ANDREW SHORT TALKS ABOUT YAMAHA PULLING OUT OF RALLY
Yamaha recently announced that it will not be returning to Dakar or competing in the FIM world Rally Championship with a pro motorcycle team. This came on the heels of an excellent result at Dakar 2022. Frenchman Adrien Van Beveren finished fourth and American Andrew Short was eighth. We called Andrew to ask how it all went down.
Dirt Bike: We were surprised to hear that Yamaha is pulling out of rally racing. Was this coming for some time?
Andrew Short: We’ve known about it for a long time. The team put a lot of work in for Dakar, and that was the main goal. Once that race was over, it was clear that the program was going to shift directions. At the previous year’s Dakar, there were a lot of struggles, they wanted to come back and complete the race and have a good finish. They were happy that they could put in the work and have a bike that was capable of making it to the end. They achieved their goal and now they are setting their sites on something different.
Will Yamaha have a side-by-side team at Dakar next year?
I don’t know what they are going to do with Dakar honestly. I think they want to focus on the Tenere 700. The budget for the program I was on was marketed for the Tenere bike, and we competed on a WR450 that was heavily modified. So in some ways it didn’t really make sense, and I think the marketing people realized this. They’ll shift toward events that the bike can actually participate in. The side-by-side is important for them, too and there’s a place they can market it at Dakar. But it’s a different group and I don’t know what’s going to happen in the future with this, either.
Going forward, will you be associated with Yamaha?
I don’t have a contract with them, but I talk frequently with these guys and I know it’s going to take some time to shift to a different direction and to finish what they started with the rally project. There are a lot of loose ends they have to clean up. I can’t say they won’t compete in Dakar, but they won’t do it at the official factory level like they have.
Is there a future for your Dakar career?
Hmm, I would like to race Dakar on a motorcycle, but only with an effort that’s at a high level where I could be competitive. I think there are only two like that left and both are already full with previous commitments. This leaves a few riders besides myself without a deal. With my age, maybe it’s best for those programs to invest in someone younger. Even my previous teammate Adrien Van Beveren, he had a strong season in the world championship, and also finished fourth in Dakar, and I think it’s difficult for even him to find a ride.
What about off-road riding in general, do you still have a passion for that?
I have a huge passion for it, but to race at a high level, I don’t know if that’s there for me. With off-road, everything is so specialized, and to compete at a high level, you have to live it and breathe it 24/7. I don’t know if there are opportunities for me, but I would still like to ride and there are so many places I would like to go and things to experience — to do things I’ve always had to say no to because of racing commitments. I want to ride in the mountains and with different friends. I want to ride a lot more than I did, but different varieties and different events. Maybe more for fun and less competition. I also like to keep that racing mindset once in a while because these are the people I like to be surrounded with.
What will you be doing in the immediate future?
I have no idea. I’ve had some big life changes. Last October. My father-in-law, who lives with us at our farm, passed away in a farm accident. Our lives changed completely at home and I had to learn a lot of new skill sets and organize things in a different way than I previously had. Some of the freedoms I had to leave aren’t there anymore. Priority number one after Dakar was my family; to get all this sorted out. Now, I can think about riding again, but I don’t know what’s next. I’ve talked to a few different people, but I don’t want to rush into something and I want to find the right fit. I want to be sure it’s a long-term solution and not just to find something to do.
Good luck in the future and we would love to hear what happens next as things unfold.