2024 Dakar Rally Stage 7: Branch 1 second away from overall lead
Stage 7 of the 2024 Dakar Rally spanning 483km from Riyadh to Al Duwadimi has ended. The first part of the stage was a canyon maze demanding constant changes of directions culminating into a dune section. Hero MotoSport rider Ross Branch finished 5th in the stage with a time of 5 hours 25 minutes and 9 seconds. Branch started Stage 7 in 2nd place overall and still retains his position, but has closed the 51-second gap between himself and overall leader Ricky Brabec of Monster Energy Honda to just 1 second. Four Hero riders started in the 2024 Dakar Rally out of which three are no longer in the running. Ross Branch remains Hero MotoSport's only shot at victory.
Branch was in 1st place overall at the beginning of the 48 hour Stage 6 but dropped to 2nd with a virtual gap of 2 minutes and 48 seconds by the end of Day 1. On Day 2, Branch had closed the gap to Ricky Brabec of Monster Energy Honda to just 51 seconds. And with stage 7, he’s clawed that down to 1 second.
A confident Ross Branch says after finishing Stage 7, “It was a long stage, but it was fun. I enjoyed it, it was lots of open flowing tracks and some dunes in the middle. I think the racing at the front is really close so we’ve got a couple of days to try and manage it and see what we can do for the end of the rally.”
Stage 8 of the 2024 Dakar Rally will span 458km from Al Duwadimi to Hail, and will be underway on January 15. With 5 stages of the Dakar Rally still to go, the battle for overall 1st place is as tight as it can be. Things between Hero and Honda could go down to the wire.