2024 Dakar Rally stage one results where Ross Branch claims the provisional day win for Hero Motorsports ahead of Honda’s Ricky Brabec and storming Mason Klein on the Kove as “rocks, “rocks and more rocks” make for a “brutal” start to the 46th edition in Saudi Arabia.


2024 Dakar Rally Stage 1 in a nutshell:

  • The rider briefing last night warned everyone today’s opening stage would be a hard one. After a flowing start the second half, after refuelling, proved “brutal” with long sections of rocks, some of it ancient volcanic stones, which left many a pale face as helmets came off at the finish.
  • Here’s what some of the riders had to say: “Almost impossible to ride”, said World Rally-Raid Champion Luciano Benavides and adding it was, “more like enduro or trial…I hope they don’t do this tomorrow.”
  • “It was rock and roll out there,” agreed Daniel Sanders, “it feels like we did five days already”. “Some of the worst riding I’ve done in my life,” adds his GASGAS teammate Sam Sunderland.
  • You get the picture these guys weren’t happy with the 46th Dakar day one? They were warned and no-one said it would be easy…


  • A refreshingly different leaderboard emerged then as riders struggled with the terrain and it made fascinating viewing across the 414 kilometre and five hours of racing (for the top guys at least). New faces, young and experienced riders, all manufacturers present, and a rash of Rally2 (non-factory riders) fighting for position.
  • Not for the first time, sadly, some of the leading riders crashed out of the opening stage. Tosha Schareina claimed the prologue win yesterday on the Monster Energy Honda and was looking good today right up until kilometre 240 where he crashed, breaking his wrist.
  • Joining the Spaniard with a trip in the medi heli was Joaquim Rodrigues, going out after crashing his Hero and Michael Docherty also, who had been leading Rally2 class in fact when he also crashed at 323km.
  • Every rider knows the Dakar can bite, and the race direction warned it would not be an easy first week here, so it was no surprise to see some of the factory riders making sure they made a less than interstellar start. There’s a long way to go and I’m glad to get through that one was a mantra from almost all the interviews post stage.
  • Hero Motorsports’ Ross Branch was riding close to Scahreina and stopped to help until medics arrived in the helicopter – Branch lost around 25-minutes but was awarded his time back on sporting grounds.
  • It mattered because Branch has been the rider to watch and as he arrived late, all eyes were on the timing screens to check if the Botswanan had claimed a stage win. He had, finishing 16 minutes down on the leaders which, on corrected time, put Branch clear as the stage winner.
  • Three Team HRC rider clocked in together this afternoon, having sampled the rocks section together. Ricky Brabec, Nacho Cornejo and Skyler Howes rode in tandem but with the top 10 starting in three-minute intervals, that meant 10th and 11th placed starters Cornejo and Brabec had closed over 25 minutes to catch Howes on corrected time – good for Brabec and Nacho but not so good for last year’s podium finisher, Howes who sits 22nd overall.
  • Brabec clocked in second overall, albeit 11 minutes adrift of Branch. A trademark opening day from the American you could say, the former champ doing the hard work in the morning to close down the leaders and then was able to keep it safe-ish through the hard stuff.
  • As first rider away this morning, Mason Klein opened the way for everyone over the 414km special. It was a confident start and he ran an impressive gap to the next riders all day too. Klein crossed the line first to finish third scratch and earned over six minutes in time bonuses in the process, plus delivered Kove their maiden stage podium. Chinese bikes are no good did someone say?
  • The Rally2 class was won by South African Bradley Cox who impressively claims fourth on the stage and was among the very best overall in the “brutal” rocky second half – toughing it out when the going got tough not unlike his dad Alfie, hey?
  • Cornejo was fifth for Honda ahead Rally2, P2 finisher Romain Dumontier, Lorenzo Sanolino gave Sherco a good start with P7, ’23 winner Kevin Benavides was KTM’s first rider home in eighth, GASGAS’s Daniel Sanders ninth and privateer Czech rider Martin Michek completes the top 10.
  • There follows a rash of RallyGP riders – Quintanilla, Van Beveren, Sunderland, L Benavides, Toby Price – some raising eyebrows after the tough opening day to finish around 20-or so minutes down on the leader. It sounds a lot but if this stage sets the tone for the race as David Castera promises, that gap should be nothing to worry about.
  • Toby Price fans will note the ’23 runner-up and two-times winner had his gear lever fall off 70km or so before the refuelling so lost time their stuck in fourth gear until he could replace it from a spare carried on the bike. He also lost his sump guard to the rocks so says he was taking it a bit easier “to look after things”.
  • The EnduroGP World Champion Jane Daniels completed her first-ever Dakar stage just outside the top 50. Suitably gaining places on the factory Fantic as the terrain got trickier.

(NB: Full results will be uploaded as they become available).

2024 Dakar Rally stage 1 results:



Photo Credit: Hero Motorsports + Honda Racing | MEHT + A.S.O. | F. Le Floc’h | DPPI + Marcin Kin + Rally Zone