Ross Branch - Dakar 2019

Mark800XC

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Ross Branch: Signing up for the Dakar – the toughest race in the world
By Ross Branch - Apr 10, 2018

The dream started way back in 1992, when the Dakar Rally was still a race from Paris to Cape Town. My dad and I trekked all the way to Namibia to watch the guys compete, and I decided that one day, I was going to be one of them.



Going to the Dakar – billed as the toughest race in the world – is a test of a rider in almost all facets of this sport.
Your mindset, speed, endurance, concentration, mechanics and race strategies – it takes everything you’ve got. And not just for a day, but for two whole weeks.


Only half the participants that entered the Dakar in 2018 actually crossed the finish line. So what makes me think that I can be one of them?

Well, I had to answer that question with confidence before I signed up for a challenge like this – especially since I’m not just racing to join the list of finishers, but racing to set myself apart.



I feel like I’m at the age where I can go to the Dakar with the right amount of focus, maturity and experience to give it my very best shot.
Looking back, there’s been a series of building blocks that have lead me to this point – one of them definitely being my solid background in motocross.

Started racing MX at the age of four, and quickly realised that there’s no losing focus in this sport. Break your concentration for just a split second, and you’ll crash.

It’s all about placing an intense focus on the job at hand – and that’s what it takes to get through some of the stages at Dakar!

Winning back-to-back National Cross Country Championships over the past two years has also put me in a good position for Dakar.


I set myself a goal a while back – I could only start working towards the Dakar once I’d won a South African National Championship.
It takes a mature rider to win a championship, because you can’t be fast one second and then crash out the next. It’s a fine balance to get it right, especially once fatigue starts to set in.

Racing off-roads has taught me how to manage that so I can push the pace and keep my wits about me at the same time.

Something not everyone knows about me is that I’m a commercial pilot.
Dakar is all about navigation. So the cap headings I’d use to navigate in the race is the same thing we would use to navigate in an aircraft. It’s going to be really cool to see how the two work hand in hand.

The other good thing about being a pilot is that you have to focus really hard on so many things at once. That will help when I’m racing and trying to navigate, manage my pace and avoid dangers all at once.

These things set a solid foundation, but the work that I still have to put into the year ahead is insane!

I worked it out, and every weekend from here is fully booked – there are MX races, fundraising events, Botswana races, dune and high altitude training, cross country races, and road book training to do. I also have a two week block coming up where I’ll spend 8 hours on the bike each day.

The biggest challenge right now is the financial costs involved in doing an event of this magnitude.



I’m so excited for all that’s ahead, and really nervous at the same time. There are so many people rooting for me who want to see Southern Africa on the map again, and that really drives me!



Ross Branch

Ross Branch (born 6 May 1986) is a household name in the Southern African world of motorsport. Motocross was the start of his successful career with his first race at the young age of 5. This was where he began to develop the style and talent seen in his racing today and also where his dream began - to travel the world, which he does as a successful commercial pilot. But also to represent his country and sponsors, with a passion for and commitment to motorsports. From racing the premier MX1 class in Motocross, which he still competes in today, Ross ventured off into Cross Country racing and is enjoying long distance endurance events, especially the desert type races in Botswana as well as South Africa. It comes as no surprise that he has won six Botswana 1000 Desert Races, mastering the desert like no other, and earning himself the nickname ‘Kalahari Ferrari’. He proudly holds the number one plate in the South African Cross Country Championship with two consecutive OR1 and overall Cross Country championship titles in 2016 and 2017. Proving he is the fastest Cross Country rider that Southern Africa has to offer, Ross has his eyes set on the ultimate race that every offroad rider aspires to conquer one day: the DAKAR RALLY, mother of all rallies and said to be the toughest motorcycle race on the planet.
 

BULL

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One of the nicest guys in the racing fraternity.
 

Naughty Ian

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That is good for SA riders, we will have Kenny Gilbert on a Husky and Ross on presumably a KTM. Does anybody know of any more South africans riding?
 

RyanI

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Brilliant news!! I wish him all the best and I know he will be very very fast
 

Cheezy

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Thanks for posting. Will be great following some well known local riders. Is Kenny also doing the next Dakar?
 

Tman21

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What about Kirsten? She is also doing Dakar but I would only assume if there is no hype yet it will be in 2020?
 

Ten Bar

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That is good for SA riders, we will have Kenny Gilbert on a Husky and Ross on presumably a KTM. Does anybody know of any more South africans riding?
Stuart Gregory is also attempting, not sure who he is but I saw something about this on another forum. Ross is the type of guy who could run top 5
 

Hein Van

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Wow - what a good read.
To have King Kenny and Kalahari Ferrari there to represent SA and Bots, both as multiple National SA champions will be amazing and really something to look forward too

The money part is obviously insane, and I trust we will all support their fund raisers as they happen during the year.

You go GUYS
 
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