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Factory Teams Keen On Branch

KABELO BORANABI
Attracting Interest: Branch says he is in talks with unnamed factory teams PIC: PHATSIMO KAPENG
Local biker, Ross Branch says he is in talks with factory teams following an impressive display at the just-ended Dakar Rally.

Branch endured difficulties in his second appearance at the Dakar Rally to finish 23rd overall, 13 places lower than his targeted top 10 spot.

In his debut season at the 2019 event, Branch finished 13th overall and walked away with the best rookie award.

This time around, with the Dakar held in Saudi Arabia for the first time, the 33-year-old biker managed to get his first stage win on day two.

However, he had a crash and finished the third stage with a flat tyre while damaging his shoulder.

Despite trying to stage a comeback, Branch could only settle for a spot outside the top 20.

Speaking to journalists at the Sir Seretse Khama International Airport on his arrival Sunday morning, Branch revealed he has had preliminary talks with a number of teams at the competition, but nothing has materialised.

“I have actually spoken with a couple of team managers who have said they will get to me in a week or two.

But we just have to keep on doing what I am doing.

I think I am making steps in the right direction from last year to this year.

The speeds has increased, I also got some good results with a stage win, it is something very special because it is not many people in the world that have done that in the entire Dakar Rally, so for me that means a lot,” he said.

“As long as you move in the right direction it is a positive thing whether something comes up or not I am not going to give up, I will keep on trying.

I

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cannot say names (of the teams) at the moment, there are couple of teams that have said something but until we get anything in writing I would not give out names.”

Joining a factory team would mean Branch turns professional. Recapping on his second appearance at the Dakar Rally, Branch said the death of Portuguese biker, Paulo Gonçalves took a psychological toll on the competitors, but said these are risks that come up with the world’s most gruelling off-road race.

Gonçalves died on the spot after a crash in stage seven of the race and organisers cancelled the eighth stage in honour of the fallen veteran.

“It was a very tragic day; it shows that we do risk our lives in this sport.

The guy that passed away was a good friend of mine. We all sign up for the same thing, and we know the risk,” said Branch.

“It is very sad that we have lost him; he was doing what he loved.

We tried to put that behind and carry on.

We know he would want us to keep riding and not be sad, I actually spoke to him on the morning before the accident and he said ‘Ross what you do never give up and just keep on going’.

That meant a lot to me and we will keep him in out hearts, he is a legend and I will always respect him,” he said.

Branch intends to make a third consecutive appearance at next year’s race.

He became the second Motswana at the competition after Vincent Crosbie who competed at he 2017 edition.



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