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Crash Dents Branch's Dakar Title Hopes

KABELO BORANABI
In tears: Ross Branch could not contain himself after the crash. PIC: RACING LIFE NEWS
Ross Branch had a disappointing start to the second half of the Dakar Rally as he dropped out of the top 10 in the overall standings. 

On Sunday, he lost 24 minutes after crashing just 31km from the starting point to finish stage seven placed at number 27 which saw him drop to 15th spot in the overall rankings. This saw his chances of winning the Dakar Rally title, dim.

The stage seven performance is a bitter pill to swallow for Branch after he had a good recovery on stage six held on Friday, finishing second on the day as he ended the first half of the 12-day race just a place out of the podium position. Branch was the second off the blocks on Sunday morning but crashed 31km later. Thankfully, he emerged unscathed from the crash but his bike had a puncture. The Yamaha rider lost around 24 minutes patching up his bike but despite a spirited comeback, he could only settle for 27th on the day.

The result is a big blow for Monster Energy Yamaha team after American, Andrew Short dropped out of the race on the third day. Both Branch and

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Short are Yamaha’s off-season reinforcements as the brand looks to land a Dakar title.

The duo came in with a lot of expectations after impressive displays in the past two Dakar editions. Before the yesterday’s stage, only 78 of the 101 participants who started the race remained. The 43rd Dakar Rally edition is proving to get tougher for both the man and the machine the further it goes. Branch and fellow competitors are left with just over 1900km until the finishing line.

Meanwhile another local biker, James Alexander is having a time of his life on the bike. The ‘Kalahari Madala’ is making his Dakar debut and said he is there for fun. The biker was outside the top 30 at press time yesterday.

His highest ever stage finish is 81st on stage five. Before the stage six, he was 79th on the overall rankings. Chilean rider, José Ignacio Cornejo Florimo sits at the top while Australian Toby Price is second and Sam Sunderland of Great Britain sits third.



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