Dakar 2024

Honda's Brabec did not put a wheel wrong this year.

Dakar 2024

A Great, Stonking Big Adventure.

Branch and Cox shine! Throughout the Dakar rally, we posted vids and all sorts from the SA riders “In the trenches” so to speak on our facebook page.

Go and have a looksee – there’s stuff there that is not available anywhere else: 

Dirt And Trail

Keep an eye on our page because we have arranged an online chat with Dakar Hero Ross Branch and 5 time Original by Motul man Stuart Gregory. Next week.

The tables have turned as less traditional brands battle for Dakar supremacy…

At the beginning of every year, South Africans are glued to the internet, TV and mobile devices, keeping a close eye on developments at the annual Dakar Rally.

SA – Southern Africa has always had a great contingent of competitors and this year was no exception. Ross Branch represented Botswana. Bradley Cox, Charan Moore, Stuart Gregory, Kerim FitzGerald, Michael Docherty and Ronald Venter all flew the SA flag. Ashley Thixton  kept the Zimbabwe crowd shouting at the TV. And each of these guys have much to be proud of. Dakar rally 2024.

The Kalahari Ferrari in full cry...

The Kalahari Ferrari, Branch was the only Hero Moto rider to last the distance and as such, man alone against the might of Honda.

South Africa’s Bradley Cox ended third overall in the Rally 2 class. This is a man to watch.

Of the other Southern Africans, Charan Moore ended 21st overall, and ninth in Rally 2. Ash Thixton ended 30th on the day to clinch 32nd overall, and 19th in R2. Both of them rode Husqvarnas. KTM man Ronald Venter was 61st on the day and 59th overall, and Malle Moto man Stuart Gregory 64th on Friday and 60th overall. They rode home 48th and 49th respectively in Rally 2.

One of the toughest Dakars on record, the 2024 race was great for Southern African men and machines, with South African Cross Country champions Ross Branch second overall and Bradley Cox third in Rally 2.

Brad Cox, 3rd overall in rally 2 class.

Naturally, our focus is on the bikes but there are so many SA built cars and people racing that we can all be very proud…

By now, you know, or should know anyway that the Dakar motorcycle Podium this year belonged to red bikes. Yup. Two Honda’s and a Hero to be precise. Historic?

Absolutely, because, well for the last 10 years or so, there has ALWAYS been an orange bike in the top three mix.

For the second time in four years, Monster Energy Honda racer Ricky Brabec was a class act as he duked it out with our – (and yes we do say our…) Hero mounted Ross Branch. Man it was an epic slugfest, with just a few seconds separating the two at the halfway mark. Much like the Stillknocks fight it really could have gone either way… but the cards just seemed to fall Brabecs way – and he stormed over the finish line 11 minutes ahead of The Kalahari Ferrari. With his win, Brabec has now won in Saudi Arabia twice, and remains the only American to ever win a Dakar Rally.

Brabec and Branch were absolutely on top of the game with Ross leading for the first week of the rally and Brabec taking over in the second week.

Some of the fastest riders on the planet.

Here’s a quick-ish day by day breakdown on the top riders: Prologue

The 2024 Dakar Rally got underway with a fairly short Prologue Stage and it was Monster Energy Honda’s  Tosha Schareina who took a debut Dakar success in his third Dakar Rally.

The Spaniard got in 12 seconds clear of the next racer, GasGas factory racing man Australian Daniel Sanders, Ross Branch came in in third, seven seconds behind Sanders.

Tosha Schareina

Stage 1 

Mason Klein chose to open the stage and spent four hours alone out front creating the path for others to follow. Our Bradley Cox (KTM) took a career-best fourth on the stage, 12m54s behind Branch. The Prologue stage winner, Schareina crashed out at the 240kay mark. He was not the only one to go, Joaquim Rodrigues crashed his Hero at the 82kay marker. Branch kept it together to take the Stage 1 win, his fourth career Dakar triumph. He came home 10m54s clear of Brabec with Kove’s Klein in third, 11m19s behind Branch. 

Kove
Mason Klein

Stage 2: The sands shift.

