Dakar 2024: Hero’s Ross Branch wins Stage 1

    Hero MotoSports’ Joaquim Rodrigues and Indian privateer Ashish Raorane are both out of Dakar 2024 after separate crashes.

    Published On Jan 07, 2024 10:29:00 AM

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    Hero MotoSports Ross Branch wins Dakar 2024 Stage 1

    Branch takes the overall lead of the 2024 Dakar Rally.

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    Indian squad Hero MotoSports has enjoyed a strong start to the 2024 Dakar Rally, with Ross Branch winning Stage 1 and taking the overall lead.

    It was a challenging opening stage that caught out several top riders and drivers. Unfortunately, Hero MotoSports’ Joaquim Rodrigues and Indian privateer Ashish Raorane are both out of Dakar 2024 after separate crashes.

    1. Bort P13, Buhler P19 in Stage 1
    2. Al-Attiyah, Loeb caught out by punctures

    Branch wins Dakar 2024 Stage 1; Rodrigues out

    Rodrigues crashed 82km into the stage, momentarily losing consciousness as he fell head over on the ground. His two Hero MotoSports teammates Joan Barreda Bort and Sebastian Buhler reached the spot shortly after and helped out till Rodrigues was taken to AlUla Hospital.

    While this is the end of his Dakar 2024 run, Rodrigues escaped with major injuries, with scans revealing he’s only suffered a broken thumb.

    In sharp contrast, Ross Branch set the fastest time of Stage 1 to secure his fourth career Dakar stage win. He finished over 10 minutes clear of second-placed Honda rider Ricky Brabec. Prologue winner Tosha Schareina also bowed out of this year’s edition after fracturing his arm.

    “It was a really challenging first stage at the Dakar. This was probably one of the longest stages I’ve ever experienced at Dakar. I had a strong start, but things got tricky after I found Tosha crashing shortly after refuelling, and I then remained by his side until medical assistance arrived,” said Branch.

    “Finding a good rhythm afterward proved challenging, but my primary focus shifted to safely returning to the bivouac. I reached with some tears and injuries of my own too. The whole experience was a reminder of how unpredictable and risky the sport can be.”

    Bort and Buhler finished 13th and 19th, respectively.

    Challenging Dakar Stage 1 for Harith Noah

    Harith Noah, who is competing with the Sherco squad, finished the stage in 22nd place. “After refuelling at kilometre 200, I started getting cramps all over my body and then a very bad headache. This has never happened to me before,” the Indian rider revealed.

    “Quitting really crossed my mind a couple of times. [I’m] trying to figure out what could have caused this and hoping it won’t happen again.

    Ashish Raorane out of Dakar 2024

    This year’s edition also saw Indian privateer Ashish Raorane return to Dakar after three years. Unfortunately, his run was cut short on the opening stage itself.

    Raorane crashed 169km into the stage and has broken his collar bone in two places. “It’s a hard pill to swallow when you’ve spent a few years preparing, to have all that hard work wiped off in seconds. But I guess that’s the nature of off-road sport,” he shared on his Instagram page.

    He’s currently headed back to India to undergo surgery for his injury.

    De Mevius wins Stage 1

    Overdrive Racing’s Guillaume De Mevius took a shock Stage 1 win, finishing over a minute ahead of Audi’s Carlos Sainz. Rally favourites Nasser Al-Attiyah and Sebastien Loeb, both lost quite a bit of time due to punctures and finished 22nd and 19th, respectively.

    Also see:

    ‘15 is a nice number’: Harith Noah’s Dakar 2024 goals

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