South Africa’s National Cross Country Champion Ross Branch has been crowned the fastest Rookie at the 2019 Dakar Rally in Peru. After 10 of the most gruelling stages the desert race has ever seen, Branch finished amongst the world’s best in 13th overall.
Having replaced his entire engine on stage two, navigated through unfamiliar South American terrain like ‘fesh-fesh’, and acquired new navigational skills unique to the Dakar; the rider from Botswana crossed the finish line on 17 January.
Branch has dreamed of conquering the Dakar since he was six years old aftering watching riders pass through Namibia, and vowed that he would someday be one of them. He has since spent the last 26 years refining his skills as both a Motocross and Cross Country rider.
While he is affectionately known as the ‘Kalahari Ferrari’, even those deserts couldn’t prepare Branch for the sheer enormity of the dunes in Peru.
“The dunes are honestly like nothing I have ever seen before. There were some scary moments out there – I don’t think spectators could ever fully comprehend how big they are from TV,” said Branch.
To place in the top 20 at what was described by 2019 Dakar winner Toby Price as the “toughest rally he’s ever done” is an incredible feat. Dakar Rally director Etienne Lavigne explained, "We built more technical and difficult stages this year because of the type of geography of sand and dunes in Peru."
This is hopefully the start of a long-term career in Rally racing for Branch, who has done everything he possibly can to potentially secure a factory deal.
“I honestly can’t put into words what this moment means to me – riding across the finish line of the Dakar Rally as the first Rookie! It took so much to get here, but this moment makes everything worth it,” enthused Branch.
KTM South Africa’s Managing Director, Franziska Brandl, gives a closing comment after supporting Branch in Peru for the past ten days: "Seeing Ross cross the finish line of the 2019 Dakar Rally was a truly special moment. When Ross came to me with the idea of racing Dakar two years ago I gave him my full personal support. He worked extremely hard towards this and rewarding us and himself with a 13th place overall and win in the Rookies category is more than what we ever could have asked for. He rode a smart race and rubbed shoulders with the world’s best. Rally is sure something that could prolongue his racing career and best of all, although it was hard work all along, he truly enjoyed every second of this experience which makes it even more rewarding. To say I am proud is an understatement and knowing that the whole of Botswana and South Africa supported him all along still gives me goose bumps. Thank you to everyone that helped him reach his dream, from moral support to all the sponsorship received. This sport is something truly special and a race with the magnitude of Dakar shows us how closely knit this community is. I salute you all!"
Glendale, AZ – January 12, 2019 – Following his stellar win at the Monster Energy AMA Supercross season opener, Monster Energy Star Yamaha Racing’s Colt Nichols rode a smart race to hold onto his championship lead with a solid second-place finish at State Farm Stadium.
Nichols got the night off to a great start with a heat win aboard his Yamaha YZ250F. He was hoping to repeat that in the main, but the track conditions tested a rider’s patience and the 24yr old made a few mistakes trying to push for the win. At the end of the day, Nichols was rewarded with an important point haul, giving him a five-point lead in the 250SX West title chase.
Unfortunately for his teammate Dylan Ferrandis, the challenging conditions made for a disappointing round two. The Frenchman started the day looking like the man to beat, showing a lot of speed and topping the time charts in qualifying. Ferrandis got a decent start but had a big crash that ended his hopes of a repeat podium finish. Still, he never gave up and fought his way back to sixth to score valuable championship points.The Monster Energy/Star/ Yamaha Racing team returns to Anaheim, California, next Saturday, January 19, for round 3 of the Monster Energy AMA Supercross Championship at Angels Stadium of Anaheim.
As the world’s toughest stage race officially reaches the halfway mark, Ross Branch will be using every minute he can to rest at the Dakar Rally today. After coming off a gruelling marathon stage, riders are now recovering on rest day. A day that does not usually foresee any riding will however see riders tackle a 177km liaison stage to shorten the following race day. The racing action will then continue tomorrow back to San Juan de Marcona.
With a current 22nd provisional place overall, Branch has long abandoned the nerves of being a Dakar Rookie and instead describes “having the time of his life”.