The huge 446km test on the road to Al Duwadimi, saw Mason Klein suffer. His bike broke down at the 46km mark. Klein spent two hours repairing on the side of the road and rejoined the race but he lost a lot of places…

The stage was won by Honda’s Jose Ignacio Cornejo Florimo, a seventh career Dakar stage victory for the Chilean. Cornejo came home 05m59s ahead of Husqvarna’s Luciano Benavides with Pablo Quintanilla (Honda) making it a South American top three in third. Brabec finished the stage in fifth, with Ross in 11th…

Stage 3: 600 kilometers between  Al Duwadimi and Al Salamiya.

The rally was over for two-time Dakar champion Sam Sunderland (GasGas), with his fifth consecutive DNF. Joining Sunderland on that list was Hero’s Sebastien Buhler, who crashed out at the 360 km mark and needed to be airlifted to hospital.

We watched the 2022 champ, KTM’s Kevin Benavides take the third stage. This was after Chilean Pablo Quintanilla was docked six minutes for repeated speeding infractions in control zones dropping him to seventh for the stage. Brabec got a second, ensuring that he stayed in the top three overall in third. Rounding out the top three for Stage 3 was another of the factory Hondas in Adrien Van Beveren with his teammate Skyler Howes taking fourth.

Ross Branch took fifth, continuing to lead overall, despite receiving a one minute penalty. 

Kevin Benavides

Stage 4: 299km with 700km between bivouacs…

Branch’s three minute lead heading into Stage 4 was shattered by two crashes, thankfully without injury to himself or his machine. Honda’s Cornejo became the first two-time stage winner at the 2024 event. The Chilean took his eighth career Dakar stage victory and found himself on top of the overall standings. Brabec continued his consistent run by taking second behind his teammate, with Benavides third. Branch came home in fourth, a little over five minutes behind Cornejo.

Nacho Cornejo

Stage 5: Branch back in front:

Quintanilla took to honours on the 118 km special from Al Salamiya to Al-Hofuf after a long 508 km road section that saw riders enter the Empty Quarter, a never-ending stretch of sand dunes. Quintanilla’s teammate, Frenchman Adrien Van Beveren took second place.Twice Dakar champion Toby Price (KTM) ended third on stage ahead of his countryman Daniel Sanders on the GasGas. Koves Mason Klein grabbed the fifth fastest time.

Ross Branch re-took the overall lead with the sixth fastest time. Ricky Brabec came in seventh securing third on the overall standings.

Dakar Rally 2024
Toby Price

Stage 6: “‘48 Hour Chrono’ stage, the biggest test of this year’s event”

“Nobody really knew the exact state of affairs as Dakar 2024’s innovative Chronos bike stage came to a close and riders stopped at one of seven secret bivouacs along the route on Thursday evening. Honda rider Adrien van Beveren’s Honda was however quickest to the furthest of the camps, while second placed teammate Ricky Brabec took command of the overall lead from Botswana Hero rider Ross Branch.”

The 48 Hour Chrono is a new format for Dakar. Riders had to stop at one of seven bivouacs dotted along the route by 4:00 pm. Then they camped, unassisted, just like in the army days.

On the day, the factory Honda team were the best sorted with dune specialist Adrien Van Beveren taking fastest over the first part of the 48 Hour Chrono. Stage 5 winner Pablo Quintanilla ran out of fuel 10km before the first refueling station, losing over 1h40m in the process with his hopes of overall victory vanishing. Brabec followed Van Beveren home on the first half of the stage, regaining the overall lead from the Kalahari Ferrari. The first half of the Chrono saw Skyler Howes knocked out of the race…

Van Beveren

Chrono part 2:

Hondas Van Beveren made it to bivouac F on the first day of the 48 hour stage which meant that he had only 112km of riding to bring home the stage win, his first of Dakar 2024 and his first as a factory Honda rider.

He did exactly that, getting the best of two-time Dakar champion Toby Price.

Ricky Brabec finished a touch over five minutes behind his teammate Van Beveren and put himself back into the overall lead. Branch came home fifth on the 48 Hour Chrono, read this: A mere 51s off Brabec’s pace. Van Beveren jumped to third overall.

Stage 7:

The seventh stage of the rally covered a monster 874 kilometers, with 483 KM’s of that counting towards the overall time.

