HERO MOTOSPORTS TEAM RALLY COMPLETES ABU DHABI DESERT CHALLENGE WITH A TOP-5 RESULT
ROSS BRANCH FINISHES THE WEEK IN THE 5TH POSITION
Hero MotoSports Team Rally, the motorsport team of the world’s largest manufacturer of motorcycles and scooters - Hero MotoCorp, concluded their campaign at the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge 2023, earning a top-5 result.
Hero MotoSports rider Ross Branch followed up his impressive Dakar 2023 performance with a highly consistent performance all through the six days of the rally, finishing well within the top-10 spots in every stage. In the fifth and final stage, he crossed the finish line in the 4th fastest time, and earned the 5th place in the overall standings of the rally.
His fellow team mate, Sebastian Buhler had to withdraw from the race after Stage 1 of the rally due to an unfortunate technical mishap. Since then, Ross has been the sole Hero rider in the race, and he put up a strong fight to break into the top 5 positions, working his way up consistently. The Botswanan made two Stage podium finishes this week, battling an extremely fierce competition with the world’s top riders and factory teams.
The first 10 positions at ADDC were tightly contested by top Rally GP class riders, all of whom had an equal chance to find a place on the final podium. At the end of 5 stages and over 17 hours of saddle time, Ross Branch finished the race with just a 1-minute difference from Toby Price, the 2nd runner up of ADDC ‘23.
The last and 5th stage of the rally put the riders through yet another 206 kms of final battle, and another 165 kms in liaisons, moving the entire rally from Qasr Al Sarab to Abu Dhabi. The podium ceremony in the capital city of Abu Dhabi closed this edition of the challenge, which was also the second round of the World Rally-Raid Championship 2023.
Next on the calendar for Hero MotoSports is the Sonora Rally in Mexico, April 2023 – which will be the third round of the W2RC. The team will focus their time on training and testing, and to be in the best shape for their return to the Latin American terrain after a long gap.
“Like always, Abu Dhabi has been a tough and tiring race for all of us – with long stretches of 100% sand conditions, unending stretches of dunes every day, and the scorching sun right above you all the time.
While we really wished to finish on the podium, I’m happy with how far we’ve come. Two years back, JRod won a third place at ADDC with a 34-minute gap from the winner. Last year, he missed the podium by 6 minutes, and today, Ross missed his podium by just 1 minute. It just goes on to say how competitive Rally GP has become, but I’m also proud that with each race, our performance has grown by leaps and bounds.
It is a pity that Buhler – even though he was in great shape – had to exit the race due to a technical issue, and the new rule for Rally GP riders that disallows restarts. Ross did exceptionally well, showcasing a flawless performance till the very last, and we’re very positive about our next races.
I extend my thanks and regards to the Hero family, partners and fans across the world for their continued love and support.”
“It’s been a fantastic ride at Abu Dhabi 2023. I’m super happy with the result, even though I would have loved to be on the podium. We made a lot of good steps in the right direction this week with myself and the bike, and I’m really happy about that. We're up there for sure, the fight was really intense this week, and we managed to stay in the top consistently. A job well done by all the competitors – all of them pushed really hard, and it was great fun mixing up with them. I look forward to the next race in Mexico, and thank you all for your great support!”
Stage 5 - Rally GP Class
|1||Toby Price||Red Bull KTM Factory Team||2h 24m 45s|
|2||Ignacio Cornejo||Monster Energy Honda Team||+ 2m 23s|
|3||Skyler Howes||Husqvarna Factory Racing||+ 2m 29s|
|4||Ross Branch||Hero MotoSports Team Rally||+ 3m 01s|
OVERALL RANKINGS AFTER
Stage 5 - Rally GP Class
|1||Adrien Van Beveren||Monster Energy Honda Team||17h 13m 39s|
|2||Luciano Benavides||Husqvarna Factory Racing||+ 4m 18s|
|3||Toby Price||Red Bull KTM Factory Team||+ 5m 13s|
|4||Ignacio Cornejo||Monster Energy Honda Team||+ 5m 15s|
|5||Ross Branch||Hero MotoSports Team Rally||+ 6m 17s|