With almost five months having passed since the Monster Energy Yamaha Rally Team were last in action, the squad returns to competition tomorrow at the Rally Kazakhstan, round one of the 2021 FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship. Representing the team in 2021 are three familiar and highly capable racers – Adrien Van Beveren, Andrew Short and Ross Branch – all well-prepared and motivated for a successful season of racing.
Since the 2021 Dakar, the Monster Energy Yamaha Rally Team has expanded its technical staff to further develop the Yamaha WR450F Rally bike and improve both its reliability and performance. In taking to the start of Rally Kazakhstan, the team will face its first competitive world championship outing of the season with a new team structure, refined machinery, and a revised rider line-up, as they take their first steps towards Dakar 2022.
Scheduled to cover 2,270 kilometres, of which 1,465 are divided into five timed special stages raced against the clock, Rally Kazakhstan takes place across the mixed terrain of the Mangystau region in the south-west of the country. Following the traditional ceremonial start on June 8 in the city of Aktau, all riders will then compete over five days of racing before crossing the finish line on June 13.
Leading the team into the opening round of the 2021 FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship is Adrien Van Beveren. Following months of preparation, the Frenchman is excited to return to racing aboard his improved Yamaha WR450F Rally. The experienced rider, who turned 30 years old in February, lines up in Kazakhstan with confidence following a highly constructive off-season.
Another rider excited for the upcoming season is Andrew Short. Following a positive start to the 2021 Dakar Rally, the American was frustratingly forced to abandon the event due to contaminated fuel issues, which were outside of the team’s control, and that left Short unable to show his true capabilities on Yamaha machinery. Moving on, Andrew is now focused on delivering strong results in this year’s FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship before returning to the Dakar in 2022.
Completing the Monster Energy Yamaha Rally Team line-up is Ross Branch. Making his debut for the team at the 2021 Dakar, the Botswana native was just 13 seconds from winning stage six and ended the opening week placed in second overall. Undoubtedly on the pace with the best rally racers in the world, Branch has been focusing on improving his roadbook skills to ensure increased confidence and less navigational mistakes.
As the 2021 FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship begins, the Monster Energy Yamaha Rally Team would like to express its appreciation to both Franco Caimi and Jamie McCanney and thank them for their efforts and commitment to the team during recent years.
Adrien Van Beveren – Monster Energy Yamaha Rally Team
“Everything is really good at the moment. My preparation for this season has gone really well and the team has made a number of improvements to the bike for this season as well. Rally Kazakhstan will be the first proper test but I’m confident in the team and the bike and I think we can achieve something good this season. It’s great to be back with my teammates Andrew and Ross as well as the rest of the team, and the atmosphere is really positive. I love racing so it’s great to be here in Kazakhstan and I’m excited to start racing.”
Andrew Short – Monster Energy Yamaha Rally Team
“I’m really excited about the upcoming season. I’ve been back home in America putting in the work and then I headed to Europe to meet up with the team. There’s been a few positive changes during the off season and Rally Kazakhstan will be a continuation of the developments that the team has made. This race, and the season ahead will be used to build up for Dakar next January and I’ll be pushing for strong results at the same time. The calendar for this year looks really good with more desert races and less high speeds so I’m excited to start racing and I look forward to a successful season.”
Ross Branch – Monster Energy Yamaha Rally Team
“Since the Dakar I’ve been training really hard in readiness for the FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship. It’s my first time competing in this series so it’s all-new and super-exciting. I feel like my navigation skills let me down a little at the Dakar, so I’ve put a strong focus on that and I’m really happy with my progress. I’ve been out to Dubai with the team testing and training and I’m in a really good place both mentally and physically ahead of Rally Kazakhstan. I feel like it’s going to be a good year. The team spirit is really high and I’m excited to see how it all plays out. I can’t wait to get started.”
Alexandre Kowalski – Yamaha Europe Off-Road Racing Manager
“Since the team returned from the Dakar we’ve made a number of positive changes that will benefit all three riders as well as strengthening the team’s personnel. We’ve brought in a technician who has a lot of experience in rally to improve the reliability of the bikes and the whole team is really positive ahead of round one. We have a smaller team for this season and are a little more focused with three riders, Adrien, Andrew, and Ross. They’re all really motivated to be racing again. Rally Kazakhstan is a great event for us to start the season. It’s a little bit smaller than the other rallies and only five days of racing, so it’s a good place to start and then we’ll take it step-by-step as we head towards the Dakar in 2022. All three of our riders want to perform, and they’re very capable of being competitive so we look forward to a positive season of racing in 2021.”