|Helder Rodrigues|| |
Yamaha WR450F rider Helder Rodrigues has completed a decent â€˜warm-upâ€™ for the 2011 Dakar by taking the runner-up position overall after six stages of the Rally of Morocco. Wedged in between Cyril Despres and Marc Coma, Rodrigues can feel confident of his form and condition in the final weeks of preparation until the â€˜toughest rally in the worldâ€™ kicks off in Argentina on new yearâ€™s day. More than 150 competitors attempted the desert setting, dunes and rocky paths of the 2300km route over six days last week and the Portuguese was able to demonstrate that his WR450F is fettled for the new regulations at Dakar which sees the motorcycle category restricted solely to the 450cc capacity. The Rallye de Maroc has over 75 years of history. The 31 year old completed a consistent run and broke into the top three twice; finishing as runner-up on day two and then third on day four. In the final classification Rodrigues â€“ who recently secured 3rd in the 450cc division of the 2010 FIM Rally World Championship - was just over five minutes behind Despres. â€œI am really happy to be part of such a prestigious podium and this proves we are heading in a good way for Dakar,â€ Rodrigues said. â€œI have to take my hat off to the organisers of this Rally as it was superb and full of variety.â€ Spaniard Jordi Viladoms was fifth overall for two WR machines to place at the top end of the leader-board. â€œIt was a good week and I got to know the new bike really well,â€ he said. â€œI was really confident in the technical sections but we need to work a bit more to make the most in the quick parts and through the dunes. We will carry on testing to get ready.â€ Franceâ€™s Olivier Pain classified 4th in the sixth and last stage and stood seventh in the final table giving Yamaha a sizeable presence in the top ten.