Ross Branch wins 2021 Rally Kazakhstan

Finishing second on the shortened final stage of the event, Branch maintained his position at the top of the overall leaderboard

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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 effected 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.

Displaying incredible consistency throughout the rally, Adrien Van Beveren was the second Monster Energy Yamaha Rally Team rider to stand on the overall podium at Rally Kazakhstan with a hard-earned third-place result. Despite much of the terrain not to the Frenchman’s liking, Van Beveren opted to focus intently on his navigation throughout the race – a fruitful strategy that has kickstarted his season in fine style.

Rounding out a highly positive start to the 2021 FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship, Andrew Short placed fifth overall aboard his Yamaha WR450F Rally at Rally Kazakhstan. A few unfortunate mistakes during the week were minimised by consistent results from the American, who remained focused despite facing adversity on more than one occasion during the rally.

The Monster Energy Yamaha Rally Team will next be 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 up front 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.”

Adrien Van Beveren – Monster Energy Yamaha Rally Team
“We’ve finally arrived at the finish and I’m super-happy to have finished third overall in the rally. It’s great for the team to have three riders in the top five and it’s nice to see Ross take the win, he deserved it. This rally isn’t really on my favoured terrain, I would have preferred more sand, so to finish third here is a great result for me. My navigation was strong and my consistency all week was really good, so I’m really happy with my result and I’m now looking forward to the Silk Way Rally.”

Andrew Short – Monster Energy Yamaha Rally Team
“I’m really happy to have completed the last day here at Rally Kazakhstan. It was cut short unfortunately but up until then it was a fun stage with plenty of wildlife to dodge, too. I really learned a lot this week and I’m happy to start the season with a strong result. The focus is now on the Silk Way Rally, and I can’t wait to line up and race again.”

2021 Rally Kazakhstan – Stage 5 Provisional Classification

1. Joaquim Rodrigues (Hero) 1:19:51
2. Ross Branch (Yamaha) 1:20:58
3. Daniel Sanders (GASGAS) 1:21:22 
4. Skyler Howes (Husqvarna) 1:21:28
5. Adrien Van Beveren (Yamaha) 1:22:17 
6. Matthias Walkner (KTM) 1:22:17
… 
9. Andrew Short (Yamaha) 1:24:11

2021 Rally Kazakhstan – Overall Provisional Classification (after stage 5)

1. Ross Branch (Yamaha) 14:39:02 
2. Matthias Walkner (KTM) 14:44:09 
3. Adrien Van Beveren (Yamaha) 14:49:18
4. Daniel Sanders (GASGAS) 15:10:36 
5. Andrew Short (Yamaha) 15:11:23

Words & Lead Image: Yamaha Motor Europe