Hello, today we’re going to introduce you to Adrien Van Beveren. We would have liked to have shown you the Dakar rider in South America on his Yamaha, but it was a bit too far. Especially in a Laguna. So we had to go to see him at his home. He lives in the north…damn, I hope we brought enough warm clothes! – When do we get there?
– Soon, my son. Soon. So we set off in the car to go and meet Adrien Van Beveren. The name doesn’t ring any bells? Well you’re wrong! Because after he won the famous Le Touquet Endurance race 3 times, the young rider of scarcely 24 years took to rally raid like a duck to water, finishing 6th in his first Dakar in 2016. Hmm, that sounds like a champion in the making! Welcome to my home.
– So you’ve got a few toys here.
– Yeah, a bit of equipment. It’s not a Yamaha garage, but it’s not far off. With his very first Kawasaki KX60, his track racing Yamaha R6, an old Motobécane 125 given to him by his father and the 450 which he won his first Le Touquet race on, it’s clear to see that Adrien likes motorbikes in all their shapes and sizes. I’m Adrien Van Beveren, I’m 25, I’ve been an official rider for Yamaha Motor Europe for nearly 10 years – it’s the manufacturer I grew up with How did you end up getting into motorbikes rather than doing another sport or working in another area? When I was 3 or 4 I got a little quad bike. I started riding quad bikes and then I saw that my friends were all riding bikes. Obviously, my dad got me a motorbike, so I started riding and never stopped The start of my career was all about the Le Touquet Endurance race. It’s the race I’d dreamt about since I was a kid. It’s the one I had wanted to win at all costs. I really started preparing for that since I was 15 or 16. Before that I did Moto Cross, I got some podiums in the French mini championship, I rode in the European championship and did a few races in the MX1 world championship. And then I really focused on preparing for the Le Touquet to try and win it. I first won it when I was 25 and won it 3 times in a row. That race was a fantastic springboard for my career Sand racing is a bit of a local speciality – how about showing us how it works here and now? OK, well I’ll show you my bike first of all For those who are not familiar with the Le Touquet Endurance race, well, this is what it’s all about! A huge 3-hour battle through the sand, where over 1000 riders speed over an enormous section of beach. And just to make things more difficult, they decide to do it right in the middle of winter! For the many nutters who choose to take part in this legendary event, just finishing the Le Touquet Endurance is an achievement in itself. But for Adrien and all the other top riders, only winning counts. And when you see them go flat out surrounded by hundreds of other riders who keep getting stuck in the sand, you realise that it really is a different sport! It’s funny, when you ride over the sand, you make it look easy. But I reckon it’s not quite as simple as it looks. How do you go at such a speed? That’s right, it’s not easy. To go fast, you need to maintain your speed. That’s the first secret, but I’m not going to give you all my secrets. With sand, the faster you go, the easier it is to maintain your speed. It’s physically very tough to ride fast. It’s a constant effort trying to keep the tyre on the ground because the problem with sand is that the track falls away very quickly and you very soon end up riding over churned up ground You need to get a feel for the grip. You need to find the happy medium between grip and wheel spin. For a country boy like yourself, what does it mean to win the Le Touquet Endurance? It really is the flagship race, it’s hugely popular, I’d dreamed about the Le Touquet race since I was a little kid I was a fan of Stephen Everts and Arnaud Demester for example. For me, winning Le Touquet was like realising a dream first and foremost. And it was also a great springboard for my career. In terms of media coverage, motorbike fans know about it but so does the general public. Well, in the north of France in any case, even someone who isn’t interested in motorbikes knows about the Le Touquet Endurance Did the experience you gained in the races on the sand help you to transition into rally raid ? The sand helped me to improve my technique a lot because I worked on it in order to get better I’m not a rider who completely lets loose, I don’t go past my own limits, I always need to have a little margin. So I needed to raise my level to ride quickly while keeping this margin And that helps me hugely when I compete in rally raid today In moto cross or sand racing, you don’t really need a good sense of direction, you just need to be quick. But in rally raid, it’s not quite so simple. For instance, a race like Dakar lasts 12 days. And to get to the end of such an unusual race, riders need to clock up almost 9,000km without getting lost or hurt, and resist the physical strains of blisteringly hot deserts and 3000 meters high mountains, while all the while giving the throttle a good squeeze. It’s not a walk in the park. Fortunately, Adrien can count on a Yamaha set up with great care and attention with a dashboard that looks like it’s been taken from an Airbus A 380. There’s still quite a few buttons on your bike. Yeah. I’m not going to teach you how to navigate today, but I’ll show you what all this is for. I’ve got my trip here, that shows me my mileage so that I can locate myself on my road book which I can scroll through with this button. Here I have another compass, the same as that one, but I put this in degree mode so that I can see the route and the orientation. Then here I have my speed. There are sections marked DZ in the road book where the speed is limited. This is mainly when we go through villages or places where people live All that is hooked up to a GPS, but it’s not a GPS to tell you where to go, it’s more like a sensor to prove that you have passed all the way points And then I’ve got my little watch, which I use to make sure I am on time for the special stages Otherwise, Adrien’s WRF 450 has had quite a few modifications. 2 big tanks mean that he can carry 30 litres of fuel, adjustable traction control with 10 different settings, a big 52mm diameter fork for stability at high speed, reinforcements more or less everywhere and a total weight of 164kg. As for the engine, Adrien was pretty coy about it. All we know is that it can reach around 60bhp and get to nearly 180km/h. Not bad for a little 450cc single cylinder!! And it’s with this little beauty that Adrien crossed half of Latin America. That gave him valuable experience when it came to taking part in his first Dakar last year. The Dakar stirs incredible emotions. I remember the Bolivian people were huge fans. It was amazing to see all those people lining the roads for the special stages The landscape in Uyuni was pretty grey, it was quite cold, but there were colours everywhere and the people were delighted to see us go through their country By finishing 6th in the race in 2016, Adrien showed all of his potential. But don’t be fooled into thinking it was easy, even for a triple winner of the Le Touquet who is pretty used to extremely tough conditions. Once, I actually fell asleep on the motorbike. It was the first time it had ever happened to me and I honestly didn’t think it could possibly happen. It was the penultimate stage, it was about 4 in the morning, and I ended up falling asleep. I woke up when the bike veered onto the verge and the bike started to wobble I caught it just in time, we had to ride at 120 km/h and it was pretty dangerous I’ll never forget that, falling asleep on my bike. I really never thought that could happen. This year, after a quiet first week and a more aggressive second week, Adrien finishes his second Dakar at the 4th place. And less one minute from the podium. A frustrating position for the French rider, but a remarkable position that refleting the progress of Adrien in Rally Raid. It’s much more than a motorbike race, Dakar is an adventure. You need to train an unbelievable amount to stand any chance of reaching the end. And even more so if you want to win it. Waiting next Dakar in 2018, where Adrien will be one of the rider who will fight for the victory, Next 5th of February he will try to win his 4th Victory in a row at Le Touquet Race So if you’re next to Le Touquet Beach, we suggest you to take warm clothes and to go there !