He has faced some hair-raising challenges that had the potential to put his Dakar journey to a halt at times. But the joy of living out his Dakar dream has clearly surpassed them all.
We used rest day as an opportunity to catch up with the rising desert star:Physically, what does your body feel like right now? How demanding have the last five days been on your body?
My body is feeling good, surprisingly enough. I made it to rest day in one piece! The last five days have been hectic on my body, especially with the added weight on my back that I needed to carry. Other than that, though, I’m feeling healthy and strong and ready for week two!
How have your goals changed now that the first few stages are behind you?
My goals haven’t changed at all actually. One of the goals was to get into the top 20 overall, which I’ve proved is within reach. I’m just going to take it day by day though, and make sure my bike and my body stays in one piece! If I can keep up my navigation at the speed that I’m going, then I’m happy.
How has the first half of fulfilling your Dakar dream lived up to your expectations?
Experiencing the Dakar is truly living my dream - it’s everything I wanted it to be and more. I didn’t expect to be having so much fun on my bike, even on the long stages. I’m honestly having the time of my life!
What has been the most challenging stage that you've faced so far and why?
Stage five was the hardest stage I’ve ridden, I could write a book about it! The terrain changed so much, and the navigation was really tough. There was also a lot of fesh -fesh (powdery sand), which is something we’re not used to back home. The dunes were massive – I don’t think people can comprehend how big they are on TV. If that wasn’t challenging enough, I also had a crash and burst my fuel tank! I nursed it back home, but I lost a lot of time.
As South Africa's fastest Cross-Country rider, it's not often you ride in someone else's dust. What's it been like to follow the best riders in this sport?
The guys are unbelievably quick, even faster than what we thought they would be. To ride with the best Dakar riders in the world is really quite something. Yesterday morning I was lucky enough to break into the top 20, so I got to line up with some previous Dakar winners. It was an incredible experience! I realised I’ve got a bit of homework to do on the navigational side of things and need to work on my dunes. But I also saw that my pace is there – now everything else just needs to come together.Going into the next five stages, what are you focusing on to be even more successful in the second half?
The next five stages I’ll be focusing on navigating and trying go a bit quicker. It depends on the stage though because some days the terrain suits me and other days it takes me right out of my comfort zone. The main thing is to just keep my head down and stay out of trouble, and then hopefully get faster every day.
Take us a through a specific highlight that you've experienced in the last five days.
The first day started off slow, but then I saw big improvements and began moving up places. I’ve been getting better and better at navigation and pushed the pace more with each stage. So I guess the highlight is experiencing those improvements, and getting to tick off the goals I had set for myself.
KTM South Africa is excited to announce that KwaZulu-Natal based rider Bradley Cox will be racing for the Brother Leader Tread KTM team in 2019.
The 20-year old, who is the son of motorsport legend Alfie Cox, has practically grown up on motorcycles. His interest in racing only started in 2005, however, when he began the process of stepping out of his father’s shadow to build a racing career of his own.
As the sponsorship from KTM South Africa steps in to support his racing dreams, Cox explained:
“If someday I can match my dad’s legacy, then that’s really cool. But at the end of the day, I just want to race my bike for a long time and be a role model to the younger generation in my own way. Finding my place on the KTM South Africa factory team is a long-term dream come true for me,” he said.
The young Cox is fast becoming renowned as a multiple disciplined athlete with a talent in Motocross, Enduro, and Cross-Country style events.
In 2018 he finished fifth overall in the National Enduro E1 Class and secured multiple top five positions throughout the National Motocross season. His most defining moment came, however, when he chased down the National Cross Country OR3 title.
After a truly nail-biting season, he placed second overall by a mere point’s difference. As he prepares to take his place at the 2019 start line in orange kit, he commented:
“Winning that National Cross Championship will be a big goal that I’m aiming to tick off this year. I also want to have consistent top three finishes in MX2 for motocross and in the E1 Class for enduro. I’ll be fighting for a race win every time I line up though - I’m feeling really confident going into 2019.”
