Toby Price may have won Stage 1 even after a two-minute penalty, but it was Ross Branch who put in the fastest time on Stage 2, becoming the first rider from Botswana to take top honours with a Dakar stage win.
Stage two at the 2020 Dakar Rally also presented riders with several new challenges. The pre-coloured road books used for the first time this year were only given to competitors 25 minutes before the start of the 367-kilometre timed special. Also, with the day marking the first half of the event’s Super Marathon stage, riders were only allowed 10 minutes to work on their bikes at the end of the day, with no outside assistance permitted.
Starting the day from fourteenth, Branch took advantage of the tracks opened by other riders, to ride his own race, with navigation also proving a strong point.
“Today was really good and I had a lot of fun on the bike. Starting fourteenth this morning helped a lot because there were some tracks that opened the road. I had a lot of fun and tried to ride my own race. I navigated well today which was really good for me and I think it helped a lot. Then I just took it easy…”
Stage 2 runner-up was Sam Sunderland, proving consistency is key and sitting 1min-24s off Branch’s winning time of 3:39’10”. That was enough to claim the overall lead, by 1min-32s from Pablo Quintanilla.
Quintanilla improved on his Stage 1 result of sixth to claim the final place in the top three on day two, which also earnt him runner-up position in the combined standings.
Rounding out the top five for the day were Kevin Benavides and Luciano Benavides, just 3min-40s and 3min-44s off stage-winning pace respectively.
Toby Price had to settle for 17th for the day on board his Red Bull KTM Factory Team machine after tackling the challenge of starting first, but held onto a top-ten position in the overall standings in ninth – 7min-34s off Sunderland’s leading pace.
“A very challenging day with our first Super Marathon stage complete, it is all new for everyone and doesn’t really allow us much time to work on the bikes which made things interesting. Navigation today was really difficult and the conditions were tricky with so many lines to choose from! With such heavy navigation, it leaves you feeling like you’re gambling with your decisions all day, but it makes it interesting for all competitors. Starting first is always going to be a disadvantage and today was a day I knew the rest of the field would make time on me, I don’t plan on starting first too many more times after my efforts today but I’m feeling good, the bike is in good shape for tomorrow and I’m looking forward to Stage 3!”
Fellow Australian Rodney Faggotter proved consistent, following up his Stage 1 19th placing, with a strong 18th in Stage 2, claiming 17th overall.
“17th quickest today. Saw a couple crashed riders today and some other riders that had started in front of me were with them – so I will possibly slip down from 17th position depending on what time they are given nack for stopping – but all good! Solid day. Had dust for about 200klms then led out in front of my group which means a lot of navigation but no dust! The riding here is so diverse and so far.. fun!”
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