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Branch 21st ahead of final stage

KABELO BORANABI
Coming to an end: Branch's sojourn in Saudi Arabia ends today
Local biker, Ross Branch has finished just outside the top 10 in 11th position following the conclusion of stage 11 of the 2020 Dakar Rally, yesterday in Saudi Arabia.

Branch, who is having a rather mixed campaign in his second appearance at the world’s biggest race, is now 21st overall.

Chilean Pablo Quintanilla won the stage, with Matthias Walkner of Hungary and Argentine, Luciano Benavides finishing second and third respectively.

Rookie, Jamie Mccanney of the Great Britain squeezed in to the top 10 with a sixth place finish.

In his debut season, last year the ‘Kalahari Ferrari’ put on a superhuman display finishing 13th overall while winning the best rookie accolade.

He was off to a bright start at the race, winning the stage two, which saw him placed third overall. Branch had a rather stroke of bad luck in the third stage of the competition as he had to finish the last 117km of the stage with a flat tyre.

He settled for a 47th stage position while he dropped to 21th overall. Branch staged a brave fight back in stage four finishing seventh while elevated to 14 overall.

However, things went from bad to worse on

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stage five, as the Johannesburg-born rider finished 91st on the day before a 16th stage finish on day seven left him at 16th overall. Branch faces a tough 374km in the last stage. Pundits predict that the stage will require ultimate composure from the riders.

It is predicted that the last 100km of the stage will give the competitors navigation headaches, something that a commercial pilot, Branch can take advantage of.

The last 20km however is a special section and will have no impact on the general standings of the competition.  With Branch in the hustle for at least a top 20 finish, the fight at the top is very tight. It is a duel amongst Quintanilla, Walkner, American Ricky Brabec and defending champion Toby Price.

There is a fierce battle for the quartet as they all have a clear chance to lay hands on the coveted prize. The final stage of the competition is expected to finish just after noon local time.



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