THE 2018 Dakar dream is over for Sam Sunderland following a crash during yesterday’s 330km fourth stage.
The 28-year-old race leader and defending champion reportedly dropped into a large hole between the third and fourth checkpoints and suffered back compression. Despite continuing to ride for 5km, pain and a loss of feeling in his legs forced the Red Bull KTM rider to be evacuated from the race.
After being airlifted back to the bivouac, the well-liked Brit was flown to the Clínica Anglo Americana in the Peruvian capital of Lima for examination. Further reports revealed that an MRI scan discovered no fractures, while Sunderland announced on Instagram that he has two squashed discs.
Posting a black and white photo of his KTM 450 Rally Replica from hospital, Sunderland wrote: ‘Thank you for all the kind messages, sorry to be out so soon and let down my team and supporters, I’m currently sat here feeling pretty lucky it’s a scary thing to loose the feeling in your legs but now it’s ok, I still have some pain from 2 squashed discs but I will be ok soon enough. Good luck to my team for the rest of the race!’
Thank you for all the kind messages, sorry to be out so soon and let down my team and supporters, I’m currently sat here feeling pretty lucky it’s a scary thing to loose the feeling in your legs but now it’s ok, I still have some pain from 2 squashed discs but I will be ok soon enough. Good luck to my team for the rest of the race!
Speaking yesterday, KTM Rally Team Manager Alex Doringer commented: ‘Unfortunately Sam had an accident today whilst searching for a waypoint around the 230km mark.
‘I managed to talk to Sam, before he flew to hospital, and although disappointed, he was still in good spirits.
'Overall, the team is performing well, and we’re pleased with how the rally is going.’
Sunderland’s withdrawal from the Rally followed a promising start, in which he took two of the three opening stages and found himself atop the leader board with a four minute, 38 second lead on second place Kevin Benavides, of the Monster Energy Honda team.
KTM's Dakar battle now rests in the capable hands of Toby Price, Matthias Walkner, Antoine Meo and Laia Sanz.
Austrian Walkner finished yesterday’s difficult special in third place, seven minutes and 10 seconds behind Yamaha leader Adrien Van Beveren. This saw him rise from sixth to fourth in the overall standings. Despite both finishing yesterday’s race in 15th and 16th places, Price, from Australia, and Meo, from France, also occupy the top 10 – at sixth and 10th respectively. Spaniard Sanz, aka the ‘Queen of the Desert’, is not far behind, at 19th in the overall standings, after finishing 25th yesterday.
Fellow Dakar racers yesterday took to Twitter to express their sadness at the news of Sunderland’s injury.
Saw Sam Sunderland bike towards the end, my heart sank. Hoping he’s ok. Lyndon
— Lyndon Poskitt (@LyndonPoskitt) 9 January 2018
Today was a difficult day! 150 km inside the dust and I didn't found my rhythm. Tomorrow's stage will be similar (maybe tougher than today), but I hope it will be better for me. Lots of encouragement to my teammate @Sundersam!! I hope you are fine!!@dakar #Dakar2018 pic.twitter.com/0RVw18fSen
— Laia Sanz (@LaiaSanz_) 9 January 2018
Visordown would like to join the motorsport community in wishing Sam a speedy recovery!