– Ross Branch continues in overall 2nd position
Hero MotoSports Team Rally, the motorsport team of the world’s largest manufacturer of motorcycles and scooters – Hero MotoCorp, completed the 8th Stage of Dakar Rally 2024, maintaining their 2nd overall position in the race.
Hero pilot Ross Branch finished the stage in the 8th fastest time of the day, ~3.5 minutes from the podium. Having completed 8 of 12 Stages, Ross continues to enjoy the 2nd overall position – trailing by 42 seconds from the current leader of the Rally.
Stage 8 was a long, yet less intense Stage as compared to the previous ones in this edition of the mighty Dakar. The special set out from the around the centre of Saudi Arabia – Al Duwadimi – and headed north-west towards Ha’il. The 458 km special was divided into two timed sections with a 179 km road section in between. The route started out with alternating sandy tracks, off-pistes and dunes, and later on changed sceneries into rugged terrains, with quite a lot of stony tracks.
Ross found the day fast and enjoyable, and even though he lost a bit of time in the stage early on, he was able to manage it well overall. The Botswanan has been performing consistently well to ensure his lead position on the podium. With the race inching closer to a final finish, the competition for the podium has gotten extremely tight. The time gap among the top-3 have reduced to just under 4 minutes, and the next few stages will be extremely crucial in deciding who finishes on the podium. Stage 9 tomorrow will be a long stage in the sand, and will play a key role in the decision – for which Ross has fetched himself a good starting position.
At Ha’il, the Dakar caravan camps just for a night, and heads back again westward to AlUla. The competitors will embark on a 661 km route early in the morning, of which 436 km will be timed. Stage 9 promises magnificent views, but will be more than 50% sand, clubbed with tricky navigation – and has high potential to rearrange the top order.
Ross Branch: « Today was a long stage, and a little bit risky in the morning with all the camel grass and the dunes. We lost a bit of time, but nothing too serious. It was a good stage, and overall I was able to manage the stage well. We’re in a good stage for tomorrow, the bike’s doing great and the team’s putting in the best of their efforts. Looking forward to tomorrow! »
Provisional Rankings – Stage 8
1. Kevin Benavides, RedBull KTM Factory Racing, 03h 35m 03s
2. Luciano Benavides, Husqvarna Factory Racing, + 0m 31s
3. Adrien Van Beveren, Monster Energy Honda Team ,+ 1m 27s…
8. Ross Branch, Hero MotoSports Team Rally, + 4m 49s…
Provisional Overall Rankings – at the end of Stage 8
1. Ricky Brabec, Monster Energy Honda Team, 36h 16m 31s
2. Ross Branch, Hero MotoSports Team Rally, + 0m 42s
3. Ignacio Cornejo, Monster Energy Honda Team, + 4m 21s
4. Adrien Van Beveren, Monster Energy Honda Team, + 11m 58s
5. Kevin Benavides, RedBull KTM Factory Racing, + 20m 31s…