The Yamaha X-raid YXZ1000R prototype debuted at Baja Hail 2 in Saudi Arabia on December 14-15.
Photos Courtesy of Yamaha Racing
With support from Yamaha Motor Europe, X-raid will field two of the YXZ1000R prototype machines under the X-raid Yamaha Racing Rally Supported Team banner at the Dakar.
One machine will be driven by Yamaha’s experienced Rally Raid competitor Camelia Liparoti who, together with co-driver Annett Fischer, has twice finished the grueling event in a standard YXZ1000R. The second prototype will be raced by two-time DTM Champion Mattias Ekstrom, with fellow Swede Emil Bergkvist alongside him in the co-driver’s seat.
The Prototype: Development Through Racing
The X-raid developed YXZ1000R prototype is wider than the original, with a longer wheelbase, while the centre of gravity has been lowered. Together these dimensions provide better grip and stability. The new tubular chassis gives greater strength and is designed to meet FIA regulations while maintaining the instantly recognizable YXZ1000R body design, partly recreated from lightweight materials such as aluminum and carbon fiber.
The driveline and 998cc DOHC inline three-cylinder engine remains largely unchanged, with the exception of various GYTR (Genuine Yamaha Technology Racing) parts to further improve performance and a reinforced rear driveshaft to withstand the most extreme environments. Ease of engine and gearbox serviceability has been improved by the use of various sub-frames, critical in self-supported long-distance rallies.
To deal with the rough terrain, X-raid has extended and reinforced the front and rear suspension arms, allowing the shock absorbers to be moved outwards, creating more stability. The uprated braking system further improves the YXZ1000R prototype’s performance.
The X-raid Yamaha YXZ1000R Teams
Established in 2002 and boasting five Dakar Rally wins, as well as numerous other victories in various cross-country rallies across the world, X-raid is a driving force in Rally Raid. The 11-time FIA World Cup for Cross Country Rallies champions are also multiple Baja winners and will be running a shakedown at the second Baja Hail event in Saudi Arabia (14-15 December) for the YXZ1000R prototype.
A six-time Ladies Quad World Champion and 10 times a Dakar finisher in both Quad and SxS classes, Camelia Liparoti will be joined once again by co-driver Annett Fischer to shakedown and compete with the YXZ1000R prototype in the Baja Hail race. The pair will return to Saudi Arabia in January to race the 2021 Dakar Rally, where they will be the only all-female team for the second year in succession.
2016 FIA World Rallycross Champion Mattias Ekstrom will also be an integral part of the YXZ1000R prototype development program, with the Swedish driver, together with co-driver Emil Bergkvist, set to contest both the Baja Hail and Dakar Rallies with the X-raid Yamaha Racing Rally Supported Team.
X-raid Yamaha YXZ1000R Prototype Victorious on Debut at Baja Hail
The YXZ1000R prototype–based on the YXZ1000R–completed its shakedown test by racing in December’s Baja Hail 2 in Saudi Arabia. Here is a recap of Baja Hail 2 from Yamaha Racing:
Mattias Ekström and Emil Bergkvist took victory in the National T3 class at Baja Hail 2, to conclude a successful first shakedown test for the X-raid developed Yamaha YXZ1000R prototype. The Swedish duo’s teammates, Camelia Liparoti and Annett Fischer, made it an X-raid Yamaha one-two by finishing in second place on their first outing in the YXZ1000R prototype.
The two X-raid Yamaha Racing Rally crews were competing at Baja Hail to familiarise themselves with both the YXZ1000R prototype and the terrain, which is similar to what they will encounter when they return to Saudi Arabia in January to contest the Dakar Rally. For Ekström, Baja Hail was also an opportunity to experience racing a Rally Raid event for the very first time.
Work will continue on the YXZ1000R prototype, with the data collected and lessons learned during the two-day Baja Hail event integrated into the ongoing development process ahead of the X-raid Yamaha Racing Rally Team’s next outing at the 2021 Dakar Rally, which gets underway in the port city of Jeddah on 3rd January.
Mattias Ekström | X-raid Yamaha Racing Rally Team
The first day was really exciting for me, and the special stage was a challenge from start to finish. I was very positively surprised by how much fun it was. We did not have any technical issues, and everything went well with regard to the navigation. The route was totally different on the second day much faster with a lot of straight sections, and navigation was more difficult. All in all, it is an awful lot of fun but also difficult, particularly the navigation and roadbook. Furthermore, I still have to get used to the Yamaha YXZ1000R, which is totally different to drive compared to the race cars I have driven previously. However, getting the car home without any technical issues and in one piece is cause for celebration.
Camelia Liparoti | X-raid Yamaha Racing Rally Team
Driving the Baja with the new Yamaha was great fun. I am pleased that we were able to take part in the Baja before the Dakar, as the car is brand-new and every kilometre is important. We also had to make a few modifications. The routes for the past two days were very varied: yesterday was very technical, today there were a lot of fast sections. That was really beneficial, as we were able to test the car in different situations. The X-raid Yamaha was very good and had no issues. I am very happy with the result. We may only have been competing in the National class, but this is only for locals who know the region like the back of their hand.
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