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By Sports Reporter


SA’s Henk Lategan takes maiden Dakar victory

And Botswana rider Ross Branch finished a fine third on two wheels.

It was a huge day for South African competitors on Dakar’s Day 5 around Riyadh.

Toyota Gazoo Hilux duo Henk Lategan and Brett Cummings finally delivered on their stage winning promise to bring their Toyota Gazoo Hilux home to a fine victory.

And Botswana rider Ross Branch finished a fine third on two wheels, behind KTM duo, Aussie Toby Price and Italian MotoGP racer and Dakar rookie sensation Danilo Petrucci.

There was however more drama before the action even started Thursday morning.

The fourth car overall overnight, Giniel de Villiers and Dennis Murphy’s Gazoo Toyota Hilux, was slapped with a monster five hour penalty after a second incident involving a motorcycle.

That not only saw the South African crew join a long list of race favourites running at the back overall following a litany of different issues, but it also drew widespread criticism of Dakar continuing to race cars and bikes on the same route.

By way of circumstance, while portions of the cars and bike routes have on occasion been separated for safety reasons, Thursday’s romp around Riyadh just happened to be the first ever Dakar stage where the motorcycles raced a completely different route to the cars.

That considered, both the cars and bikes became tales of two races as the first machines to start found the going tough as they opened the road, leaving those who started further back to fight it out for the day’s glory.

All of which played perfectly into Lategan and Cummings’s hands as they not only made good for the team’s overnight woes, they also finally broke their duck.

Starting 16th, the triple South African Cross Country champions initially diced Swedes Mattias Ekström and Emil Bergkvist’s petrol-electric Audi RS Q e-Tron before pulling away to win their first Dakar stage after leading on several occasions over the past two years.


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