Botswana’s Ross Branch finishes second in Dakar Rally

ROSS Branch did Botswana proud when he finished the prestigious Dakar Rally in second place.

Branch, taking part for Hero Moto­sports, is no stranger to Namibia, frequently taking part in local events while making use of the Namib Desert to prepare for the gruelling Dakar.

Participants travelled over 8 000km to finish the 12 stages starting from 4 to 19 January.

Local motocross rider and Namibia’s first ever Dakar participant Ingo Waldschmidt on Saturday congratulated Branch on his achievement.

“Big, big congratulations to Ross Branch, it was absolutely amazing with the results and achievement, trying so hard for so many years and now finally it paid off, it’s crazy what he managed to do,” Waldschmidt told Top Revs.

Riding the Dakar on a motorcycle is a little bit different from taking part in a vehicle, as it is easier since you have a navigator next to you making it easier to find the right roads. On a bike, it is different since you have to do it all by yourself, he said.

“You have to navigate while doing high speeds and that takes a lot of practice.”

Some of the attributes that count in your favour as a bike participant is being able to navigate well while maintaining high speeds through various terrains and obstacles, he said.

With Hero behind him, Branch is fully sponsored and does not have to worry about getting to races or finance his sport, he just pitches up and takes part.

Hero also provided a fully equipped technical team to ensure his motorbike is well prepared for every stage.

Hero might be a new name for many in the motorbike industry, but the Indian manufactured brand has six plants across India.

“They focus more on the rural markets of the world like the Asian and South American markets,” said Wilhelm Rademeyer from Auas Motors, which sells and services the bikes in Namibia.

Their main focus ranges on the 50 to 200cc motorcycles, costing as little as N$20 000.

The fuel efficient bikes are ideal for small businesses and the delivery sector. There are records of up to 60km per litre, said Rademeyer.

However, the one that Branch was riding is not for sale to the public as it is specially made for the Dakar, Rademeyer added.

There is, however, speculation that Hero may bring out a 450cc rally edition, available to the public.

These rumours have been doing the rounds since 2022, when we got the Hero franchise for Namibia, said Rademeyer.

“It is now a wait and see approach,” he added.

The Hero has been described as the Land Cruiser of motorbikes due to its robustness and one purpose “to deliver”.

Rademeyer said many of the Hero owners hardly return to the dealer for services, as they are mostly serviced by the owners in rural areas, while returning owners are in need of spares.

Rademeyer said there are even some motorcycles that have gone 30 000km without an oil service. This fits in with Hero’s philosophy of mobility, he added.

Some of the models even come with a stop/start function to save fuel.

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