2024 Dakar Rally Stage 10: Hero MotoSports‘ Branch finishes 7th in stage, holds 2nd overall
Stage 10 of the 2024 Dakar Rally consisting of a 371km special stage and a 241km liaison within AlUla has ended. Yesterday’s Stage 9 demanded precise navigation from riders with tyre tracks that were hard to follow. In contrast, Stage 10 presented them with a fast and tricky obstacle course mined with large rocks where it would be easy to make a mistake.
Hero Motosports’ Ross Branch posted the fastest time to the first time check (39km), where he was over a minute ahead of overall leader Ricky Brabec in the virtual standings. At the second time check (91km), Branch was 1 minute and 11 seconds ahead of Brabec. Unfortunately, Brabec caught up to Branch about 150km into the stage, with Branch crossing the third time check (180km) 1 minute and 17 seconds behind Brabec. At the 180km refuelling stop, Brabec had opened up his overall lead to 8 minutes and 48 seconds.
Ross Branch finished Stage 10 in 7th place, behind the overall leader by 3 minutes and 45 seconds. In the overall standings, Branch remained in 2nd place but fell to 10 minutes and 9 seconds behind overall leader Ricky Brabec. This marks an increase from the 7 minutes and 9 seconds gap at the end of Stage 9.
Ross Branch remarked before starting Stage 10, “The pressure is kicking now for everybody. It’s crunch time and I would have liked to have been up there a little bit closer today, but that’s racing.” Ricky Brabec, who finished Stage 10 in 1st place, conceded that the 2024 Dakar Rally was the most ‘stressful’ race of his life.
Stage 11 of the 2024 Dakar Rally will cover 480km from Al Ula to Yanbu and will start on January 18. Hero Motosports and Ross Branch have just two stages to steal a win before the conclusion of the Dakar Rally. And yet, the race isn’t over.