“Wow, what a feeling!” - Sam Sunderland says ‘22 Dakar win better than first

Sam Sunderland savours his superb second win on the Dakar Rally as he becomes only the third rider in history to win event in two different locations

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Sam Sunderland says his historic second victory on the 2022 Dakar Rally feels better than his first in 2017 as he became one of only a select few riders to score at least two successes on the gruelling desert rally-raid.

The British rider powered to a famous win in Saudi Arabia after holding his nerve on a tense twelfth and final 680km stage to secure victory by a 3m 27s over Honda’s Pablo Quintanilla.

In a fortnight of tumultuous ups and downs for many of the leading contenders, Sunderland reained consistent throughout while others hit problems. Leading for the majority of the first week despite a painful fall on day four, Sunderland’s time at the top was more sporadic on week two, largely due to a disastrous SS7 when navigation issues lost him a mammoth 26mins.

However, with closest rivals also suffering similar issues, Sunderland never strayed more than six minutes off the lead, bouncing back to the top on a pivotal penultimate SS11 before keeping it clean on SS12 to complete victory.

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After becoming the first British person to win the Dakar Rally in any class during the South America-based 2017 event, Sunderland is the ninth rider to win more than once but only one of three to do so in different locations.

“Wow. What a feeling! That 10-minute period waiting at the end of the final stage to see if I’d won felt like a lifetime. But this feeling, knowing I’ve won a second Dakar, will stay in my memory forever. This win feels better than the first as this victory was anything but easy.

“The times were so close this year and there was no time to let off the gas, it was a really close race, right to the end. All of the hard work, the sacrifices, and everything that the GASGAS team has done for me makes it all worthwhile. 

“It’s been five years since my first Dakar win, and it’s been a long time to wait! I’m super happy to get another win and claim the first one for GASGAS. 

“Everyone on the team has worked so hard to achieve this and it’s a true team effort – together we got the job done. Amazing.”

While his win in 2017 came on a KTM, Sunderland’s 2022 success also marks the first Dakar Rally win for Spanish company GASGAS, though this is partly reflected on its use of machinery based on the KTM 450 Rally, the result of its 2020 acquisition by Pierer/KTM.

Regardless, it makes GASGAS only the sixth different brand to win on the Dakar Rally in 44 years, joining BMW, Yamaha, Honda, KTM and Cagiva.