A Stroke Of Bad Luck On Dakar Stage Seven For Ross Branch

Image source: Yamaha Racing

Stage seven of the 2021 Dakar Rally formed leg one of the rally’s two-day marathon stage. Competitors set off from Ha’il following the event’s rest day and successfully reached the city of Sakaka where riders were then permitted just 10 minutes to prepare their machines ahead of tomorrow’s stage eight, the second leg of the marathon stage.

Monster Energy Yamaha Rally Team’s leading rider going into stage seven, Ross Branch, was putting together another strong ride until a sizable crash 30 kilometres into the special derailed his charge. Fortunate to escape injury but forced to make some running repairs to his Yamaha WR450F Rally, Ross rejoined the race and ended a tough stage in 27th. Now, with no pressure and a highly advantageous starting position for stage eight and leg two of the marathon stage, he’ll take to the line with the sole aim of making up for lost time.

Image source: Yamaha Racing

Despite cruel luck striking Ross Branch – the team’s best-performing rider at the start of the stage – all riders made it to the finish where tonight they will stay, away from the team, in a temporary camp.

Alexandre Kowalski – Yamaha Europe Off-Road Racing Manager:

Today’s first day of the marathon stage was a tricky one for us but all the riders are healthy, which is most important. Unfortunately, Ross had a crash. Thankfully, nothing too serious but he had a small problem with the bike as a result of the crash, which he was able to fix but it cost him close to 40 minutes. A real shame for him as he was well placed at the front of the field.

Stage 7 Provisional Classification

1. Ricky Brabec (Honda) 4:37:44
2. Jose Ignacio Cornejo (Honda) 4:39:51 + 0:02:07
3. Skyler Howes (KTM) 4:40:03 + 0:02:19
4. Sam Sunderland (KTM) 4:40:36 + 0:02:52
5. Daniel Sanders (KTM) 4:40:58 + 0:03:14
27. Ross Branch (Yamaha) 5:20:04 + 0:42:20

Overall Provisional Classification (after stage 7)

1. Jose Ignacio Cornejo (Honda) 28:51:31
2. Toby Price (KTM) 28:51:32 + 0:00:01
3. Sam Sunderland (KTM) 28:53:42 + 0:02:11
4. Xavier de Soultrait (Husqvarna) 28:54:05 + 0:02:34
5. Kevin Benavides (Honda) 28:59:00 + 0:07:29
15. Ross Branch (Yamaha) 29:32:28 + 0:40:57

Image source: Yamaha Racing

Stage eight of the 2021 Dakar Rally will be the second and final leg of the event’s marathon stage. Heading south west to Neom on the Red Sea coast, a diverse landscape awaits where accurate navigation, and bike conservation will be key in ensuring a strong finish on the stage’s 375-kilometre special.