamaha’s WR450F reversed cylinder engine a host of development Genuine Yamaha Technology Racing (GYTR) parts bring performance changes almost beyond recognition from the original base bike. A series of specially developed EFI fuel maps work with an Akrapovic titanium exhaust, which sweeps under the engine, plus larger volume air intake boost performance. Consistent performance during huge altitude changes are crucial for success in Dakar.
The Yamalube Yamaha Rally team say one of their priorities was achieving a neutral riding position, as close as possible to the stock WR450F enduro bike, but comfortable and controllable for the extensive hour riders spend riding during Dakar stages. Despite the 33 litre fuel tanks and additional oil capacity the current WR450F Rally bike weighs just 162kg fully fuelled.
The strengthened chassis is based on Yamaha’s WR450F aluminium frame but features a two centimetre longer swingarm for better high-speed stability and a modified offset of 25mm. In the suspension department, the new WR450F Rally combines a set of forks developed by BOS Suspension with a KYB Factory rear shock. Oversize 300mm Moto Master front disk handles the added loads of braking from higher speeds.
Yamaha Rally Team claim a podium is a realistic goal, with stage wins easily a target. The Yamalube Yamaha Official Rally Team of two Frenchmen Adrien Van Beveren and Xavier de Soultrait, Argentinian Franco Caimi and Australian Rodney Faggotter. In fact, Van Beveren was seconds from a podium in 2017; battling almost Sprint Enduro-style through the last stages he rounded out the 9000kms event within a minute of eventual third placed finisher, Gerrard Farres of the Himoinsa team.
Yamaha has been slowly rebuilding itself in rally in recent years, somewhere close to its former glory. With its French-based, factory supported team and some proven fast sand racers aboard they are serious challengers for Dakar 2018.
Dakar 2018 kicks off on January 6th in Peru.