LAST YEAR Sam Sunderland made history as the first British competitor to win the Dakar in the rally’s 39-year history.
And after a year of intense training, Sunderland is back in South America and ready to defend his title.
But he’s not the only Brit on a bike. Former Superbike racer Max Hunt and privateer Lyndon Poskitt are lining up alongside Sunderland, hoping to make their mark on the World’s most dangerous race.
Team: Red Bull KTM Factory Team
Bike: KTM 450 Rally Replica
Sunderland began racing motocross at the age of seven, but it wasn’t until 19 that his rally raid career took off. While living with his aunt and uncle in Dubai, Sunderland began racing in the local Baja series, where his talent was immediately noticed. He signed first with Honda in 2011, and moved to KTM in 2014.
The 28-year-old won the last year’s Dakar after three failed attempts – due to mechanical issues in 2012 and 2014 and a crash in 2015.
Last year he finished 32 minutes clear of Red Bull KTM Factory teammate Matthias Walkner to take the title and become the first British competitor, across bikes, cars and ATVs, to win the infamous Dakar Rally.
In this year’s event, the reigning champion began with all guns blazing, taking victory in the first 31km special stage, finishing in 20 minutes and 55 seconds, 33 seconds faster than Yamaha’s Adrien Van Beveren in second place.
Unfortunately, the Southampton-born rider didn’t fare so well yesterday, coming seventh in the 267km special stage, completing it in 3 hours, 2 minutes and 45 seconds – 6 minutes and 1 second behind leader Joan Barreda Bort of the Monster Energy Honda team.
Overall, Sunderland sits in fourth, with a total time of 3 hours, 43 minutes and 20 seconds – 5 minutes and 4 seconds behind leader Bort.