Monster Energy Yamaha Rally Team’s Ross Branch has claimed a deserving victory at the opening round of the 2021 FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship, Rally Kazakhstan. Finishing second on the shortened final stage of the event, Branch maintained his position at the top of the overall leaderboard, which he’d held since the close of stage three. Joining Ross on the podium was Yamaha teammate Adrien Van Beveren in third, with Andrew Short claiming fifth overall to complete a highly successful rally for the team.
The decisive fifth stage of Rally Kazakhstan was cut short 158 kilometres into the special due to an issue with the event’s refuelling equipment, which affected all riders. Nevertheless, strong and consistent rides from Ross, Adrien, and Andrew up until that point ensured their positions in the provisional overall standings were maintained, with all three finishing in the overall top five.
With a four-minute lead entering the final day of racing at Rally Kazakhstan, Ross Branch’s main objective was to deliver a consistent finish on stage five to claim the overall win. In placing second, Ross further extended his lead to just over five minutes to earn his first-ever victory in the FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship.
The Monster Energy Yamaha Rally Team will next be in action in just a few weeks’ time at the Silk Way Rally, round two of the FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship from July 1-11.
Ross Branch – Monster Energy Yamaha Rally Team: “All-in-all it’s been an amazing week here in Kazakhstan and I’m so happy to come away with the win. Before this race, I really focused on working on my navigation and it certainly worked here. I opened stages and finished upfront on each stage so I can’t ask for anything more. The goal today was to manage the lead that I had, and I feel like I was doing a good job up until the stage was cut short. Overall, I’ve really enjoyed the whole week. It’s great to be racing again and the team has done a fantastic job with the bike and it’s just been an awesome experience. I’m really happy to have won for myself and the team.”
Alexandre Kowalski – Yamaha Europe Off-Road Racing Manager: “It’s been a great rally for the riders and the whole team at Rally Kazakhstan. A lot of work and changes have happened since the Dakar and for Ross to win this rally, have Adrien on the podium, and with Andrew in fifth shows that our hard work has paid off. For Ross to win is just fantastic. His goal was to win a round of the series this season and he’s ticked that box already. It was a deserving win. He was upfront all week, opened stages, and made very few mistakes. This win is great for his confidence and he has come a long way as a rider since the Dakar.”
Rally Kazakhstan Overall Provisional Classification (after stage 5):
1. Ross Branch (Yamaha) 14:39:02
2. Matthias Walkner (KTM) 14:44:09 + 0:05:07
3. Adrien Van Beveren (Yamaha) 14:49:18 + 0:10:16
4. Daniel Sanders (GASGAS) 15:10:36 + 0:31:34
5. Andrew Short (Yamaha) 15:11:23 + 0:32:21