Monster Energy Yamaha Rally Team’s Ross Branch has raced to an impressive fourth place finish on stage two of the 2021 Dakar Rally following a faultless ride. With his strong result, Ross advances up to third in the provisional classification. Adrien Van Beveren also put together a positive stage to claim sixth, with Jamie McCanney 19th and Franco Caimi coming home in 31st. Frustratingly, Andrew Short was forced to retire following a technical issue.
Stage two of the 2021 Dakar Rally saw the Monster Energy Yamaha Rally Team take on the first sand dunes of the event. With their navigational skills put to the test throughout the technical stage, the team ended the day optimistic about the stages ahead and looking forward to the coming days in the sand dunes.
Setting off in 15th position proved highly advantageous for Ross Branch as he went on to finish in fourth place following an impeccable ride throughout the technical 457-kilometre special. Attacking the sand dunes at the start of the stage he rode confidently, chasing down the leading riders. With Ross never falling outside the top six throughout the stage, the Yamaha WR450F Rally mounted rider now finds himself placed third in the provisional overall classification, just 14 seconds down on the second placed rider.
After just over four and a half hours in the saddle, Adrien Van Beveren came home in sixth place to continue his strong start to the rally. Taking to the start in 13th following his result on the opening stage proved highly advantageous as he was able to focus on following the lines left in the deep sand by the competitors ahead of him. Despite riding through dust at times, he remained focused, going on to record another strong finish. The Frenchman now sits sixth in the provisional overall classification.
Jamie McCanney continues to learn the ropes of rally racing. After coming close to crashing early on in the stage, the Manxman then found himself passed by some much more experienced riders, temporarily knocking his confidence. Quickly regrouping, he then made a navigational error, which cost him valuable time. Despite his frustrations, Jamie placed 19th and heads into tomorrow very much focused on riding his own race.
It was a frustrating stage two for Franco Caimi. Following his impressive seventh place finish on stage one, a minor technical issue slowed his pace early on. Once that was resolved he charged forwards, able to claw back some of the lost time to end the stage in 31st. With tomorrow’s stage again set to feature a lot of sand, Franco will be able to capitalise on the tracks left before him and focus on his riding as he aims to return to the top 10 in the overall classification.
In placing 12th on the event’s opening stage, Andrew Short started the Dakar Rally on a positive note. Unfortunately, a technical issue just past the halfway point of stage two brought the American’s participation in this year’s event to an untimely end.
Stage three of the 2021 Dakar Rally is a loop stage that starts from, and returns to, Wadi Ad-Dawasir. The 629 km stage features a 403 km special and provides a real challenge of mixed terrain including dunes and technical canyons, linked together with high-speed sections.
Ross Branch – Monster Energy Yamaha Rally Team
“It was another good day for me today. I really enjoyed the stage and it was nice to follow some tracks and focus on my riding. The stage was tricky towards the end, some technical sections that required accurate navigation but we got through that fine, so it was a good day at the office. This year’s rally is really tough but I’m having a great time here with the team and loving the racing so I can’t wait for tomorrow.”
Adrien Van Beveren – Monster Energy Yamaha Rally Team
“A much better day for me today. Plenty of sand and dunes and I was able to ride loose and confident, a big improvement over yesterday. I pushed from the start, but quickly got caught up in some dust from other riders but I kept my rhythm and kept moving forwards. I made a few small mistakes but felt great today, really confident on my bike and I’m happy with where I am after stage two.”
Jamie McCanney – Monster Energy Yamaha Rally Team
“Nothing special today, really. Some tough learnings. I didn’t realise that I was in the top 20 until the end and rode a little cautiously after being passed by some faster riders. That knocked my confidence a bit. I then followed close to someone who then turned around as he’d gone the wrong way and I just followed him into that mistake. I was kicking myself for that one so I’ll be focusing on myself from now on.”
Franco Caimi – Monster Energy Yamaha Rally Team
“Today was a difficult one but there is still a long way to go. I had a small technical issue with my bike and lost a lot of time but for tomorrow I will be able to follow tracks left by those ahead of me, so I am confident of making up for lost time. I’m really happy with my riding and the bike set-up and from here onwards I will just push forwards. There is still a lot of racing to go.”
Andrew Short – Monster Energy Yamaha Rally Team
“For sure it’s disappointing to end the rally like this as I had a really good stage going. I felt awesome on the bike and things were going well. With Dakar only happening once a year, it’s frustrating to go out like this but I’ll be back next year. I’m thankful to be healthy but sad at the same time as it’s a race that we all work hard towards all year round, but it’s how racing goes sometimes. All the best to my team-mates, it’s going to be a tough race this year.”
Alexandre Kowalski – Yamaha Europe Off-Road Racing Manager
“It was a good and bad day for the team. It was a difficult stage with very deep sand in places, but our riders enjoyed the challenge. Both Ross and Adrien rode perfectly today. Minimal risks and solid results, but this may hurt them tomorrow as they will start with the leading riders. But this is how rally goes and they both know what they are doing so they will look to maintain their strong overall positions. Franco had a small problem that he was able to fix. This was disappointing but we have seen results change drastically each day so I am confident that he will claw back time in the days ahead. Jamie had another consistent day and his level has really improved over last year, which is nice to see. Consistency is really important this year with the new rules and I am confident that he can continue like this. Sadly, for Andrew, his rally is over. Halfway through the stage he had a problem with the bike and was unable to finish the stage. I’m really disappointed for him after a great start to the rally. Everyone in the team feels for Andrew, but as we all know Dakar can be cruel. Tomorrow will be tough, not too long but more sand so we will prepare the best we can and continue to fight for strong positions.”
Dakar Rally 2021
Stage 2 Provisional Classification
- Joan Barreda (Honda) 4:17:56
- Ricky Brabec (Honda) 4:21:51 + 0:03:55
- Pablo Quintanilla (Husqvarna) 4:23:58 + 0:06:02
- Ross Branch (Yamaha) 4:29:50 + 0:11:54
- Jose Ignacio Cornejo (Honda) 4:30:02 + 0:12:06
- Adrien Van Beveren (Yamaha) 4:30:38 + 0:12:42
- Jamie McCanney (Yamaha) 4:43:43 + 0:25:47
- Franco Caimi (Yamaha) 4:54:27 + 0:36:31
Dakar Rally 2021
Overall Provisional Classification (after stage 2)
- Joan Barreda (Honda) 8:15:38
- Ricky Brabec (Honda) 8:22:01 + 0:06:23
- Ross Branch (Yamaha) 8:22:15 + 0:06:37
- Pablo Quintanilla (Husqvarna) 8:22:54 + 0:07:16
- Xavier de Soultrait (Husqvarna) 8:24:03 + 0:08:25
- Adrien Van Beveren (Yamaha) 8:24:12 + 0:08:34
- Jamie McCanney (Yamaha) 8:41:42 + 0:26:04
- Franco Caimi (Yamaha) 8:43:03 + 0:27:25