Monster Energy Yamaha Rally Team’s Ross Branch has safely finished stage eight of the 2021 Dakar Rally–leg two of the event’s marathon stage. Completing yet another physically and mentally challenging stage, earning 11th respectively, Ross now focuses on the all-important final days of the competition.
The eighth stage of the 2021 Dakar Rally formed the second and final leg of the event’s gruelling marathon stage. Heading south west to Neom on the Red Sea coast, the stage opened with technical, rocky terrain before following sandy tracks in the second half where accurate navigation was needed to ensure a strong finish on the 375-kilometre special. Upon completion and after 828 kilometres of racing with no technical support, Ross reunited with his team in the bivouac where mechanics will now prepare the bike for tomorrow’s stage nine.
Overcoming a difficult stage seven, where he lost valuable time, Ross Branch focused on a trouble-free ride to safely complete the second leg of the event’s marathon stage. Opting to ride at a conservative pace throughout stage eight, Branch crossed the finish as the 11th fastest rider to successfully reach the bivouac in Neom. Now, the team’s mechanics will repair the crash damage on his Yamaha WR450F Rally machine while Ross will concentrate on delivering a positive end to this year’s rally.
Ross Branch – Monster Energy Yamaha Rally Team:
I’m happy to have completed the marathon stage as it’s been a tough couple of days. Today’s stage started off really rocky, so I was cautious through there but once the stage opened out I got into a good rhythm. Arriving here in Neom in one piece is good and we can now prepare the bike for tomorrow and I’m excited for the next stage.
Stage 8 Provisional Classification
1. Jose Ignacio Cornejo (Honda) 3:08:40
2. Toby Price (KTM) 3:09:45 + 0:01:05
3. Ricky Brabec (Honda) 3:11:30 + 0:02:50
4. Sam Sunderland (KTM) 3:12:26 + 0:03:46
5. Kevin Benavides (Honda) 3:14:09 + 0:05:29
11. Ross Branch (Yamaha) 3:17:58 + 0:09:18
Overall Provisional Classification (after stage 8)
1. Jose Ignacio Cornejo (Honda) 32:00:11
2. Toby Price (KTM) 32:01:17 + 0:01:06
3. Sam Sunderland (KTM) 32:06:08 + 0:05:57
4. Kevin Benavides (Honda) 32:13:09 + 0:12:58
5. Joan Barreda (Honda) 32:16:16 + 0:16:05
13. Ross Branch (Yamaha) 32:50:26 + 0:50:15
Stage nine of the 2021 Dakar Rally is a loop stage beginning in Neom on the sandy shore of the Red Sea. After a brief time on smooth sand, the 465-kilometre special takes riders inland on sandy tracks that form much of the stage’s terrain. Near its conclusion, competitors will need to accurately navigate their way through multiple rocky canyons to secure a strong result.