Adrien van Beveren: “Returning to Merzouga is a no-brainer”

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After finishing sixth on the Dakar in his first participation, followed by a third consecutive triumph on the Touquet Enduropale, Adrien van Beveren is now among the most prominent riders in rally-raid.

For the native of northern France it all began last year on the Merzouga Rally where he got his first taste of the discipline, with sixth place overall, and victory on the final stage. This coming May 21-27, he will return to Morocco as a favourite for the win alongside his Yamaha team mates Helder Rodrigues and the 2015 Merzouga Rally victor, Alessandro Botturi. However, among the 40 riders already entered on the Dakar Series round run by Marc Coma (65 total, with the quads and SSVs), Van Beveren will also have to battle with this year’s Dakar runner-up, Slovakia’s Stefan Svitko. 

Adrien van Beveren, your race programme for 2016 will see you compete again in the Merzouga Rally. Will this be the chance for you to remember a few fond memories…? 

I really liked the Merzouga Rally. It was where I made my debut in the discipline and it went very well. The stages were varied, but there was a lot of sand and that is what I like most. For me, to go back to Merzouga is a no-brainer. I am already preparing for next year’s Dakar, and in my opinion, this race has to be a part of it. 

Looking back at your first Dakar experience, what did you learn on the Merzouga Rally? 

It is a very difficult rally when it comes to riding, because in addition to the sand and dune portions, there are also some very technical and sometimes torn up tracks. This forces you to be extremely vigilant, even more so with the long distances to cover and the stages, which follow one after the other. It is very important to put in the kilometres in competition. As for the navigation, it was also complicated, the tracks can be hard to find. Finally, it was very complicated and because of that I didn’t experience any surprises in South America. 

Following the results that you have gotten, are your ambitions greater this year? 

I still have a whole lot to learn, and I don’t want to take any shortcuts. I know that I have gotten into the habit of winning races. It is super and that is why I get up every morning. But I am not necessarily aiming for the win on the Merzouga Rally. My objective will not be to ride faster than I did last year, but to adapt my rhythm to the navigation, with the idea of making the fewest mistakes possible. Last year, I missed a way-point, which resulted in a one-hour penalty. This could cost me the victory, although the outcome of a rally can come from a crash, a mechanical problem or whatever.