The Monster Energy Yamaha Rally Team have successfully kicked off their 2021 Dakar Rally campaign with all riders comfortably placed inside the top 20 following a challenging stage one. With each rider focused on delivering strong results, it was a confident Franco Caimi who claimed the best finish for the team, placing seventh overall aboard his Yamaha WR450F Rally machine.
With stage one of the 43rd running of the event proving to be anything but easy despite being run solely on tracks and stony trails, accurate navigation was essential from the start. All Monster Energy Yamaha Rally Team riders faced a number of technical canyons and demanding rocky hillsides, testing the skills and patience of the entire five-rider squad.
Taking to the start of the event’s opening stage in 14th following his prologue result certainly proved advantageous for Caimi. Picking up on the lines left by those ahead of him, the Argentine was able to focus on his riding and navigation while pushing forwards throughout the rocky, 277-kilometre special. Riding through dust for much of the stage, Caimi delivered a trouble-free ride to claim a strong seventh place finish.
Andrew Short opted for a cautious approach on stage one of the 2021 Dakar Rally. With a new for 2021 rule that allows elite riders just six rear tyres for the entire event, the American rode conservatively throughout the rocky stage with tomorrow’s sandier conditions very much on his mind. Nevertheless, his 12th place finish marked a strong start to the event with Andrew happy to be back racing his Yamaha WR450F Rally machine.
Close behind Andrew in 13th place was Adrien Van Beveren. Also applying a cautious approach to the opening stage, the Frenchman successfully navigated his way through the rocky terrain. With tomorrow’s stage set to feature his favoured conditions of rolling sand dunes, the 29-year-old looks forward to stage two and advancing up the leaderboard.
The ever-positive Ross Branch enjoyed stage one of the 2021 Dakar Rally. Setting off fourth, he quickly caught up to the leading riders and briefly lead the stage for a short time. Opting to settle into a safe, comfortable rhythm, Branch learned valuable line choices and techniques from his much more experienced rivals on his way to completing the stage in 15th place.
Jamie McCanney also made a positive start to just his second ever Dakar Rally. With a GPS issue solved just moments before he began the special stage, he then caught up to a group of riders ahead of him. To avoid riding in their dust, he made multiple attempts to break free but then made a few mistakes, unravelling all of his hard work. Posting the 19th fastest time on the stage, Jamie now looks ahead to stage two and hopes for a less frantic day of racing.
Stage two of the 2021 Dakar Rally will see the Monster Energy Yamaha Rally Team take on the first sand dunes of the event. Each rider will have their navigational skills put to the test throughout the 457-kilometre special and once completed, the team will end the day in the town of Wadi Ad-Dawasir.
Adrien Van Beveren – Monster Energy Yamaha Rally Team
“Not the best start for me today. The terrain wasn’t my favourite, very rocky but also quite fast so not my favourite conditions. I rode a little tight, a little cautious but the Dakar is a long race and for tomorrow I will reset, then give my best on stage two.”
Franco Caimi – Monster Energy Yamaha Rally Team
“It’s really great to be racing the Dakar again and I’m really thankful that we were able to race following what has happened in the last year with the pandemic. Today’s stage was really good for me. Starting 14th on the stage meant there was a few lines to follow but I was also riding in dust which wasn’t ideal. But, overall, seventh on the stage is a great start to the rally. My bike was working perfectly, I’m super-happy with everything and there are many days of racing ahead.”
Andrew Short – Monster Energy Yamaha Rally Team
“Today’s stage was pretty good for me. It’s great to be back racing and we were straight into it with some tricky navigation from the start. The stage was really rocky, and I was maybe a little conservative as we only have six rear tyres to use throughout the event. This may have cost me some time, but it might work out better for me for tomorrow. I’m about eight minutes down on the leader but it’s only day one and a long way to go. I’m happy with how the rally has started for me and I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”
Ross Branch – Monster Energy Yamaha Rally Team
“Today was a great day at the office. Early on I was able to catch up with some guys ahead of me and I was able to learn a lot from them. I found the navigation to be really difficult today but it’s the Dakar Rally and it’s meant to be tough. It was a long first day and I’m happy with my result, my bike, and I can’t wait for tomorrow.”
Jamie McCanney – Monster Energy Yamaha Rally Team
“I didn’t have the best start to the rally and this was before any riding had even happened. At the start of the stage I had an issue with my GPS so I quickly returned to the bivouac for another one. That also had a problem so I then had no choice but to follow someone to the start of the special and collect a new GPS there. It was a little unsettling but once I was out riding everything was good and I quickly caught up to a few riders and we were in a bit of a group. I struggled a bit to break away from them which was a little frustrating. Plenty of action on day one with a lot going on so hopefully tomorrow will go a bit smoother.”
Alexandre Kowalski – Yamaha Europe Off-Road Racing Manager
“It was a mixed first day for the team, but all riders completed the stage well and they are all positive. Some of them rode a little tight, others were more relaxed, but this is always the case with day one of the Dakar. Franco rode really well today. Consistent throughout and no big mistakes, so he’s very deserving of his seventh-place finish. It wasn’t the best stage for Adrien. The stage was where he crashed out last year so he was very cautious, but now that we are passed this he can focus on the days ahead. Ross started fourth on the stage but was quickly the leading rider, which was new for him but also great experience. Andrew was also up front early, but a few small navigational mistakes cost him. It’s only day one and there is a long way to go. Jamie had some GPS issues before the stage began but this was fixed and he rode really well. A few small mistakes like Andrew but a great start to the rally for Jamie. The new rules seem to have created bigger gaps than usual after day one so this could be how the rest of the rally goes. Navigation is much more important this year and is the main focus and there is still a long way to go. Overall, a positive first day. We have healthy and have happy riders, so we are looking forward to tomorrow.”
Dakar Rally 2021
Stage 1 Provisional Classification
- Toby Price (KTM) 3:18:26
- Kevin Benavides (Honda) 3:18:57 + 0:00:31
- Matthias Walkner (KTM) 3:18:58 + 0:00:32
- Sam Sunderland (KTM) 3:20:29 + 0:02:03
- Lorenzo Santolino (Sherco) 3:22:49 + 0:04:23
- Xavier de Soultrait (Husqvarna) 3:23:01 + 0:04:35
- Franco Caimi (Yamaha) 3:23:14 + 0:04:48
- Andrew Short (Yamaha) 3:27:16 + 0:08:50
- Adrien Van Beveren (Yamaha) 3:28:01 + 0:09:35
- Ross Branch (Yamaha) 3:28:13 + 0:09:47
- Jamie McCanney (Yamaha) 3:33:10 + 0:14:44
Dakar Rally 2021
Overall Provisional Classification (after stage 1)
- Toby Price (KTM) 3:43:58
- Kevin Benavides (Honda) 3:44:21 + 0:00:23
- Matthias Walkner (KTM) 3:45:10 + 0:01:12
- Sam Sunderland (KTM) 3:48:09 + 0:04:11
- Lorenzo Santolino (Sherco) 3:48:57 + 0:04:59
- Franco Caimi (Yamaha) 3:49:14 + 0:05:16
- Andrew Short (Yamaha) 3:52:28 + 0:08:30
- Ross Branch (Yamaha) 3:53:13 + 0:09:015
- Adrien Van Beveren (Yamaha) 3:54:13 + 0:10:15
- Jamie McCanney (Yamaha) 3:58:46 + 0:14:48