Hero’s Ross Branch Emerges Victorious in Stage 1 of Dakar 2024

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Hero MotoSports, the Indian team, has made a strong start to the 2024 Dakar Rally, with Ross Branch claiming victory in Stage 1 and securing the overall lead.

The opening stage proved to be challenging, leading to difficulties for several top riders and drivers. Unfortunately, Hero MotoSports’ Joaquim Rodrigues and Indian rider Ashish Raorane are both out of the Dakar 2024 after separate crashes.

Rodrigues experienced a crash 82km into the stage, temporarily losing consciousness. Teammates Joan Barreda Bort and Sebastian Buhler reached the scene promptly, providing assistance until Rodrigues was taken to AlUla Hospital. While his Dakar 2024 journey concludes, Rodrigues sustained only a broken thumb.

In contrast, Ross Branch set the fastest time in Stage 1, securing his fourth career Dakar stage win. He finished over 10 minutes ahead of Honda rider Ricky Brabec in second place. Prologue winner Tosha Schareina also exited the competition this year after fracturing his arm.

Branch commented on the challenging stage, expressing the unpredictability and risks of the sport. Bort and Buhler finished 13th and 19th, respectively.

For Harith Noah of the Sherco squad, the stage proved challenging as he finished in 22nd place. Noah experienced cramps and a severe headache after refueling at kilometer 200.

Indian privateer Ashish Raorane, returning to Dakar after three years, faced an unfortunate end to his run. Raorane crashed 169km into the stage, breaking his collarbone in two places. He is heading back to India for surgery.

In the car category, Guillaume De Mevius of Overdrive Racing claimed an unexpected Stage 1 win, finishing over a minute ahead of Audi’s Carlos Sainz. Notably, rally favorites Nasser Al-Attiyah and Sebastien Loeb lost time due to punctures, finishing 22nd and 19th, respectively.

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