The Yamaha Ténéré World Raid Team raised the bar at the 2023 Morocco Desert Challenge, with Pol Tarrés finishing the rally in third overall and his teammate Rodney Faggotter in fourth, plus they secured a 1-2 in the Big Bike category.
The final stage at the Morocco Desert Challenge (MDC) was a 98km loop through the dunes of Erg Chebbi, starting and ending at the bivouac in Merzouga. After covering over 2,000km in eight days, the Ténéré World Raid Team once again created history by finishing the rally superbly, with Tarrés and Faggotter third and fourth in the general classification and securing a lockout of the top two places in the Big Bike class (600cc and above).
For Tarrés, it was his first overall podium in just his third rally. The Andorran made sure he ended the race in style by bringing his Ténéré 700 World Raid home on the last day in eleventh, with a time of one hour, 24 minutes and 43 seconds, safe in the knowledge that his advantage over his competitors behind him was never in doubt.
His overall time of 23 hours, 41 minutes and nine seconds showcased the ability of the 29-year-old and the potential of the Ténéré 700 World Raid machine, with the twin-cylinder adventure bike not missing a beat throughout the race and competing side by side with the 450cc prototypes. Tarrés was on the podium in five of the seven specials, with Stage 6 cancelled, highlighting the improvements made by the rider since his Rally Raid debut at the Tunisia Desert Challenge in 2022.
His teammate Faggotter finished Stage 8 in ninth, as the Australian returned to competitive rally racing for the first time since Dakar 2020 after setting a time of one hour, 23 minutes and forty seconds. This saw the three-time Dakar finisher, filling in for regular rider Alessandro Botturi who was forced to miss the MDC due to a schedule clash, claim fourth in the overall standings with a combined time of 24 hours, 14 minutes and 25 seconds.
The 47-year-old showed incredible consistency throughout the rally, despite suffering from bad luck on Stages 4 and 5 that saw him lose time, recording three podiums and finishing just 33 minutes and 26 seconds behind his teammate.
This ensured that the duo secured a 1-2 in the new for 2023 at the MDC Big Bike class, designed for motorcycles over 600cc, and in the process, wrote their name in the history books. After such a dominant display, the Ténéré World Raid Team are back in action at the Hellas Rally from the 21st-28th of May.
+ Pol Tarrés – P3 Overall (23hr 41m 09s)
“I feel that I am dreaming. I cannot believe that I finished on the podium in just my third rally. It is an incredible feeling. Apart from one navigational mistake on Stage 7, I had a perfect rally. Thanks to the team, my mechanic, and the incredible Ténéré 700 World Raid bike. The whole race it was superb, and we had zero issues. Bring on the next adventure at the Hellas Rally.”
+ Rodney Faggotter – P4 Overall (24hr 14m 35s)
“I am very proud of what we have achieved. For me, it was a new bike, a new team, my debut at the MDC, and the first time I had ridden in a race in three years, so I could not have asked for more. The Ténéré 700 World Raid was amazing. It did everything we asked of it and handled the dunes and rocky terrain superbly. Thanks to the team for all their hard work developing the bike and creating such a good atmosphere; it made it a good, fun rally. It was great to get the call to race, and I am happy with the results. To finish the rally in third and fourth and get the 1-2 in class is unbelievable. A job well done.”
+ Marc Bourgeois, Ténéré World Raid Team – Team Manager
“I am very, very happy! This was a new team with a different rider lineup and a new project. The riders did a great job, we missed Alessandro Botturi here, but Rodney stepped in and pulled off a superb result. For Pol, it is incredible to see how much he has developed as a rider in the last year, and I am excited to see what he is capable of. This is just the beginning of a long season, but to start in this way is incredible. The team created a good atmosphere and showed great spirit, and we have set the bar for what we want to achieve this year. It was also the first rally where we had the Ténéré Spirit Experience riders alongside the team, and it created a brilliant vibe and truly memorable eight days. Thanks to Pol & Rodney for bringing it home; now we change our focus to the Hellas Rally, a completely different challenge, in a few weeks.”