Yamaha has retained Olivier Pain and Michael Metge to race for its official factory team in the 2015 Dakar Rally. Pain and Metge will ride a new WR450F Rally currently being developed for the 2015 rally.
Both riders raced for the Yamaha team in this year’s rally; Pain finished third overall behind KTM Red Bull team’s Marc Coma and Jordi Viladoms while Metge rode as a support rider for fourth-place finisher Cyril Despres.
Pain has competed in eight Dakar Rally races, completing six of them. Apart from the 2009 and 2011 rallies where he was forced to withdraw, Pain’s results have been trending upwards, going from 28th overall in his Dakar debut in 2006 to third in this year’s Rally.
“After successively finishing 28th , 16th , 9th , 6th and 3rd in the Dakar Rally, my new goal is clearly to get my first overall win in 2015,” says Pain. “I’m really excited to work on this new project with Yamaha and we are on exactly the same wavelength.”
Racing on Despres’ team was an important learning opportunity for Metge. After all, what better teacher to have than a five-time Dakar Rally winner?
“I now have three rallies under my belt and these events taught me a lot. Being support rider for Cyril Despres was a chance, a great option to improve through intermediate. He taught me some skills and told me how to work on my weaknesses, which was a fantastic opportunity,” says Metge. “I’m ready to maximize the experience, now liberated from my previous function. Rally is a sport to be respected and I don’t want to cut any corners but I’m ready for this, highly motivated as my dream has come true.”
The 2015 Yamaha WR450F Rally is still under development. Pain and Metge will race the new machine in four different rallies to prepare for Dakar, beginning with the June 7-12 Sardegna Rally Race in Italy.
“Previous years, we only had one or two rallies for our preparation but during 2014 we will race four events and these tests will allow us to complete our physical preparation and refine our technical choices on the bike,” says Pain. “We hope to eliminate problems that may arise due to the heat and altitude, and increase the speed while retaining the reliability of the 450F in Rally version which was our biggest asset during the last Dakar.”