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Branch P200,000 short ahead of Dakar Rally

KABELO BORANABI
Branch is preparing to make his Dakar Rally debut
Local motor biker, Ross Branch says he is struggling to raise funds that will enable him to participate at next year’s Dakar Rally. With just less than a month left before the prestigious competition, Branch says he is short of P200, 000 of the P1.4 million needed to participate.

Branch told Mmegi Sport this week that he has to rely on donations from the public and private companies alike after failing to secure funding from the Botswana National Sport Commission (BNSC).

“Fundraising is the hardest part of going to compete in the race. You need a really big budget to compete in this event, as all the expenses are euros so the exchange rate plays a big role in the overall cost of the race,” he said. “Unfortunately, BNSC could not help me with this. There has been so much support from local companies. It has really been amazing. So many people have come together to help me reach my target. We are P200,000 short, but we are trying really hard to raise that before I leave.”   The 32-year-old, however, said the financial struggles have not deterred his preparations for the endurance race.  He said he has been having a good workout locally, in Namibia and South Africa but said the Dakar Rally will be the biggest challenge of his colourful career.

“Dakar 2019 is just around the corner and I am ready for it. I have been training for the whole year and have been to lots of different places to ride such as the Drakensberg mountains for the mountain training and to Namibia for the sand and then my hometown, Jwaneng, for the long distance rides. This is definitely the longest race of my career, but we are ready for it and we are going to give it the best we can,” he said.

The man nicknamed the ‘Kalahari Ferrari’ has seven Desert Race titles under his belt. He did not reveal his target as he said he would be eyeing to

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complete the demanding 5, 000km terrain. “I’m in my prime now and I have worked so hard to get to this point I have seven Desert Race wins, so I think this is the best time for me to go and see how well I can do.

“I would like to get a good result, but I will take it day by day in the race and see how well I can do. The support I have had from the start has been amazing. It is so nice to see how many people believe in me and want me to succeed in Dakar. I am going there confident as I have the whole country supporting me and I hope to make them proud,” he said.

Branch will leave for Peru on December 26 and the rider will start on 114th position out of 149 registered for the race.

Branch is one of the three Africans who will take part in the race. For the first time, the race will be held within Peru rather than before when the riders went through Argentina and Bolivia. The race will start on January 6 and end on the 17th.

Meanwhile, Vincent Crosbie has once again pulled out of the competition. After being the first local biker to compete at Dakar in 2017, the 28-year-old has been struggling with injuries. In his maiden appearance in the race he finished in 36th overall, and was the sixth rookie to finish the race. The Serowe-native was an instant national hero as he carried the national flag over the finish line. He was awarded the 2017 BNSC Chairperson award for his heroics.



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