Team Hero Motosports powers through a tough 2nd stage at Dakar

– Maintains overall lead for the 2nd consecutive day

Hero MotoSports Team Rally, the motorsport team of the world’s largest manufacturer of motorcycles and scooters – Hero MotoCorp, powered through a long and challenging second stage of Dakar 2024, with all three riders finishing in good positions.

At the end of a 654 km long duel in the desert, Hero pilot Sebastian Buhler crossed the finish line clocking the 4th fastest time of the day, a mere 35 seconds away from the podium. Opener of the stage today, Ross Branch, finished in the 11th position, followed by Joan Barreda in the 16th spot, among Rally GP class competitors.

The 2nd stage of the world’s toughest rally was a long and dangerous one mostly featuring long expanses suited for fast riding. The day started with a short stint of dune crossings, and soon after shifted to long fast tracks seasoned with tricky navigation, alternating wadis and off-piste zones, sand tracks and canyons.

Sebastian Buhler found the day far more rewarding and flowing than yesterday. He was able to maintain a good rhythm all throughout the stage, and rode strong to reach today’s Top-5. Buhler’s powerful performance today moves him 2 spots up in the overall Rally GP class rankings – to the 13th position.

The winner of the previous stage, Ross Branch, was handed the tough job of opening Stage 02, and he did an impressive job – finishing just under 6.5 minutes from the podium. The navigation was extremely difficult on this long stage, and Ross ended up making a few mistakes early on. However, he recouped in the latter half and continues to enjoy the overall top position at Dakar 2024, with a ~3-minute lead from the 2nd place holder.

Joan Barreda too had a challenging day in the long stage. While picking up a strong pace in the last 100 kms after conquering the navigational complexities earlier, he was handed an 8-minute time penalty for speeding. If not for this setback, Joan would have otherwise finished in the 8th place today. In the overall Rally GP class tally, Joan is currently at the 12th spot.

Coming up next is another long stage – a 733 kilometer ride from Al Duwadimi to Al Salamiya, of which 438 kms will be timed. Stage 3 will serve as the first leg of a half-marathon stage – where the riders and assistance teams will spend the night in different bivouacs at the end of the stage. Mechanics will get only 2 hours to work on the bikes at the end of the special, before the machines enter the marathon bivouac and a parc fermé.

Sebastian Buhler: « Stage 2 was much more flowing, unlike the rocky and harsh terrains of yesterday. I had a lot of fun, but my body is a bit sore from my crash yesterday. I managed to ride well, and maintain a good rhythm all through the stage. I’m happy with how the bike performed, and also with my navigation – there were quite a lot of tricky points today. Now, let’s go for Day 3! »

Ross Branch: « Today was really tough. We had a lot of navigation to do, and it was super hard. I made a couple of mistakes in the morning, but thankfully a bunch of us regrouped around 100 kms, and we all rode together till refuel. We tried some different things, all to stay in the game. I lost a bit of time today, but then that’s racing. Looking forward to tomorrow, yet another long stage ahead. »

Joan Barreda: « It was a really long stage today, not at all an easy one. Difficult navigation and some really critical situations were seen all through the stage. In the last 100 kms I got a small time penalty for speeding, and lost some points. Anyway, it’s only the 2nd day today, we have a long way to go and I am sure we will recover and come back stronger in the next stages. »

Provisional Rankings – Stage 2 (Rally GP Class)
1. Ignacio Cornejo, Monster Energy Honda Team, 04h 24m 17s
2. Luciano Benavides, Husqvarna Factory Racing, + 5m 59s
3. Pablo Quintanilla, Monster Energy Honda Team, + 6m 12s
4. Sebastian Buhler, Hero MotoSports Team Rally, + 6m 47s…
11. Ross Branch, Hero MotoSports Team Rally, + 11m 53s…
16. Joan Barreda Bort, Hero MotoSports Team Rally, + 17m 00s…

Provisional Overall Rankings – at the end of Stage 2 (Rally GP Class)
1. Ross Branch, Hero MotoSports Team Rally, 05h 13m 15s
2. Ignacio Cornejo, Monster Energy Honda Team, + 2m 55s
3. Ricky Brabec, Monster Energy Honda Team, + 7m 15s…
12. Joan Barreda Bort, Hero MotoSports Team Rally, + 28m 56s
13. Sebastian Buhler, Hero MotoSports Team Rally, + 30m 44s…