NEOM, SAUDI ARABIA - In a sensational second day of Dakar 2020, Southern African competitors Ross Branch, Giniel de Villiers and Conrad Rautenbach took a historic hat-trick of wins in the motorcycle, car and side by side classes.
Botswana motorcycle hero and multiple South African Cross Country champion Ross Branch stormed home to a sensational and historic maiden Dakar stage win on his KTM, while 2009 SA Dakar winner Giniel de Villiers had a far better day to win the car race in his SA-built Gazoo Racing Toyota Hilux. It was also a strong day for Zimbabwean ex SA rally champion Conrad Rautenbach, who fought for the Side by Side class lead in another day of surprises as the race sped to Neom in Saudi Arabia.
Giniel bounces back
De Villiers enjoyed a steady day after his tough four-puncture first stage to move up from his 14th starting spot to fifth by the first waypoint and then second behind Saudi home hero Yazeed al Rajhi’s similar SA-built Toyota by the end of the fourth sector. He then took advantage of Al Rahji’s woes to move into the lead and take the day's stage from Mini driver Orlando Terranova, Sheik Al Qassimi’s Peugeot and Frenchman Mattieu Serradori, who delivered a sensational fourth in his South African-built Corvette-powered Century buggy. The stage win saw de Villiers move up to sixth place overall.
It was another dramatic day as the rest of the car top ten ebbed and flowed behind the consistent de Villiers and flying Al Rajhi, who had taken complete advantage of his home knowledge to lead the way and open up a significant stage lead through day 2, while his rivals preserved their tyres as they learned the way. Al Qassimi led the early chase before he hit trouble to allow reigning champion Nasser Al Attiyah to take up the chase, but he too hit trouble to see de Villiers into second ahead of Russian Vladimir Vassiliev’s Mini, which also later suffered problems.