After finishing 13th and as the best newcomer last year, Ross Branch has today won his first stage on the Dakar. In the history of the bike category, he is the first winner from Africa since the last in the series from South African Alfie Cox in 2003 (who picked up 8 specials in total), whilst Franco-Malian Alain Duclos won in his hometown of Bamako in 2006, then again in 2014 in Argentina. The continent has enjoyed other victories more recently in the quad race with Brian Baragwanath in 2016. It is especially represented at the highest level in the car race by Giniel de Villiers, who won the rally in 2009 and picked up his 14th special stage victory in 2018.
Ross Branch has won his first stage on the Dakar after perfectly controlling the stage. The rider from Botswana finished 1’24 ahead of new general standings leader Sam Sunderland and 2’21 in front of Pablo Quintanilla.
The stage has taken a difficult turn for Laia Sanz with a fall on the first part of the special. As a result, she has lost 20 minutes. The young lady rider is digging deep and continuing along the route to Neom.
Ross Branch still leads the special after 264 km. However, the KTM rider is now under threat from Pablo Quintanilla, just one minute behind. Luciano Benavides completes the provisional top 3.