Riding with his mom
WINNER: Ross Branch

Branch gets inspiration from late mother for historic Dakar Rally win

Ross Branch says finishing 12th and being crowned the fastest Rookie at the just ended Dakar Rally is a dream come true.

“I’ve always wanted to compete at an international event,” he said.

“Getting an award was a bonus for me,” said the biker.

Speaking to Voice Sport on Wednesday, Branch who received a hero’s welcome from KTM South Africa at the Oliver Tambo International Airport said he had the time of his life in Peru.

The 32 year old rough rider told Voice Sports that his historic achievement was however not without challenges.

He said he encountered engine problems early in the race with the bike’s sixth gear disengaging.

“We got the navigation wrong in the first three days, and totally lost the route,” he said.

All these challenges didn’t dampen the Jwaneng Motor Cycle Sport Club member in any way.

“A lot was going through my mind during the competition. I did not want to disappoint my fans and Botswana, so I had to remain focused,” he said.

He said he was confident of at least finishing the race as he had prepared for the onslaught since the beginning of 2018.

“I lost my mother a couple of years ago and one of her favorite sightings was a rainbow, and just before I started the race I saw the rainbow and that motivated me,” Branch said.

“It was the toughest race of my career, but I got stronger every day. Hopefully in the coming years I will win the race depending on the availability of funds to help in my preparations,” Branch said with serious conviction.

Despite this amazing feat, the ever humble Branch said his achievement would not have been possible without the financial support he got from Batswana and some companies.

He said this was an eye opener and he will start planning for the next race soon.

“In 2020 I’ll be more prepared and will go there to try and win some stages not just to finish in the top 20,” he added.

He further said he learnt that on the first day he was not supposed to go all out as the race has enough time for competitors to make a few changes to their bikes.

“Even the navigation is completely different from what we are used to locally, and now I know what to look forward to. Now I have to go back to the drawing board and may be spend more time in Khawa in the dunes. There is a lot I have to do and next year I will be more than ready,” he said.

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