Signing up for a full season of racing in all three disciplines is not a task for the faint-hearted. With clear Cox racing genes, the rider is undaunted as he looks to the action-packed year ahead:
“Last year was a very good building year for me, and I’m starting to prove that I’m one of the few riders in South Africa that can race all three disciplines. I split up my training well and have a fitness coach that helps me. In the bigger perspective though, everything links up - speed helps my enduro riding and technical training helps me with control in motocross,” explained Cox.
The rider will continue living on his father’s farm in Zululand this year, with Pietermaritzburg’s endless training ground as his backyard.
“Living on a farm gives me the freedom to do as much offroad type training as I like. There are also so many motocross tracks nearby. A lot of enduro riders call the forests of Hilton the ‘heart of South Africa’s enduro training ground’, so being within driving distance from that is a massive bonus too,” he added.
Cox will join the prestigious list of KTM athletes for Motocross and will focus on racing for the Brother Leader Tread KTM team for Enduro and Cross Country.
With the addition of a young and promising rider to KTM South Africa, the orange brand’s Managing Director Franziska Brandl enthused:
"Bradley has been part of the orange KTM family for all his life, with his father and KTM dealer Alfie Cox mentoring him. He is a great athlete who works hard and markets himself well. We cannot ask for a better addition to the team to round off the complement of riders of an already dominant team. With him representing the team in the OR3 class in Cross Country as well as the E1 class in Enduro we have a future champion in the making who will also continue to represent the brand in the MX class in Motocross. We are excited to get the 2019 season underway."
Colt Nichols got the new year off to a sensational start tonight, taking his first career Monster Energy AMA Supercross 250SX win at the season opener at Angels Stadium of Anaheim. It was great night for Monster Energy/Star/ Yamaha Racing with teammate Dylan Ferrandis joining the Oklahoma native on the podium in second-place.
Nichols started the night looking poised for a top result with his solid second-place finish in his Heat race. When the gate dropped for the Main Event, he was ready. He got a good start and went on to lead every lap of the race in spite of worsening weather conditions. The result was an impressive win for the 24yr old and a stunning debut for the all-new 2019 Yamaha YZ250F.
It was a much more difficult night for Ferrandis, but the Frenchman never stopped fighting. He showed his resolve in his Heat race, charging back through the field after breaking free of a first corner melee. By comparison, the Main Event was much smoother, Ferrandis battling in the mud to claim second spot on the podium to make it a Yamaha 1-2.
Justin Barcia Defies the Conditions to Conquer Anaheim 1
Anaheim, CA – January 5, 2019 – Justin Barcia fired the first shot of the 2019 Monster Energy AMA Supercross season, taking a thrilling victory aboard the Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing Team YZ450F at Anaheim 1.
It was a perfect night for Barcia, taking both Heat and main event wins. The win didn’t come easy either. In addition to the stacked field in the premier class, Mother Nature threw in an extra challenge, dumping more and more water on the track. Barcia put his head down though, and knocked down the laps to take his first 450SX win since Seattle Supercross 2013.
Adding to an already stellar night for Yamaha as a whole, Barcia’s teammate Aaron Plessinger had an impressive debut. The rookie was able to battle with the best, finishing third in his heat and sixth in the main event.
The Monster Energy/Star/ Yamaha Racing team heads to Glendale, Arizona, next Saturday, January 12, for Round 2 of the Monster Energy AMA Supercross Championship at State Farm Stadium.
THE SKY RACING TEAM VR46 AT THE POPULAR TALENT SHOW X FACTOR FOR THE UNVEIL OF THE NEW LIVERIES FOR THE NEXT SEASON.
LUCA MARINI AND NICOLO BULEGA IN MOTO2 WITH KALEX.
DENNIS FOGGIA AND CELESTINO VIETTI RAMUS IN MOTO3 WITH KTM.
PABLO NIETO AT THE HEAD OF THE TEAM OF THE YOUNG ITALIAN TALENTS FOR THE FIFTH CONSECUTIVE YEAR.
AFTER THE WORLD TITLE IN MOTO2, IN 2019 FRANCESCO BAGNAIA WILL DEBUT IN MOTOGP
Milan, December 13th 2018. As every year, the last stop before the Christmas holidays for the riders of the Sky Racing Team VR46 is the final of the popular musical talent show X Factor. For the occasion, Luca Marini, Nicolò Bulega, Dennis Foggia and Celestino Vietti Ramus, together with the Team Manager Pablo Nieto and World Champion Francesco Bagnaia, have unveiled - live on Sky Uno - the liveries of Moto2 and Moto3 for the 2019 season.
