Alfie Cox: Why Branch is the man to beat at the Toyota Desert Race

The biggest race on the National Cross Country calendar is fast approaching as riders prepare for 1000 km’s of dusty desert trails. The Toyota Kalahari Botswana 1000 Desert Race is a double-header event that will take place this weekend from 22-24 June.

Ross Branch Alfie Cox Toyota Desert Race

Branch kicks off 2018 National Cross Country season. Photo:

Looking to snatch up the title of Desert King for the seventh time in his cross country career is Brother Leader Tread KTM’s Ross Branch. It is no secret that the man fondly known as the “Kalahari Ferrari” is the favourite heading into the iconic event – now more than ever as he prepares for the 2019 Dakar Rally.

Racing legend Alfie Cox was quick to put his money on Branch as the man to beat, but with years of experience highlights the danger of placing too much pressure on the rising star:

Ross Branch Alfie Cox Toyota Desert Race

Racing legend Alfie Cox. Photo:

“The thing I’ve learnt is that when you focus too much on the hype being created as a rider, you can easily lose focus on the job that’s at hand. Things can go wrong in an instant – so you need to keep your head about you,” said Cox.

“With that being said, there’s no denying that this guy is the man to beat next weekend – and for a number of valid reasons!” he added.

Here’s why Cox put his money on Branch as the man to beat:

1. Ross is a local
“We’re talking about the “Kalahari Ferrari” here – Ross comes alive in this terrain. Many people don’t realise that Ross lives in Botswana, so he knows this area like the back of his hand.”

Ross Branch Alfie Cox Toyota Desert Race

Ross Branch storms to victory at 2017 Toyota 1000 Desert Race. Photo:

2. Sand skills like no other
“Few riders have the same set of skills as Ross in more than one discipline. He not only has an incredible offroad racing talent when it comes to speed and endurance, but also knows how to handle thick sand – and that’s a big advantage.”

3. Good, dusty track record
“Ross has six Botswana 1000 Desert Race titles in the bag! There’s no reason for this year to be any different. With an intense Dakar training schedule, Ross is going to be in one of his best forms yet.”

4. Performs when the pressure’s on
“This race is the biggest sporting event of the year in Botswana. With Ross being a local hero, the pressure is definitely on! But time and time again, he’s proven that he thrives in this kind of environment.”

5. A wealth of desert racing experience
“I’ve watched Ross grow up, and seen the amount of work he’s put in to get to this point of his career. It takes a mature rider to sign up for the Dakar, so I don’t doubt what he’s capable of when it comes to any kind of desert racing.”

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Alfie Cox Ross Branch Toyota Desert Race

Branch prepares to take on some of Southern Africa’s sandiest trails. Photo:

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