Yamaha Desert Challenge introduced for 2024

Since 2019, Yamaha Motor Europe has operated the YXZ1000R European Cup, a stock Yamaha YXZ1000R spec championship that races across six countries and culminates in the SuperFinale. For 2024, they hope to move the Cup’s competitors from the forests and mountains of Europe to the desert of Morocco with the creation of the Yamaha Desert Challenge, which will take place alongside the final four stages of the Carta Rallye.

The Carta Rallye, whose eighth edition is scheduled for 3–9 March, is an amateur rally raid in Morocco overseen by Dakar Rally co-driver Sébastien Delaunay. The Yamaha Desert Challenge runs on the fifth through ninth, which takes the rally from Merzouga to M’Hamid. Competitors will be split into Race and Raid classes; Race is for Yamahas that meet Carta regulations and can compete alongside the main rally, while Raid is open to all vehicles regardless of specs and runs easier routes for the experience rather than competition.

The YXZ1000R Cup takes place in France, Germany, Italy, Portugal, Spain, and the United Kingdom, with at least three races in each country. The top national drivers are then invited to race in the SuperFinale, which was held in Portugal alongside the Baja Portalegre 500 in October. Ex-formula racer William Buller won in the Stock class, which earned him a €15,000 scholarship to run three rounds in the 2024 FIA European Baja Cup.

“After an incredible year in 2023, which saw twenty-seven crews racing against each other in the YXZ1000R European Cup SuperFinale at the Baja Portalegre, it is time to expand our SSV program with this exclusive new event,” said Yamaha Motor Europe racing head and Dakar veteran Camelia Liparoti. “It feels like a natural progression. With the YXZ1000R European Cup giving drivers and co-drivers a chance to experience driving across the continent, the next logical step was to provide them with the opportunity to taste what it is like to compete in Africa and experience the spectacular Moroccan dunes.

“I am delighted to have the two categories because the Race class will allow our more experienced crews to judge their potential as they compete alongside the main Carta Rallye participants but within their own separate classification. In contrast, the Raid class gives us a chance to allow newer teams to gain experience of what it is like to take part in an African rally raid but in a structured, guided way and without any of the stress. Everyone who takes part will also benefit from the exclusive Yamaha Academy, with expert coaches helping them prepare for the challenge ahead, plus they will experience what it is like to be a part of the Yamaha Racing family with our own special area in the paddock and dedicated support.”

Yamaha also competes in the World Rally-Raid Championship’s Challenger (former T3) class with some factory support for X-raid Team. The brand won two stages at the 2023 Dakar Rally, while four YXZ1000Rs are entered for the 2024 edition. Although they no longer have a factory bike racing programme, Yamaha operates the Ténéré Spirit Experience that enters Ténéré bike owners in amateur rallies like the unrelated Morocco Desert Challenge.

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