After a 2018 of records with the world title, 9 victories, 7 pole positions and 4 different riders on the podium, the Team born in 2014 from the collaboration between Sky and the VR46 to support the growth path of the young Italian motorcycling talents has confirmed 4 bikes in two categories for the 2019 season: in Moto2 Nicolò Bulega will join Luca Marini on Kalex while, in Moto3, Celestino Vietti Ramus will be alongside Dennis Foggia on KTM. At the same time, Pecco Bagnaia will be the first rider of the Sky VR46 project to debut in MotoGP on the Ducati of Team Alma Pramac Racing.
Many technical innovations for the new Moto2 couple, with Marini, who will race with number 10, very fast from the first testing session with the new Triumph engine and Bulega at the debut in the middle category with his historic 11. In Moto3, it is confirmed the duo that has closed the last season with Foggia and Vietti Ramus, at the start respectively with the 7 and the 13, and ready to be protagonists.
Waiting for them also a new livery revisited in the colors and lines: a touch of gray from the fuel tank up to the leather suits and to the whole image of the Team. A game of contrasts and lights, thanks to the presence of chromed blue, which gives new freshness to a look already tested over the years. Innovation and modernity also in the logo that distinguishes the side of the Sky VR46 livery: from the classic circle that refers to the Team logo, to the Q of Sky Q, the new experience of vision that has reinvented the way of living TV.
In both categories, the Sky Racing Team VR46 will be able to count on the commitment and trust of partners who have embraced the philosophy of the Team. Next to Oakley, which will be the main partner also in 2019, DELLORTO and Eni will continue to support the project with the brand of lubricants I-Ride and then Monster Energy, as well as Dainese and AGV, together with the Team since 2014.
Due to the incredible demand for the YZF-R1 GYTR '20th Anniversary' by the huge number of passionate Yamaha fans, applications are now closed for this very limited-edition machine.
The 2019 YZF-R1 GYTR '20th Anniversary’ is a hyper exclusive piece of motorsport history! This track only machine sports the same livery used by the Yamaha Factory Racing Team when they smashed their own record, winning a fourth consecutive Suzuka 8 Hours.
This racetrack ready titan is an ultra-performance beast with 20 units built, one for each year the YZF-R1 has been tearing up the rule book and changing the game. Each unit has its limited-edition number engraved on the top yoke and is shipped with a certificate of authenticity.
Each one of these exclusive bikes will be painstakingly assembled, thoroughly tested and fine-tuned with their new owner in mind. They will be put together by an Official Yamaha Racing Team crew, receive a full dyno engine run-in and get a first oil change with premium Yamalube oil. These units will be ready to conquer the track, right out of the box.
Every lucky owner who gets their hands on one of these supreme pieces is automatically invited to attend the Yamaha Racing Experience in Spring/Summer 2019. For those who choose to attend, they will receive an exclusive YZF-R1 GYRT set up session designed to fine tune their track conquering beast even further, so they can squeeze every available millisecond of race pace out of their bike.
This iconic race machine is for circuit use only and cannot be registered for road usage.
Model updates: The new CRF250RX arrives in cross-country specification to further strengthen Honda's off-road line-up. Sharing the frame and engine hardware of the CRF250R moto-crosser, it is fully adapted to its role, with 8.5L fuel tank, forged aluminium sidestand and 18-inch rear wheel, plus revisions to power delivery and suspension settings. It also features 3-level HRC Launch Control as standard.
2. Model Overview
In common with the CRF450RX, the CRF250RX uses the rock-solid base of its moto-cross sibling and adds the essential ingredients for closed-course cross-country riding. Thus, it features a 8.5L fuel tank (like the CRF450RX), and also uses an 18-inch rear wheel plus revised suspension settings front and rear. Fuelling and ignition mapping have also been adjusted to deliver a softer power delivery compared to the moto-crosser, and a forged aluminium sidestand is fitted as standard.
