Intends to rev up more Batswana bikers to tackle grueling race
After tackling the Dakar Rally for the second time recently, biker Ross Branch is appealing for more Batswana bikers to take on the grueling race.
This year was the second time that Branch participated in the Dakar Rally where he finished 13th overall after clinching an award for Best Rookie for the 2019 edition. This year, Branch emerged in 23rd position out of 96 riders who completed 12 stages over unforgiving terrain. The iconic event swapped South America for this year’s inaugural race in Saudi Arabia that started in Jeddah on January 5 and finished in Qiddiya on January 17.
Even though he managed to win a stage and attained two top five stage finishes, Branch’s 2020 Dakar Rally experience was marred by accidents and punchers that almost derailed his dream. “We (Branch and his team) started off well and unfortunately had some bad luck with a crash and a mechanical failure during the race,” he told Gazette Sport in a telephone interview. “And we lost a lot of time trying to fix the problems.”
His target having been an overall top 10 finish, Branch said he nevertheless had a great Dakar and is happy that he has the speed of the fastest in the world. “And it was really an amazing feeling crossing the finishing line on Friday last week,” he enthused.
It is these achievements that are motivating the 33-year old biker to encourage more local bikers take on the challenge of Dakar whose experience he is looking to sharing with them because he believes in them. “And the great lesson that I will pass on to them is that they must never give up on their dreams because anything is possible,” he said.
Asked what is next on his agenda after the latest Dakar Rally, Branch returned: “With the damage to my shoulder, my team and I have to assess the situation. I hope to be back on the bike soon, and if everything goes well, I would like to be ready for the first round of the World Championships in March.”
ABOUT THE DAKAR RALLY
Formerly known as the Paris-Dakar Rally, the event is an annual rally organised by the Amaury Sport Organisation. Most events since the inception in 1978 were staged from Paris, France to Dakar, Senegal but due to the security threats in Mauritania, which led to the cancellation of the 2008 rally, events from 2009 to 2019 were held in South America. The 2020 edition was held in Saudi Arabia. The rally is an off-road endurance event. The terrain that the competitors traverse is much tougher than that used in conventional rallying, and the vehicles and bikes used are true off-roaders rather than modified on-road vehicles. The gruelling rally is run in stages and the distances of each stage covered vary from short to 900 kilometres.