The triple rally raid champion will take part in the T3 series with his navigator Álvaro León.
Ignacio Casale is back in charge of the Dakar Rally with a new project. The three-time champion of the most extreme rally in the world will contest the 45th edition of the competition in Saudi Arabia at the helm of a Yamaha UTV. And as a great novelty, he will do so for the first time as a factory rider of the tuning fork firm, the same brand with which he achieved glory in quads.
Being a factory rider was one of Casale’s great desires, since it is a status that allows the rider to focus only on riding, leaving mechanical problems to the team, which this time will be the prestigious X Raid , the same that supported MINI when it won the Dakar and now also supports Audi.
But what happened to the Tatra trucks, with which Casale has competed in recent years? The driver himself admitted that this year, when the sixth stage of the Dakar was going on and the truck caught fire, he thought it was time to look for other options.
“At that time I said that if we didn’t have a team that would give us the conditions to fight for first place, it was better to even skip a year, but luckily it was not necessary and we got a call from Yamaha, who invited us to meet and test the UTV in Morocco in September, where we were immediately convinced it was our option,” Casale clarified.
Regarding this test in the African country, the “Dog” commented that “he had been with the test for five minutes and I already knew that I would say yes to the proposal. I hadn’t lived with another vehicle, so we stayed in Morocco for about 20 days, sharing with the mechanics to get to know the UTV, because I wanted to know everything in case we had problems in the race”.
Premiere of the turbo engine
Ignacio Casale’s new vehicle is a Yamaha UTV with a 1.0-liter turbo engine that develops 180 hp. Built in the facilities of the X Raid team in Germany, it weighs almost 900 kilograms and, among some technical details, it is equipped with Reiger suspension.
Although it is a new vehicle, the category will not be new for the Chilean, since it has already taken place in the Syde by Side in 2019, an edition in which he abandoned in the sixth stage due to mechanical problems.
“When I rode a buggy in 2019 it was a very different vehicle. It was a UTV that we basically assembled in our shop, plus it was shorter so it had less stability than this new one that we tested in Morocco, but this experience, added to the training we did with Álvaro León on this type of model, allowed us to acquire hundreds of kilometers of experience and will allow us to arrive well prepared for the next Dakar”, commented Casale during the presentation.
Regarding the objectives he has set for the Dakar Rally which will take place from December 31, 2022 to January 15, 2023, the 35-year-old player admits that “I still have confidence that we can win, but you have to be careful and know that this will be Yamaha’s first year in UTVs with this turbo engine, so we’ll have to go bit by bit. On the Dakar, it’s not the fastest driver who wins, but the smartest and you have to put that into practice. Our objective is not to win stages and then be left behind, we will look for rhythm, so we hope to be in the top 5 every day and try to reach the podium at the end of the race”.