Monster Energy Yamaha Rally Team’s Ross Branch was the ninth fastest rider on stage five of the Dakar Rally, comfortably maintaining his top 10 ranking in the provisional overall classification. Frustratingly, for the team’s remaining riders it was a difficult day with the results not being a true reflection of the speed and effort put in by Franco Caimi and Adrien Van Beveren.
Ross Branch broke the mould on stage five by proving that it was indeed possible to open the stage with the leading riders and post a top-10 result. Setting off with a strong pace from the start, the Yamaha WR450F Rally mounted rider reached each waypoint well among the frontrunners, going on to complete the gruelling stage as the ninth fastest rider. In claiming top-10 results in four of the five stages now completed, Ross sits ninth in the overall provisional classification and will enjoy an advantageous starting position on stage six.
Ross Branch – Monster Energy Yamaha Rally Team:
“It was another long stage and day on the bike today. It was really hard work both physically and mentally but after a while, I found myself in a group of riders, which made it a little easier. There were some big dunes towards the end of the stage, which were fun and it’s good to remain upfront overall. Today was tough on the body. I’ll be resting well tonight and look to end the first week of racing on a positive note before the rest day on Saturday.”
Alexandre Kowalski – Yamaha Europe Off-Road Racing Manager:
“What we have seen today is that in Dakar a good day can be followed by a not so good day. There is an obvious highlight for us, that Ross is going really well. It’s only his third Dakar and he has been riding exceptionally well on every stage. He’s only 11 minutes behind the race leader and very well placed among the leading riders. He has been very impressive and remains both highly focused and set on continuing to be among the leaders. Unfortunately, both Adrien and Franco had a tough day today, making mistakes and losing valuable time.
Stage 5 Provisional Classification
1. Kevin Benavides (Honda) 5:09:50
2. Jose Ignacio Cornejo (Honda) 5:10:50 + 0:01:00
3. Toby Price (KTM) 5:11:10 + 0:01:20
4. Lorenzo Santolino (Sherco) 5:12:19 + 0:02:29
5. Sam Sunderland (KTM) 5:14:07 + 0:04:17
6. Xavier de Soultrait (Husqvarna) 5:17:45 + 0:07:55
9. Ross Branch (Yamaha) 5:20:55 + 0:11:05
Overall Provisional Classification (after stage 5)
1. Kevin Benavides (Honda) 20:15:39
2. Xavier de Soultrait (Husqvarna) 20:18:10 + 0:02:31
3. Jose Ignacio Cornejo (Honda) 20:19:21 + 0:03:42
4. Toby Price (KTM) 20:19:22 + 0:03:43
5. Sam Sunderland (KTM) 20:21:45 + 0:06:06
6. Lorenzo Santolino (Sherco) 20:25:10 + 0:09:31
8. Ross Branch (Yamaha) 20:26:44 + 0:11:05
With five stages of the 2021 Dakar Rally now complete, stage six takes riders west to Ha’il and includes a 448-kilometre special set entirely within rolling sand dunes. Following the completion of the stage, racers will take a well-earned rest day on Saturday ahead of six further days of racing, beginning with the event’s marathon stage.