Zimbabweans improve at Dakar rally

Asia and Oceania Sport

ZTN Sports

The Zimbabwean pair of Conrad Rautenbach and Graeme Sharp improved placings in stage two at the Dakar Rally 2020 in Saudi Arabia on Monday.

Rautenbach finished third, a marked improvement from his 11th place finish on Sunday.

The Zimbabwean driver was happy at his improvement and hailed his team for the good effort and is looking forward to stage three on Tuesday.

 “We had a better day today and the mechanics did well tuning the car to my liking, we finished up third.

“Of course we had a tire puncture but it was a good day for us. We are looking forward to tomorrow and the rest of the rally,” said Rautenbach.

Sharp, participating in his first Dakar Rally event, ended the day placed 74th in the bike section. This is a huge improvement from stage one’s 114th finish on Sunday, which was blighted by a 40-minute penalty he received for missing a checkpoint.

Sharp started at the back of the field on Monday but did well to finish in the top 75 and is looking forward to another race on Tuesday.

“We have finished stage two which is a very tough stage, stage but I enjoyed it.

“Thank you very much for the support and I am enjoying the bike and finding my rhythm. I am feeling stronger in the body and looking forward to tomorrow,” said Sharp.

Besides Sharp’s improvement, it was a good day in the desert for some of the Southern African racers with Ross Branch and Giniel de Villers winning their races in the bikes and car races respectively.

Branch’s achievement means he is the first competitor from Botswana in the history of the Dakar rally to win a stage.

African victories at this stage are few and far between. South Africa’s Alfie Cox was eight between 1999 and 2003 and Malian-born French pilot Alain Ducios won the race in 2014.

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