Cornejo took the day ahead of Husqvarna’s Luciano Benavides. In third, Kevin Benavides (KTM) made it Benavides podium squared.

Things got tight! The overall rally lead fight between Hondas Brabec and Heros Branch. Saw Branch battling front brake issues. He still pulled  01m10s on Brabec by the stage’s end. The gap between the two in the overall standings was down to just one second! This after more than  32 hours of racing! Flippen nail biting stuff. 

Luciano Benavides - Husqvarna Factory Racing

Stage 8: Dunes and Rocks… The Benavides brothers did it again.

The first section of the day saw riders navigating deep sand and dunes. Then they hit the rocky terrain. Red Bull factory racings Kevin Benavides pipped his Husqvarna mounted brother by just  31 seconds. Honda’s Adrien Van Beveren took another stage podium in third. Brabec rode smart and  led much of the stage. He settled down in the afternoon to take seventh. Branch finished one place behind Brabec in eighth, just 42 seconds behind the American in the overall rankings.

Sadly, Spains Carles Falcon crashed on the second stage at the 448km mark and was airlifted to hospital in Al Duwadimi. He was then repatriated to Spain where he succumbed to his injuries in hospital.

Carles Falcon

Stage 9: Van Beveren shines. Branch suffers navigation setback.

Adrien Van Beveren rode a perfect 436km stage back to AlUla, 32s ahead of teammate Brabec. Quintanilla made it three factory Hondas in the top three, finishing 4m19s off teammate Van Beveren in third. KTM’s Toby Price took fourth with Branch in fifth.

Ross:  “Today, I lost a lot of time, but it was tough for me, I couldn’t get going, I couldn’t find a flow. I made a couple of stupid mistakes, but that’s the first bad day of the rally for me, so we’ll take it. At least I’m not opening tomorrow, so maybe we can push again tomorrow. We’ll see how it goes. You have those bad days. I tried to manage it and tried to lose the least time possible and we’ll have to see tonight if anything changes. The pressure is kicking in now for everybody. It’s crunch time and I would have liked to have been up there a little bit closer today, but that’s racing. You can’t have a perfect day every day. You make some mistakes and you just have to try and manage it. I’ve just been trying to keep a cool head for the rest of the afternoon. I had a few moments, so I’m just happy to tick another day off on the Dakar and let’s focus on tomorrow.”

Watch the tower. Open wide... Charan Moore

Stage 10: Smart racing, Brabec gets the top step of an all Honda podium..

Brabec followed his Honda teammate Adrien Van Beveren for most of the 371 km  stage.  He eventually won the day by just two seconds from teammate ‘Nacho’ Cornejo. Van Beveren in third ensured a clean sweep for Honda. Branch was now almost eleven minutes off the leaders pace… but he was not quite done yet…

Brabec: “The day was good although the navigation wasn’t easy,” Brabec said. “In the first 50 km I was riding into the sun so that was difficult and then once I’d caught Adrien we rode together the whole way. We made some little mistakes here and there, but we came out in a good position for tomorrow and the last day. With two days left we have a little bit of a lead so let’s see what happens tomorrow.”

Stage 11: Branch takes the podium.

Branch took the 420 KM stage win just 32 seconds ahead of Brabec and did everything he could to close the gap in the overall Dakar rankings, winning the stage and gaining 32 seconds. Van Beveren consolidated his third-place overall ranking with his third-place finish, 14m31s behind Brabec and just over three minutes behind Branch.

Husqvarna’s Luciano Benevides finished fourth and KTM’s Toby Price rounded off the top five.

Final Stage: 12. Brabec takes his second overall win. Branch takes a historic second.

Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Kevin Benavides took the stage win, holding off his team mate, Toby Price. Luciano Benavides, once again made it two Benavides on the podium. 

After 9 years of trying, Adrien Van Beveren made it two factory Hondas in the top three overall. KTM’s Kevin Benavides and Toby Price round out the top five overall.

Brabec finished the day in 7th, 10m53s ahead of Branch in the overall standings. 

But – and have a look at this: Branch is the first African to stand on the Dakar podium since Alfie Cox took third in 2005. He gives Hero, an Indian manufacturer their very first podium. 

