Frans Verhoeven (Yamaha Netherlands Verhoeven YZ450F Rally) says: “I’m physically and mentally prepared and ready to compete with the best rally riders in the world. I am very happy with my Yamaha YZ450F Rally; it is an update of the Dakar 2013 bike with several detail improvements. It proved to be very fast and reliable last year.
“The new country where we are racing is Bolivia, but that’s only half a day and a night in a marathon bivouac, so we’ll get along much of the land itself. I am looking forward to tackling the longer stages, partly because in recent years the courses were getting shorter and more explosive and longer and more difficult stages are perfect for me.”
Olivier Pain (Yamaha Factory Racing YZ450F Rally) says: “Just before the Dakar is a little bit like the calm before the storm. There are always some last minute things to attend to and you want to maintain your fitness levels but you also want to rest as much as possible and spend time with your family.
“Back in November the ASO made quite clear that the 2014 Dakar is going to be a hard one. We know that in Argentina it is likely to be very hot along the foothills of Andes and that in Chile we’ll have plenty of dunes and fesh-fesh. Want we don’t really know is what we’ll get in Bolivia. All we know is that we’ll be at altitude, which will make recuperation difficult and we won’t have any outside mechanical assistance. In addition we have another marathon stage and several days of bike only routes, all of which suggests January in South America won’t be much of a holiday. But then if it was none of us would want to be going!”
Mickael Metge (Yamaha Factory Racing YZ450F) says: “This is my second Dakar so I can’t make many comparisons with previous editions. Last year I was getting really tired and we didn’t have any stages over 500km. Now we have two stages over 500km and two over 600km! I was already training pretty hard but now I virtually live in the gym!
“This year I’m supporting Cyril whereas last year I didn’t have that responsibility. We have spent a lot of time together since he joined and we get on really well, which is important because in my role communication and understanding what ‘my’ rider needs is vital. I have been soaking up his knowledge and experience like a sponge. His approach to the Dakar is almost scientific, I’m not sure there’s anyone racing a rally bike today that has his depth of understanding and I’ve learnt loads just sitting chatting on the way to training sessions. To be honest now I can’t wait to get going.”