The five-rider strong Monster Energy Yamaha Rally Official Team has completed the first full day of competition at the 2020 Andalucia Rally, a 309-kilometre stage one that took riders on the first of four looped routes from and returning to the event’s base in Villamartin. With all riders competing in anger for the first time in international rally competition since the Dakar Rally in January, Adrien Van Beveren secured the team’s best result in fourth, just five minutes down on Argentinian Kevin Benavides, who topped the day’s results.
Very much a day of re-adjusting to rally competition following the many months away from competition, stage one delivered tough navigation and tricky way points, ensuring all riders were made to focus on their navigation intently. Despite a small mistake during yesterday’s short prologue, Adrien Van Beveren came though stage one in impressive form to make a solid start to his Andalucia Rally campaign. Like many riders, needing a little time to settle into his rhythm while focusing on the demanding navigation, Van Beveren went on to post the fifth fastest time of the day.
Less than one-minute behind Van Beveren and in sixth place on stage one, Franco Caimi navigated his WR450F Rally to a time of 3:27:52 to begin his Andalucia Rally in positive fashion. Pleased with the set-up of his Yamaha on the slippery terrain, Franco avoided navigational errors to set himself up well for stage two – the second longest of the event.
Third fastest Monster Energy Yamaha Rally Official Team rider was Ross Branch. Enjoying his time at the front of the field following his top-three fastest time during the event’s opening prologue, in starting among the first competitors to leave the start of stage one Ross rode together with Dakar Rally winner Toby Price, gaining valuable experience while also keeping a watchful eye on his navigation. Branch posted the day’s 13th fastest time and sits a little over 11 minutes down on the day’s fastest rider but with a good start position for tomorrow’s stage two.
Right behind Branch, Jamie McCanney completed a largely mistake-free day to finish 14th overall, a little over one-minute behind his team-mate. Pleased with his performance, in starting further back in the entry than his team-mates McCanney had to deal with a lot of dust kicked up from the riders ahead of him on the Spanish trails. Also missing a way point roughly 10 kilometres from the finish Jamie picked up a penalty, which further hampered his result.
Looking forward to his return to competition, Andrew Short endured a frustrating day despite the American quickly finding a good rhythm. Making a number of small mistakes he placed 16th fastest, completing the stage without any major issues and ready to attack stage two.
Ross Branch – Monster Energy Yamaha Rally Official Team
“Day one’s done and dusted and it’s great to be back racing. It was a good day for me, opening the road and it was a great experience riding with Toby for the whole day. A great learning experience for me. I really enjoyed myself today. It was a little bit more slippery than what I’m used to, but I made it work. My Yamaha is running perfectly so all in all it’s been a good day of learning and I’m really excited for tomorrow.”
Franco Caimi – Monster Energy Yamaha Rally Official Team
“Stage one is finished, and it’s been a good day. It took a while to get into a rhythm but once I did, I was happy with my riding and the set-up of my Yamaha. I felt comfortable out there and that’s important. My navigation was good, so I was able to push on towards the end. A good first day and this sets me up for a good race here in Andalucia.”
Adrien Van Beveren – Monster Energy Yamaha Rally Official Team
“It was a solid start to the Andalucia Rally. It took me until around 50km in to settle in and ride a bit looser, but with so much time off that’s normal. I then just focused on my technique and felt good on the bike. Navigation was super-tricky. It wasn’t easy to find the balance between navigation and speed but overall it was a positive day. I did make a couple of mistakes and lost a couple of minutes so tomorrow I will try to remain calm through stage two.”
Andrew Short – Monster Energy Yamaha Rally Official Team
“It’s nice to be back racing again. I found it hard to find a decent rhythm. I’d push and then make mistakes so it was a little challenging for me. Not the best start to the rally for me but my bike’s great, the atmosphere in the team is awesome and it’s just on me to improve now.”
Jamie McCanney – Monster Energy Yamaha Rally Official Team
“I’m happy enough with today. It was on the dusty side, which wasn’t ideal though. However, I could ride my own pace, which I was happy with. Unfortunately, I missed a way point with about 10 kilometres to go. It was safer to continue than to try and find my way back and I’ll get a penalty for it, but it was definitely the safer option. Besides that, it’s been a positive start to the rally. I didn’t take any risks so I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”
Alexandre Kowalski – Yamaha Europe Off-Road Racing Manager
“It’s been such a long time since we raced so it was exciting for the team and everyone to be back doing what they love. It’s clearly an exciting time and the team had a solid start to the rally. Andrew struggled a little bit but generally it has been a good day and great to be back racing. The rally stage had a lot of tough navigation and tricky way points, so it was easy to make mistakes. Both Franco and Jamie will likely receive penalties along with some other riders, which is a shame. To sum up the day, it’s been a good, solid start and all the guys were consistent and fast, so we look forward to tomorrow.”
Stage 1 Provisional Classification
- Kevin Benavides (Honda) 3:21:17
- Joan Barreda (Honda) 3:24:32 + 0:03:15
- Lorenzo Santolino (Sherco) 3:24:36 + 0:03:19
- Xavier de Soultrait (Husqvarna) 3:26:25 + 0:05:08
- Adrien Van Beveren (Yamaha) 3:26:57 + 0:05:40
- Franco Caimi (Yamaha) 3:27:52 + 0:06:35
- Ross Branch (Yamaha) 3:32:55 + 0:11:38
- Jamie McCanney (Yamaha) 3:34:07 + 0:12:50
- Andrew Short (Yamaha) 3:36:54 + 0:15:37
Overall Provisional Classification (after stage 1)
- Kevin Benavides (Honda) 3:28:00
- Joan Barreda (Honda) 3:31:14 + 0:03:14
- Lorenzo Santolino (Sherco) 3:31:18 + 0:03:18
- Xavier de Soultrait (Husqvarna) 3:33:08 + 0:05:08
- Adrien Van Beveren (Yamaha) 3:33:36 + 0:05:36
- Franco Caimi (Yamaha) 3:34:30 + 0:06:30
- Ross Branch (Yamaha) 3:39:27 + 0:11:27
- Jamie McCanney (Yamaha) 3:40:42 + 0:12:42
16. Andrew Short (Yamaha) 3:43:29 + 0:15:29