The CRF250RX also benefits from the upgrades made to the CRF250R for 19YM: engine changes which boost low-rpm torque to gain time out of slower corners
(thanks to revisions from the throttle body all the way to the exhaust), a new front brake caliper, Renthal Fatbars and 3-mode HRC Launch Control to help any rider gain a good start, every time.
3. Key Features
- Strong bottom-end torque, same top-end power as CRF250R
- Benefits from 19YM CRF250R upgrades: revised throttle body, cylinder head, intake and exhaust for improved low-down performance
- 3 level HRC Launch Control optimises start performance
New for YM19 (and as with the CRF250R) HRC's Launch Control system gives any rider the best option for a strong start and has 3 modes to choose from:
Level 3 - 8,250rpm, muddy conditions/beginner
Level 2 - 8,500rpm, dry conditions/basic
Level 1 - 9,500rpm, dry conditions/expert
Activating HRC Launch Control is easy - to turn on, pull in the clutch and push the Start button (on the right). The LED will blink once for Level 1 selection. Push the Start button again, for 0.5s or longer, and the LED will blink twice for Level 2. Repeat the process and the LED will blink 3 times, indication Level 3 has been chosen.
The Engine Mode Select Button (EMSB) alters the engine's characteristics and three maps are available to suit riding conditions or rider preference: Mode 1 (Standard), Mode 2 (Smooth) and Mode 3 (Aggressive). The LED also displays Mode selected.
- Renthal Fatbar has 4-way adjustable positioning
- DID rims finished in black, 18-inch rear wheel
- Shares CRF250R upgrades for 19YM: new front brake caliper and hose for improved stopping performance; redesigned sump guard and fork protectors
The CRF250RX uses the same tapered-spar aluminium frame as the CRF250R, which returns excellent feedback and rear wheel grip due to its low centre of gravity.
Unchanged in its transition to RX-spec. it does use anew twin-piston front brake caliper - common with the YM19 CRF450R - which has 30 and 27mm diameter pistons. This allows for a lighter body and, along with low expansion rate brake hose, improved brake feel and staying power. It works on a 260mm wave-pattern disc, matched by a rear 240mm wave-pattern disc and single-piston caliper.
The trails are calling, and the all-new, road-legal CRF450L answers, expanding customers' off-road possibilities by enabling access to the best riding trails on public lands, even when that means connecting them via asphalt roads. Based on the CRF450R, the durable CRF450L is a full-fledged off-road machine, but with street legality achieved via features like LED lighting, mirrors, and a dedicated exhaust system, making this bike equally at home in the woods, desert, or the roads in between.
CRF450L Key Features
- Lightweight, 7.6 litre titanium fuel tank for long range
- Riding time maximized by lightweight, compact LED lighting system, featuring headlight with high-intensity projection for illuminating broad area
- Rear-view mirrors
- Lightweight lithium-ion battery with increased capacity compared to CRF450R, to power electrical components
- Lightweight, compact digital meter with black characters on a white liquid-crystal background is easily legible while riding
- 449.7cc Unicam® engine specially tailored for trail-to-trail riding
- Finger rocker arm contributes to compact layout while using dedicated design to attain off-road-specific power characteristics. DLC surface treatment reduces friction
- Dedicated valve timing for smooth power delivery in technical riding
- High crank inertia (up 12% over CRF450R) for tractable power delivery in technical terrain
- 12.0:1 compression ratio
- New piston with three-ring design
- Wide-ratio six-speed transmission is ready for a wide variety of off-road terrain or road going
- Special clutch design enables light lever pull. Primary damper mechanism with friction springs suppresses engine torque fluctuations, ensuring smooth running
- Large-capacity radiators with high heat-exchange efficiency for strong performance in demanding off-road conditions
- Electric fan and thermostat control engine temperature in brutal conditions
- ECU with dedicated settings
- Noise emissions minimized via covers on the left and right crank cases
- Powerful AC generator for street-legal lighting
- Air cleaner box
- Dedicated single-muffler exhaust system provides great sound while meeting emissions requirements
- Aluminium twin-spar frame designed for nimble-yet-stable handling on trails
- Subframe designed to ensure optimum rigidity balance appropriate for carrying tools
- 49mm Showa fork with dedicated settings for trail-to-trail riding
