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A badly broken femur in the middle of 2023 that refused to heal cost the GASGAS rider dearly. Here's what Daniel Sanders had to say about the 2024 Dakar Rally.

It was always a tall order for Daniel Sanders to reach to the pointy end of the 2024 Dakar field. A badly broken femur in the middle of 2023 that refused to heal cost the GASGAS Factory Team rider dearly. Extensive rehabilitation and sheer determination got him back on the bike with no time to spare. Then Sanders did what Sanders does by blasting to second place in the prologue of Dakar 2024. Despite the promising start, it was tough slog from there as Sanders explains.

“I had about two weeks to prepare for Dakar again this year. Although that is not much time to prepare I was confident because I got through it last year. I knew my speed would be okay and after coming second in prologue; I wasn’t stressed but day-one was a reality check and it went pear-shaped. Our bike was new and I went in a bit blind-folded in that regard”.

“Stage-four was tough for me. I didn’t do up my fuel cap properly and I had lost a lot of fuel by the time I realized. I thought my hydration tube was leaking on the back of my right leg so I started drinking all of my water thinking I was going to run out but then I could smell fuel and my leg felt like it was burning a bit. Then I realized what was going on. I picked up some plastic off the ground and shoved that into the tank to stop the leaking. Then I had to be careful on the throttle not to use too much fuel, I only just made it that day with about two litres left in the tank”.

“Stage six was the 48-hour Chrono stage which was a total of 640km of sand dunes. It wasn’t possible to complete it all in one day with the start times and fuel-stop breaks they scheduled for us. There were just nine bikes that made it to the same check-point by the cut-off time after the first day”.

“We were given a tent each, a sleeping bag and ration packs and we just camped out. Whatever else we carried is all that we had. We got a fire going and burnt some shrubs and we ended up burning the organizer’s stakes they had up around the pit area because there’s no timber in the desert”.

“I pretty much had a drama-free event other than the fuel tank issue but we were getting beaten up every day from our bikes. That was the hardest thing for me. The bike was so hard to ride. Due to my injury I was only riding at 70-percent because I didn’t have the confidence to do what I needed to do with the bike the way it was. It felt like we had made a massive step backwards with our bike”.

“My right leg was obviously underdone for the race and there was a lot of compensation going on. You stand up for 80-percent of the day and the last week was hard. I had a couple of free-falls off some dunes which caused some pretty big compressions. That caused some aching to the next level. It was pretty much survival mode then, I just wanted to finish and get a result”.

“Looking at what we had to go through it was unfortunate that we didn’t have the best bike out there to make life a little bit easier to get a result but that’s something that outsiders don’t get to see. We just have to work harder and make the right decisions throughout the year for what we need under us. But that was out of my control because I wasn’t there developing the bike. At the end of the day we can only compare ourselves to the other riders in our team and we were all so level and that was the best we could do”.

“This is the first year since I started racing Dakar that we haven’t won. We got killed in the stones this year. We got a lot of deflection, the bike was so stiff in the front. There was no comfort. That is why we were all so sore in the wrists, I’ve never had a bike like that”.

“The highlight for me was finishing the race but that was the worst Dakar for me. It sucks when you know you can do better but you are sort of getting held back. You lose your confidence and that kills you as a rider. I’m striving for the podium and going for the win and anything less than that, it’s not worth going”.

“For me now, I’ll be back at the doctors to make sure my leg is healing okay and then I hope to get back into the swing of things riding motocross and enduro. I need to get back to what I was because it makes my life so much easier for racing. I’m still contracted to Red Bull GASGAS Factory Racing for another year so we will be full-gas designing and developing new stuff for the bike to make sure we’re back on the podium.”


Daniel Sanders and Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Matthias Walkner are great mates. Unfortunately, Walkner missed this year’s Dakar with a serious leg injury but Sanders kept the Walkner vibes up with daily Instagram gags in and around the camper van that the two riders usually share. With Walkner’s riding gear on-hand, Sanders had a field day chatting with what was essentially a Walkner dummy.

“We had all of Walkner’s gear with us so I decided to keep Walkner entertained with daily skits with a makeshift mannequin. He loved it and he reckons he got another 10,000 followers because of it. It was pretty funny and it gave his sponsors some exposure. It’s good to have some fun when we’re off the bike and it kept his spirits up while he was in hospital.”