2024 Dakar Rally Stage 11: Hero MotoSports’ Branch wins the stage, closes in on overall lead

Hero MotoSport‘ Branch wins the stage, 32 seconds closer to overall lead
Hero MotoSports' Ross Branch is in 2nd with one stage to go
Hero MotoSports' Ross Branch is in 2nd with one stage to goPAVOL TOMASKIN

Stage 11 of the 2024 Dakar Rally covering a 420km special stage with a 107km liaison from Al Ula to Yanbu has ended. The Stage 11 route was the longest of the second week of the rally and had the potential to shuffle up the standings. The stage predominantly took competitors over inhospitable, brittle terrain with riders being challenged to protect their tyres from punctures and the ensuing delays.

Hero MotoSports’ Ross Branch won Stage 11 by 32 seconds, from overall leader Ricky Brabec. This marks Branch’s second stage win after emerging victorious in Stage 1. In the overall standings, Branch held 2nd position but gained 32 seconds on Brabec. Branch is now away from the overall lead by 10 minutes and 22 seconds.

Branch remarked before starting Stage 11, “Ricky’s stepped up the level and he’s doing well. It’s going to be hard to catch him. This finish is only when the chequered flag finishes at the end of the race. We’ll keep on fighting right till the end and who knows, maybe we’ll get lucky. This is racing, anything can happen.”

93km into Stage 11, Ross Branch achieved the fastest time with Ricky Brabec trailing by 2 minutes and 11 seconds in the stage. After 193km, the gap was 4 minutes and 18 seconds in the stage. Branch posted faster times than Brabec for most of the stage, but Brabec pulled ahead in the virtual general rankings with less than 90km before the finish line on account of his 5 minutes and 19 seconds in bonuses.

Stage 12, the final stage of the 2024 Dakar Rally, will cover 175km in Yanbu itself. Hero and Branch are 10 minutes and 22 seconds away from the overall lead, but are closing in fast. The race isn’t over yet, and as Branch said, anything can happen. The 2024 Dakar Rally may still come down to a nail-biting finish on January 19.

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