Stage six of the 2021 Dakar Rally proved to be a highly positive one for the Monster Energy Yamaha Rally Team with Ross Branch narrowly missing out on taking a maiden stage win. Claiming an impressive runner-up finish, just 13 seconds behind the eventual stage winner, Ross is now placed fourth overall in the provisional classification at the halfway point of the rally.
Heading west throughout stage six, riders reached the town of Ha’il following a 347-kilometre special. Taking riders through sandy tracks early on, competitors were then faced with undulating sand dunes for much of the challenging stage. Now, having successfully completed six gruelling stages, riders and team staff will enjoy a well-earned rest day tomorrow, ahead of six further days of racing that begins with the event’s marathon stage on Sunday.
As the ninth rider to enter the special, Ross Branch excelled from his advantageous starting position to very nearly claim his debut stage win. Pushing hard from the start in a bid to make up time on the leading riders, Ross ended the stage agonisingly close to earning a victory, just 13 seconds behind the eventual winner. More importantly, the Yamaha WR450F Rally mounted rider began the stage 11 minutes down on the provisional leader but following his excellent performance has now closed that gap to just under four minutes. Ross sits in a comfortable fourth place at the end of week one.
Ross Branch – Monster Energy Yamaha Rally Team:
“A really good stage for me today, so close to the win! It was a fun day on the bike. All the sandy tracks meant that I didn’t have to rely too much on my navigation and I just went as hard as I could. So close to the win but I’m really happy anyway. I’m now looking forward to the rest day tomorrow and I’m excited for another week of racing.”
Alexandre Kowalski – Yamaha Europe Off-Road Racing Manager:
“Today we saw something amazing from Ross. For the whole stage he took risks and pushed super hard and very nearly won the stage, just 13 seconds away from the win. It’s frustrating for him to not win, but also really positive as he knows, and we know, what he is capable of. He is now fourth, less than four minutes from the lead so this is a great end to the first week.
Stage 6 Provisional Classification
1. Joan Barreda (Honda) 3:45:27
2. Ross Branch (Yamaha) 3:45:40 + 0:00:13
3. Daniel Sanders (KTM) 3:46:20 + 0:00:53
4. Ricky Brabec (Honda) 3:47:51 + 0:02:24
5. Matthias Walkner (KTM) 3:48:41 + 0:03:14
Overall Provisional Classification (after stage 6)
1. Toby Price (KTM) 24:08:43
2. Kevin Benavides (Honda) 24:10:59 + 0:02:16
3. Jose Ignacio Cornejo (Honda) 24:11:40 + 0:02:57
4. Ross Branch (Yamaha) 24:12:24 + 0:03:41
5. Xavier de Soultrait (Husqvarna) 24:12:24 + 0:03:41
With stage six of the 2021 Dakar Rally now complete, Ross, Adrien, Franco, and the entire Monster Energy Yamaha Rally Team will enjoy a well-earned rest day ahead of stage seven, and leg one of the rally’s two-day marathon stage on Sunday 10 January. Competitors will depart from Ha’il and head to Sakaka, reaching the most northerly point of the event upon their arrival. Riders are then permitted just 10 minutes to prepare their own machines ahead of the second marathon stage leg.