Hero MotoSports’ Ross Branch is now second overall; Joan Barreda Bort out due to mechanical issues.
The 2024 Dakar Rally has reached the halfway mark after the end of the gruelling 48 Hour Chrono stage. Indian rider Harith Noah made some big gains in this stage and has broken into the top 15 for the first time.
Unfortunately, the stage also marked the end of Hero MotoSports rider Joan Barreda Bort’s Dakar 2024 campaign, with the Spanish rider out due to mechanical issues. The Indian squad now only has one rider in the running – Ross Branch, who is currently second overall.
- Branch just 51 secs behind leader Brabec
- Noah P13 overall
- Loeb wins Stage 6, while Al-Attiyah drops down order
Harith Noah breaks into Dakar top 15
Stage 6 marked the debut of the new 48H chrono stage, which required competitors to cover over 600km across two days. They had until 4pm on the first day to cover as much ground as possible before stopping at the closest break zone. Competitors then set off at 7am next day to complete the rest of the stage.
It’s been a challenging first half of the Dakar Rally for Harith Noah, but he’s on course to record his best-ever Dakar finish. He set the 12th best time in Stage 6 to leapfrog to 13th place in the overall ranking.
Noah’s 20th place result in 2021 was the best-ever ranking achieved by an Indian at Dakar. Despite spending most of last year recovering from two major injuries, Noah recently told Autocar India that he was aiming for a top 15 finish this time around.
Branch, Hero MotoSports P2 overall
It was a stage of mixed fortunes for the two Hero MotoSports riders. Joan Barreda Bort encountered mechanical issues with his bike, 529km into the stage, and was unable to reach the finish line. This spells the end of his Dakar 2024 run since Rally GP competitors are not allowed to continue the rally if they don’t finish a stage.
But the Hero camp still has reasons to celebrate. Ross Branch successfully completed the stage in fifth place. Although he’s lost the overall lead to Honda’s Ricky Brabec, he’s only 51secs adrift in second place.
Sainz takes Dakar 2024 cars lead
Reigning Dakar champion Nasser Al-Attiyah tumbled down the order after his Prodrive Hunter racer came to a halt due to a broken steering arm. He had to wait for his team’s assistance truck to arrive in order to repair the damage. While he did eventually finish the stage, he’s dropped to 17th place overall.
Audi now hold the top two spots, with Carlos Sainz in the lead, around 20 mins ahead of his teammate Mattias Ekstrom. Nine-time World Rally Champion Sebastien Loeb set the fastest time in Stage 6, to move up to third place overall.