Stage one of the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge saw riders navigate their way across rolling sand dunes and along desert tracks and offered quite a diverse challenge on day one of the rally. With all Monster Energy Yamaha Rally Team riders completing the 262-kilometre timed special and safely reaching the overnight bivouac, the entire team is now in high spirits ahead of tomorrow’s stage two.
Delivering a strong performance on the opening stage of the rally, Ross Branch secured the win following a tantalising battle with Matthias Walkner. Riding with confidence aboard his Yamaha WR450F Rally, the Botswana native enjoyed the high pace of the leaders through the desert and in claiming the stage victory, now faces the serious challenge of leading out on Monday’s stage two.
Posting the fifth-fastest time on stage one, Adrien Van Beveren enjoyed the testing conditions found on the opening day of the rally. Leading the stage for 60 kilometres and maintaining his strong pace throughout the 262-kilometre special, the Frenchman delivered an excellent result to finish just under five minutes behind Ross after nearly three and a half hours of racing.
Completing stage one just behind Adrien in sixth place was Andrew Short. The third and final member of the team relished the mixed terrain on his way to posting an impressive result on day one of the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge. Content with his riding, the American now looks to pick up his pace throughout the remaining days of the rally in a bid to close in on the overall top-five positions.
With the team enjoying a positive start to the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, the riders are now focused on tomorrow’s stage two which brings the longest special of the five-day event, with the 470.58-kilometre stage including a 333.43-kilometre timed special against the clock.