Brabec: “This time was a lot tougher. In 2020, we had a big gap from the get-go. Here, I think me and Ross spent three days with a couple of seconds difference. It was a tight race for all of us. I think between first and third there are eleven minutes or something, whatever Adrien got, but it’s been a tight race and ten minutes is not a big gap here on the rally. It’s been tight. I had two good days, two opportunities to make a good push, but also stage 11 was a scare factor for me because I knew Ross was starting behind me, 18 minutes behind, and if he caught me it would be over. Stage 11 was hard for me, but I stayed focused, got to the finishing line and didn’t lose too much time, so I’m really happy with this and I’m really happy for the team. I’m happy for all of us, we did an excellent job all of the two weeks. I think number 9 will be my lucky number from now on.”

Branch: “I feel on top of the world,” Branch said. “It was a really long rally, probably one of the toughest ones I’ve ever done. Hats off to Ricky, he rode an outstanding race. It was really close up until a couple of days ago when he made a big push and got a gap on me a little bit. It was awesome. It’s so good to race these guys, good to be up here. I’m so happy for the team, they deserve to be happy because they’ve put a lot of work in and for such a young team, it’s a great result. I’m super happy to be up here. It’s been their goal to succeed since the team started and they’ve been working so hard to get that. I’m the lucky one. I get to go out there and ride my bike and have some fun. They have to do all the hard work back at home with all the development of the bike and everything. I’m just really happy and proud of them. I’m super happy for them as a team and as a country to be here. I definitely need to improve in the camel grass. I felt that we lost out a lot on those two days, but I’ve just got to go home and work on myself, it’s just me. Ricky was good every single day. He didn’t put a foot wrong during the whole rally. He deserves the win. He outrode me and was better than me this year, but I’ve got another eleven months to train harder and work better to come back stronger next year”.

Southern African Goodness.

Charan Moore:

“3 for 3 and the hardest one yet. Loved every second and every challenge along the way. Dakar is character building and life changing!

Beyond grateful for the opportunity to do this and the support from everyone to get it done!

5 time Original By Motul Man Stuart Gregory with his buddy Kyle McCoy

Stuart Gregory:

This wasn’t a race – for me it was survival. Brutal, Survival, tough… my toughest to date by far. maybe even as tough as all the others combined…

Dougie Does Dakar: Ronald Venter

Ronald Venter:

We definitely didn’t come here for a haircut! It’s like riding a national, a Baberspan, a Mafikeng, a Sun City, a Carousel, a Mbabatho, a Lesotho – in the old Offroad days, every single day, but you’ve got to get there on your bike – and leave on your bike….

Ashley Thixton, Zimbabwe:

A lot went into this. Being at Dakar really is a dream come true. It’s insane! Something that means a lot and is not easy to get. No-one can ever take this away from me.

 

Bradley Cox:
Dakar 2024 done and dusted.
13th Overall
3rd Rally2
Man the last 2 weeks have been tough but I’m happy to have bounced back this second week.
4x Top 10 overall stage finishes
3x Rally2 stage wins
First off a massive thank you to @basworldktmracingteam and @leonvanbakel for the effort the past 2 weeks ! As always they bought 110% effort to the table and they had my back through it all
Then to my family, girlfriend, loved ones and friends back home who support me and picked me up when the chips are down ! Thank you. The sacrifices that get made for this race are huge and my support system around me is incredible.
To all my sponsors that help me live this dream thank you ! You helped me get onto the biggest platform in the world and to be able to put some solid results on the board is amazing and it’s all thanks to you guys investing in me !
Lastly to everyone that followed my journey , sent a message , shared a story and reached out to me THANK YOU ! Nkosi sikelel’ iAfrika 🇿🇦
Now time to rest 😴
Jane Daniels finished the 2024 Dakar in an extraordinary 48th place – in doing so was the top British rider and only woman finisher!

Other stuff: by Motorsport Media and others…

GDV BREAKS THE RECORD for most consecutive Dakar rally finishes.

After finishing the 2024 Dakar rally Giniel de Villiers has now surpassed the record for most consecutive Dakar rally finishes (21), previously held by Yoshimasa Sugawara. 

