Frenchman David Frétigné has been pulled from the Dakar Rally because the back injuries he suffered in the Rally Libya in October have no healed enough to allow him to race.

Fretigne will be replaced on the Team BMW Motorrad by Speedbrain's BMW G 450RR by Brazil's Jose Helio Gonçalves Rodrigues Filho, better known as "Zé Helio."

"The Dakar kicks off in a few days," Fretigne said in a team release "I wish our Team BMW Motorrad by Speedbrain plenty of success in this new adventure. I hope that the fantastic job of the engineers and mechanics will pay off and the squad will score a top result. It´s a bitter pill to swallow not being able to compete, despite the huge efforts taken together with the Presport team in Perpignan.

"I also have to thank my family for their support since my accident, especially Rodolphe Schwartz, but my recovery has unfortunately not been speedy enough to be able to race in a competitive condition. I will passionately follow the proceedings of the Dakar 2011 and do wish Frans [Verhoeven] all the best and a lot of success. We worked and tested together quite a few times. For sure he will give his very best. In the meantime I´m determined to keep working hard in order to return in top shape as soon as possible."

Zé Helio will be the fourth rider on the team. The five-time winner of the Rally dos Sertoes in Brazil - the second longest rally behind the Dakar - competed for the team this past August. He had to drop back with a technical problem after having led the race.

"I´m excited to race the Dakar for Team BMW Motorrad by Speedbrain," Ze Helio said. "I will do whatever I can to present a good result to the team. After the setback during the Rally dos Sertoes, I definitely want to use the opportunity to prove my skills and show what a strong bike the BMW is. My best wishes go to David. I´m looking forward to see him again at one of the next races."

Team BMW Motorrad by Speedbrain enters the Dakar 2011, which starts on January 1, with the following riders: Frans Verhoeven, Holland; Paulo Goncalves, Portugal; Pedro Bianchi Prata, Portugal; Zé Helio, Brazil.

Dakar Rally News


By Cycle News Staff

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