Hero MotoSports Team Rally, the motorsport team of the world’s largest manufacturer of motorcycles and scooters – Hero MotoCorp, maintained their consistent performance in the fourth Stage of Dakar 2024.
Team Hero MotoSports’ two riders continuing in the ‘toughest Dakar yet in Saudi’ – Ross Branch and Joan Barreda finished Stage 4 in the 4th and 7th places respectively.
The second half of a semi-Marathon stage, Stage 4 was yet another long, hard slog of 632 kms from Al Salamiya to Al Hofuf. After spending the night all by themselves in the marathon bivouac, the competitors retrieved their bikes from the parc fermé early in the morning to conquer this long stage. Even though the terrain was faster and easier in today’s 300 km special, the road book instructions were quite tricky, making it difficult like the previous days.
For Ross Branch, Stage 4 was a tough day in the saddle. He encountered two minor crashes across the day, once early on around the 40 km point, and then later just about 20 km from the finish. He still rode strong to finish the stage just outside the podium. After enjoying 3 consecutive days at the overall first place in the Dakar 2024 classifications, the Botswanan star moved one step down to the overall 2nd place, after losing his lead today in the stage.
Joan Barreda has endured quite some struggles since the beginning of the race, and Stage 4 was a yet another difficult day in the desert. The early retirement of his fellow teammates Joaquim Rodrigues and Sebastian Buhler are also a huge loss for him and the team. However, undeterred by his circumstances, the Dakar legend is determined to push on and recover his stance in the coming stages.
Up next is an interesting stage of only 118 kms in a sea of dunes where the average speed is sure to nosedive. However, the competitors look dreadfully at a massive 527 kms in road sections, which are sure to tire them down even before the special starts. The Dakar caravan will head out early in the morning and set up camp in Shubaytah for the next few days.
Ross Branch: « Stage 4 was also a tough one. Navigation was tricky this morning, so just took it easy and made sure I got everything right. I had a small crash at around 40 kms, but I was okay. We pretty much all stayed together until refuel. And towards the last, around 20 kms before the finish I had one more small crash. I think I should focus on staying on the bike for the next week! But otherwise, everything’s good today. »
Joan Barreda: « Well, I know it hasn’t been an easy race for me so far in this Dakar. However, we’re still in the race, pushing on positively, thinking of some options, and putting in my best efforts. Basti and JRod are very important for the team, and unfortunately they are out of the Dakar. We are only two riders left in the race, and we are determined to fight with all our force to gain the best positions for Hero MotoSports. »
Provisional Rankings – Stage 4 (Rally GP Class)
1. Ignacio Cornejo – Monster Energy Honda Team, 02h 51m 11s
2. Ricky Brabec – Monster Energy Honda Team, + 2m 59s
3. Kevin Benavides – RedBull KTM Factory Racing, + 3m 18s
4. Ross Branch – Hero MotoSports Team Rally, + 4m 26s…
7. Joan Barreda Bort – Hero MotoSports Team Rally, + 8m 15s…
Provisional Overall Rankings – at the end of Stage 4 (Rally GP Class)
1. Ignacio Cornejo – Monster Energy Honda Team, 17h 23m 13s
2. Ross Branch – Hero MotoSports Team Rally, + 1m 15s
3. Ricky Brabec – Monster Energy Honda Team, + 4m 56s…
11. Joan Barreda Bort – Hero MotoSports Team Rally, + 42m 34s…