Guillaume de Mevius

Dakar Stage 1: Wins for De Mevius (Cars) and Branch (Bikes)

Guillaume de Mevius beat Carlos Sainz Sr. in the volcanic soil of the second half of the Dakar Stage 1 to win the Car class, while Ross Branch won on Bikes.

Medina Province, in the north-western quadrant of Saudi Arabia, set the scene for the special, which went on and on for 414 kilometers and threw the riders and crews of the Dakar in at the deep end.


After exiting AlUla, the field weaved its way around canyons on sand, but the landscape soon changed to more challenging terrain. Several riders were brought down by stones, including the victor of the prologue, Tosha Schareina, who was one of the favorites to take the motorbike race, but the stage winner, Ross Branch, and 3rd place Mason Klein successfully navigated the fiendish course.

Ross Branch
Ross Branch

Rule number 1 in a motorbike race is to stay upright no matter how many pebbles, stones or rocks stand in the way. A couple of riders broke this cardinal rule this morning, as the seasoned Joaquim Rodrigues crashed out of the race at km 82 and the budding talent Tosha Schareina bowed out of his third Dakar at km 240 with a fractured arm.

“J-Rod” had earned the Indian constructor Hero its maiden stage win in 2022. In sharp contrast, his teammate Ross Branch romped home with the fastest time in the special and scooped up his fourth career Dakar stage win.

The 37-year old Botswanan airline pilot who moonlights as a rally-raid racer also surged ahead in the overall, where he now holds a 12-minute margin over the 2020 Dakar champion, Ricky Brabec, and Mason Klein, who embraced the task of opening the road with panache and spent the entire stage alone at the front.

2nd place in Stage 1: Mason Klien
3rd place in Stage 1: Mason Klien

But the Hero factory rider got the 25 minutes he had spent helping Schareina deducted from his time, catapulting him into the early race lead by almost a dozen minutes from Ricky Brabec.

“You know, racing isn’t everything, so when you see one of the competitors lying on the floor, it’s the best thing to stop and wait with them and make sure that they’re OK,” said Branch.

He described Schareina as “a really good guy”, adding “you never like to see your friends like that”.

“So it’s no problem for me. We had to stop and help, and that’s what we’re there for. If it was me who was lying on the ground, I’m sure he would stop and help me.”

Ricky Brabec was on a mission spending most of the stage amongst the front runners as he looked to move up the overall ranking, the 2020 winner using his experience to take a well deserved second place at the end of the day.

Ricky Brabec
Ricky Brabec

“You couldn’t even count the amount of rocks out there and when you’re trying to dodge them and read your notes it’s tough,” said Brabec. “You don’t want to crash on the rocks, you don’t want to miss a note so it’s finding that balance. Definitely the navigation was hard today and so was the riding. The plan for tomorrow is just to make it to the next bivouac without making any big mistakes.”


Guillaume de Mevius got a big confidence boost at the wheel of his Toyota Hilux, which he had only driven in the Rallye du Maroc before.

The young Belgian, who was still guarded about his prospects when he claimed his first win in T3 in 2022, can now look for parallels with his father Grégoire, who waited until his fourth start before snapping up the three stage wins on his list of victories.

In his very first stage in the premier class, the latest scion of the De Mevius dynasty finished 1′44″ ahead of a driver of the caliber of Carlos Sainz  Sr. in a special that scattered the rest of the favorites to the wind. A flurry of punctures cost Nasser Al Attiyah 25 minutes and his teammate Sébastien Loeb 23 minutes, while Guerlain Chicherit limped home with a 22-minute loss.

It was also a bad day at the office for Stéphane Peterhansel (32 minutes down). On the other side of the coin, the outsiders who started from afar got the best results, with Giniel de Villiers finishing third at 9′18″, Vaidotas Žala fourth at 10′42″, Romain Dumas fifth at 12′18″ and Lucas Moraes sixth at 13′25″, for a total of six Toyotas in the top 8.

Bikes Stage 1

Pos. No. Rider Team Time Behind
1 46 (Bwa) Ross Branch Hero Motosports Team Rally 04H 56′ 01”
2 9 (Usa) Ricky Brabec Monster Energy Honda Team 05H 06′ 55” + 00H 10′ 54”
3 98 (Usa) Mason Klein Korr Offroad Racing 05H 07′ 20” + 00H 11′ 19”
4 11 (Chl) Jose Ignacio Cornejo Florimo Monster Energy Honda Team 05H 09′ 44” + 00H 13′ 43”
5 15 (Esp) Lorenzo Santolino Sherco Rally Factory 05H 10′ 12” + 00H 14′ 11”
6 47 (Arg) Kevin Benavides Red Bull Ktm Factory Racing 05H 11′ 38” + 00H 15′ 37”
7 5 (Aus) Daniel Sanders Red Bull Gasgas Factory Racing 05H 12′ 55” + 00H 16′ 54”
8 23 (Cze) Martin Michek Orion – Moto Racing Group 05H 13′ 13” + 00H 17′ 12”
9 7 (Chl) Pablo Quintanilla Monster Energy Honda Team 05H 16′ 34” + 00H 20′ 33”
10 42 (Fra) Adrien Van Beveren Monster Energy Honda Team 05H 17′ 00” + 00H 20′ 59”


Cars Stage 1

Pos. No. Driver/Navigator Team Time Variation
1 221 (Bel) Guillaume De Mevius

(Fra) Xavier Panseri

Overdrive Racing 04H 35′ 59”
2 204 (Esp) Carlos Sainz Sr.

(Esp) Lucas Cruz

Team Audi Sport 04H 37′ 43” + 00H 01′ 44”
3 209 (Zaf) Giniel De Villiers

(Zaf) Dennis Murphy

Toyota Gazoo Racing 04H 45′ 17” + 00H 09′ 18”
4 214 (Ltu) Vaidotas Zala

(Prt) Paulo Fiuza

X-Raid Arijus Team 04H 46′ 41” + 00H 10′ 42”
5 231 (Fra) Romain Dumas

(Fra) Max Delfino

Rebellion Racing 04H 48′ 17” + 00H 12′ 18”
6 206 (Bra) Lucas Moraes

(Esp) Armand Monleon

Toyota Gazoo Racing 04H 49′ 24” + 00H 13′ 25”
7 201 (Sau) Yazeed Al Rajhi

(Deu) Timo Gottschalk

Overdrive Racing 04H 49′ 38” + 00H 13′ 39”
8 212 (Fra) Mathieu Serradori

(Fra) Loic Minaudier

Century Racing Factory Team 04H 50′ 11” + 00H 14′ 12”
9 207 (Swe) Mattias Ekström

(Swe) Emil Bergkvist

Team Audi Sport 04H 50′ 19” + 00H 14′ 20”
10 226 (Zaf) Saood Variawa

(Fra) Francois Cazalet

Toyota Gazoo Racing 04H 50′ 33” + 00H 14′ 34”
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