- Shock based on that of the CRF450R but with dedicated settings and link ratio for off-road riding
- Front brake uses design from CRF450R, but with better fade resistance thanks to thicker discs and large-capacity reservoir
- Endless sealed chain withstands the elements
- Front and rear sprockets, produced in durable steel material, feature damper system for smooth, quiet running
- Urethane injection in swing arm to reduce road noise
- Fuel tank cap with a cut-off valve prevents fuel from flowing out of tank if the bike is on its side
- LED turn signals with flexible mounts for durability
- Easily accessible electronic component box on left side of the frame
- Black 7/8" Renthal handlebar with red pad
- Compact, lightweight handlebar switches
- In-mold graphics are resistant to peeling caused by washing or abrasion
- IRC GP-21F/GP-22R tires provide great balance of on- and off-road performance
- Black rims for strong presence
This weekend marked the 51st edition of Africa’s oldest enduro race – the Roof of Africa. Making a guest appearance in the Brother Leader Tread KTM squad was Lyndon Poskitt, an international rider well-known for his popular travel series ‘Races to Places’.
As a Malles Moto Dakar Rally specialist, signing up for Africa’s ‘Mother of Hard Enduro’ was a massive undertaking.
While navigating through unfamiliar territory came as no surprise to Poskitt, the pounding Lesotho trails, heat and high elevations were certainly a rude awakening.
“To put this into perspective, I spent 9 hours taking on massive distances at the Dakar. Today we did 140km’s and it took me the same amount of time!” he said.
While he admits that after the time trial he grew extremely nervous about what he had signed up for, the rider stood in triumph on his Motorex green 2018 KTM 250 EXC TPI on Saturday as he crossed the finish line. Not only did he complete his first enduro race of this nature, but managed to place 23rd in the Silver Class.
“I felt a bit like a fish out of water coming to do this, but here I am at the finish line! The terrain has been amazing and so diverse – from river crossings, drop-offs and steep climbs to rolling hills. The bike has been absolutely perfect, I loved it so much that I rang the dealer back home and bought one!” said an excited Poskitt.
Another stand-out achievement came from Brother Leader Tread KTM’s Kirsten Landman.
As the only female in her class, she impressively conquered the Gold route for the third time in her career. After 21 hours of riding in three days, Landman finished in 25th among the country’s enduro elite – the highest she has ever ranked in this event.
“The days were long and there were lots of passes, it was an absolutely incredible route. There were times I just opened up the throttle and closed my eyes, but that’s why it’s called an extreme enduro – the stuff we do out there is extreme! This was by far the most victorious Roof of Africa for me, I’m over the moon,” enthused Landman.
Rounding out the orange squad was Dwayne Kleynhans, who put on the best ‘Mother of Hard Enduro’ performance of his career.
A podium finish looked promising for the rider when he wrapped up the first long day of mountain racing with a third place overall. However, after coming back from an arm injury that almost cost him the entire 2018 season, Kleynhans was pleased to have finished as high up in the ranks as he did.
“It was touch and go at some points whether I’d even be able to enter the Roof this year. I’m slightly disappointed to have missed the podium, but at the same time I feel so privileged to have made it to the start line and raced as hard as I did,” said Kleynhans.
Missing from action was Scott Bouverie, who had to pull out of the event on the first race day due to illness. After a time trial that put Bouverie in the position to fight for the coveted Roof of Africa title, the Brother Leader Tread KTM team were gutted by the news.
“Scott has gone through a testing year, filled with injuries and health issues, a year he’d more than likely want to forget. Despite all of this we continue to believe in Scott. He is one of the most talented riders in South Africa and seeing him push through pain to a point that his body could not take it anymore was heart breaking to say the least. Scott is the type of rider that will push on, even though in pain, so to see him abandoning his race shows the severity of his health issues and was the wise call to make. We’re hoping to see Scott come back strong again 2019, he has proven his worth many times and will sure continue to do so.” said Franziska Brandl, Managing Director of KTM South Africa.