Takudzwa Chitsiga Sports Reporter
ZIMBABWEAN motorbike rider Ashley Thixton received a hero’s welcome as he returned home from a successful outing at the Dakar Rally in Saudi Arabia yesterday.
Thixton managed to last the full distance at Dakar 2024 rally finishing on position 32.
Thixton said he was happy to have done the nation proud and will take a rest after two weeks of hard work.
‘I am very happy to be back home and it was such an experience. I enjoyed every moment in Saudi Arabia.
“It’s a dream come true. It really is something that means a lot . . . It’s not easy to get but now I’ve got it.
“I had the privilege of doing it, the privilege of putting myself through it, having people following it with me. I am happy for the support I got from everyone and as you can see there are many people, who have come here to welcome me which shows that I had the support. I am now looking forward to do it again next year.
“For the mean time I am going to take a break and relax as this has been a long two weeks of hard work,” said Thixton.
He became the second Zimbabwean to complete the full distance of the tough two-week Dakar Rally after Graeme Sharp, who achieved this feat in 2020.
Thixton came 20th in the 12th and final stage last Thursady for an overall position of 32 in the bikes section of the 2024 Dakar Rally. In motorsport, Thixton has joined the class of retired motor rally driver Jamie Whyte and his co-driver Phil Archenoul who won the African Championship back-to-back in 2009 and 2010.
And there’s also Mano Zevgolis who has been a dominant force in the local drag racing, main circuit racing and three-hour Endurance Race events.
Ashley’s father, Travor Thixton who accompanied him to Saudi Arabia, said he was happy with his son’s performance in his inaugural appearance at the world stage.
‘I am happy for Ashy. It was a good outing and we enjoyed every moment when we were in Saudi Arabia.
“I am hopeful he will continue to work hard and improve his perfomances,” he said.
The winner of Dakar 2024 was the American Ricky Brabec (Monster Energy Honda Team) — this is his second triumph in the race, repeating his success in 2020.
The Honda factory team has won the third Dakar title in the last five years — in 2020, 2021 and 2024.
Botswana’s Ross Branch of the Hero Motosports Team Rally finished second, the highest achievement of his career (his previous personal best was 13th position at his debut Dakar 2019).
The second position was also the highest achievement for the Indian brand Hero — this is the first podium in its history at Dakar.
Frenchman Adrien van Bevere’s third place (Monster Energy Honda Team) was his personal best at the Dakar — he previously finished fourth in 2017 and 2022.
Indian Harith Noah (Sherco TVS Rally Factory) became the winner in the Rally2 class and was almost five minutes ahead of last year’s winner, Frenchman Romain Dumontier on a Husqvarna.