2024 Dakar Rally Stage 8: Hero’s Branch finishes 8th in stage, retains overall 2nd
Stage 8 of the 2024 Dakar Rally covering 458km from Al Duwadimi to Hail has ended. After a gruelling Stage 7, Stage 8 treated riders to a slightly reduced intensity over a shorter distance compared to Stage 7’s shifty dunes and 483km distance. The special stage was divided into two timed sections. The first one was 165km long and the second one was 119km long. The first part of the stage required crossing sand, but with no serious obstacles to report. In the second part, soft sand was replaced with stones that demanded delicate and precise manouvering. Where riders were challenged to preserve their fuel over the last stage, the big challenge here was preserving their tyres over rocky ground.
In Stage 8, Branch finished in 8th. However, the rally leader was only one place ahead in 7th. Brabec opened up a 3-minute stage lead on Branch in Stage 8, but lost time in the last 50km which allowed Branch to hold him to a 41 second gap in stage.In the overall standings, Hero MotoSports and Branch have retained 2nd place. Unfortunately, the gap between Branch and Brabec has widened to 42 seconds.
Stage 9 will begin on January 16, and will span 417km from Hail to Al Ula. Hero MotoSports and Branch will look to reclaim that elusive 1st position overall that he lost on Day 1 of Stage 6. 4 stages of the 2024 Dakar rally remain, and the battle for the lead is getting hotter by the day.