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Ross Branch maneuvers through Dakar!

For the past five days, Dakar Rally fans have been glued to their screens with high level of anticipation as riders are put to their paces in the dunes of Peru. Batswana in particular have set their hopes on Ross Branch.

Branch popularly known as ‘Kalahari Ferrari’ has built a strong reputation over the last three years as the Southern African’s fastest Cross Country rider and he is proving that at the world’s most grueling off-road event. He, together with his compatriot Vincent Crosbie have dreamt of finishing the Dakar, and in a fantastic moment set-off for stage one on Monday with a 246km liaison and 84km special in store. A few issues with his GPS system saw him racing with slightly more caution than usual to avoid penalties. Despite this, he settled in comfortably to finish stage one with a 43rd place overall.

“It was slightly nerve-racking off the start line, but I’m just relieved to have gotten that first stage out of the way! Navigation is actually easier than I thought it would be. Now it’s time to put my head down, focus on the good things and have some fun,” said Branch after stage one.
His nerves had clearly settled by the time the second stage rolled in, and Branch stormed the desert terrain to affirm his nickname as the ‘Kalahari Ferrari’. It was pulsating to track the rider over the 342km special as he moved up the ranks to finish the stage in an impressive 20th place.

With a tight grip on a comfortable 30th position overall, his Dakar journey was off to an extremely promising start. A technical challenge, however, brought Branch to an unexpected crossroad. He had broken his KTM motorbike 6th gear during the second stage – a problem that could only be fixed by replacing the engine. While the solution seemed simple enough, it came with a 15 minute penalty and ultimately the cost of 8 positions overall. He debated changing the engine with the hope of making up 15 minutes, or playing it safe and riding the rest of the rally with five gears.

“We decided to take the penalty and put a new engine in, which they worked on until 3AM this morning! It’s still a long rally, and it just wasn’t worth risking engine failure at some point and throwing this opportunity away. Things like this happen at the Dakar, and we just have to work forward from here and give it our best shot. I’ll take it a bit easier today to run the new engine in,” Branch explained in his Facebook page. For day three Branch had an exceptional day running among the world’s best in the top 25 before coming home 24th, to move up to second among the rookies and 25th overall.

Botswana Motor Sport Secretary General Jackie Meyer has been quoted saying they are expecting a “greater performance from Branch and that his standing was good since he was competing with over 140 world-class rider.” The rally which has over 500 competitors in different categories will end on the 16th of this month.

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Mason Greenwood attempted rape charges dropped

2nd February 2023

Charges of attempted rape and assault have been dropped against Manchester United footballer Mason Greenwood who was arrested in January 2022 after the allegations emerged.

The 21-year-old was arrested in January last year amid allegations surrounding images and videos that emerged online.

He was later charged with attempted rape, controlling and coercive behaviour and assault occasioning actual bodily harm.

The Crown Prosecution Service said the charges were discontinued after a key witness withdrew their involvement.

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Raphael Varane announces retirement from international football after 10 years of service.

2nd February 2023

The Manchester United defender will now focus on his club career having made 93 caps for France, appearing at three world cups and on European championship. The Les Bleus won the World cup in 2018 and Raphael Varane started all but one of France’s matches in Qatar as they finished as runners up to Argentina

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Finally, sponsors jerk BFA

30th January 2023

With many being of the view that the state of football in Botswana has deteriorated significantly as it is no longer appealing to the business community, this was a good week for the football community. The Botswana Football Association (BFA) leadership under the stewardship of MacLean Letshwiti secured sponsorship for a combined value of P19. 3 million for the FA Cup competition and the First Division league – both South and North.

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