After twelve long stages and over 38 hours of competitive racing, Sam Sunderland from Poole in England, has just won his second Dakar Rally, this time on a GASGAS. The Brit, on his KTM Rally Replica-derived GASGAS only actually won one stage (stage 8) but his overall victory just goes to show how important consistency is in an event like the Dakar Rally.
Sam’s last Dakar win was back in 2017 when he was riding for the KTM Factory Racing outfit. For those of you that don’t know, the GASGAS brand is owned by KTM, so it was only really a sideways move. Never the less, it’s the first ever Dakar Rally win for a GASGAS branded motorcycle, and I’m fairly sure they are all pretty ‘stoked’ about it. And so they should be.
In the end, Sam Sunderland won by three minutes and twenty-seven seconds from Chilean Pablo Quintanilla who was in turn another three minutes and twenty seconds in front of Austrian Mathias Walkner. That means after nearly forty hours of racing, the top three were separated by less than seven minutes. Wowza.
And perhaps it would have been closer had there not been so many of the high profile front runners falling by the wayside over the last twelve days. Danilo Petrucci the ex-MotoGP rider who won a stage in his first ever Dakar, wasn’t actually in the standings because he broke down on day three. Kevin Benavides, last years Dakar winner, also had a breakdown, putting him out of the running. Early stage winner Daniel Sanders had a big crash on the liaison section (the un-timed section of the course), smashing his bike and himself up in the process, which put him in hospital and out of the race.
It was a fantastic demonstration by Sam Sunderland that to finish first, first you’ve got to finish.
And fair play to the GASGAS boys that kept his bike going. I know it’s really just a KTM in disguise, but what I like about the GASGAS range is that they tend to be a little bit more affordable than their KTM counterparts. So what I’m really hoping is that, fresh after their maiden Dakar Rally win, GASGAS release a proper rally bike, like the KTM Rally Rep, that’s just as good, but not quite as expensive. Because if they do, I’ll be putting my name down for one!
So all that’s left for me to say on the subject is well done to Sam Sunderland, GASGAS, and everyone that made it to the end of the Dakar Rally in 2022. We’ll see you there in 2023.