The 51-year-old South African, who helped Volkswagen win its first Dakar in 2009, has only once finished outside the Top 10, managed 15 Top 5 positions and 7 podiums.

Known as the toughest race in the world, The Dakar always poses challenges, and although Giniel had his fair share of ups and downs in 2024 he brought his Toyota Gazoo Racing South Africa Hilux home in 7th place overall.

Toyota, as a manufacturer, also has every reason to be proud. Not only did they claim 2nd overall with Guillaume De Mevius and Xavier Panseri, but they also hold 6 of the Top 10 positions, while Guy Botterill, 6th overall, won the Rookie driver award in yet another Toyota Hilux.

Giniel De Villiers of Toyota Gazoo Racing.

Spaniards Carlos Sainz and Lucas Cruz quite literally cruised home to clinch El Matador’s fourth Dakar win at Yanbu in Saudi Arabia on Friday. It was a major petrol-electric coup for Audi. Sainz may not have won a stage through the 5,000km two-week epic dash across the Arabian Desert. But his alternate energy Audi was also the only top entry not to hit major trouble in the two weeks.

Rookie winners, Guy Botterill and Brett Cummings were the best of the South African crews in their Gazoo Hilux in sixth from teammates Giniel de Villiers and Dennis Murphy. It was de Villiers’ 21st Dakar finish in 21 starts, and his 20th top ten finish.

Seven of the top ten cars home were made in South Africa.

Guy Botterill And Brett Cummings

Of other South African interest, Saood Variawa and Frenchman Francois Cazaletare made it a Toyota Gazoo Hilux rookie 1-2 in a provisional 18th, while young Aliyyah Koloc and Sebastien Delaunay came home 27th overall in their SA-built, Red-Lined REVO+ T1+, with Belgian rookie gentlemen teammates Stefan Carmans and Antonius van Tiel 34th.

 

At just 18, Saood Variawa embarked on his inaugural Dakar adventure, navigating the challenges with remarkable poise alongside co-driver Francois Cazalet.

Provisionally 38th overall, fast Johannesburg duo Brian Baragwanath and Leonard Cremer were second in a stage. But they struggled on other days and on their first outing in the all-new 4×4 Century CT7t.

Baragwanath and Cremer.

SA Ford Ranger crews, Spanish duo Nani Roma and Alex Haro Bravo, and South African rookies Gareth Woolridge and Boyd Dreyer both finished 44th and 46th in a troubled but encouraging debut for the Pietermaritzburg built NWR cars.

Never mind seven South African cars in the top ten, a rookie 1-2 for Botterill and Variawa. With Dakar done and dusted, the Rally Raid entries now continue their fight for the 2024 the World Championship in a series of races across the globe.

Manuel Andújar

Quads: 

Argentine racer Manuel Andújar won the 2024 Dakar Rally in the quads class . The Yamaha rider finished the last stage in second place, but it was enough to maintain his advantage over French rider Alexandre Giroud. It’s the Argentine’s second Dakar crown, after winning the title in 2021.

Side By Sides: Polaris breaks Can-Am’s Run:

Xavier De Soultrait and his co-pilot Martin Bonnet won the side by side class. It was a close thing for the two Frenchman in their Polaris. For this Dakar, the American factory went one step further, developing a lighter, sharper, higher-performance RZR PRO R.

Imagine this thing overtaking you...

Iveco Wins The Truck category:

Martin Macík has won the Dakar in the truck category behind the wheel of his Iveco. He, Frantisek Tomasek & David Svanda won by an enormous +1hr 54’39” margin!

 

Parting Shot: What happened to multiple Dakar winner Al Attiyah?

After three victories  in an SA built Toyota, he opted to  race a Prodrive hunter looking for three in a row and he won stage 5.

His hopes of retaining his Dakar crown was dashed by damage from a heavy landing on stage six during Cjrono . He then retired on stage eight with an engine problem and came back the next day using a ‘joker’.

But when his rear left suspension arm had decided it had had enough only a few miles into Tuesday’s stage nine, the driver had also had enough and in a surprising move, he bowed out of Dakar ’24. That’s racing for you!

That was Dakar 2024. unrelenting, tough and incredibly entertaining. Until Next Year…

Leave a Comment

Scroll to Top