Red Bull KTM rider Sam Sunderland has secured his first Dakar crown and extended KTM's winning streak to an unprecedented 16 consecutive victories.
At just 64km long and devoid of any serious obstacles the 12th and final Stage of the Dakar Rally is more of a formality than anything else. Sunderland nursed his KTM 450 Rally Replica through the 64km timed stage without losing a position then after a long 722km liaise section to Buenos Aires his victory was sealed.
The British rider had won his first Dakar title. An incredible accomplishment given it was only his third attempt and the first time he’d finished the rally, after two failed attempts in 2014 and 2012.
“Unbelievable. When I crossed the line I felt all the emotion hit me,” said Sunderland at the finish line. “The weight on my shoulders of the race over the last week, leading the rally has been really heavy. It’s the first Dakar I’ve ever finished and to finish first is an incredible feeling. I’m really lost for words.”
Yamaha’s Adrien Van Beveren was battling for the final step on the podium but would come up short to KTM rider Gerard Farres Guell after receiving a one-minute penalty for speeding in Stage 11.
With Farres Guell securing third place and Red Bull KTM’s Matthias Walkner second the podium was an all KTM affair. Sunderland’s victory gives KTM its 16th consecutive Dakar title.
Monster Energy Honda riders Joan Barreda and Paulo Goncalves would place 4-5 but for another year the elusive Dakar victory would escape the grasp of the Japanese manufacturer.
Todd Smith would complete the rally in 18th position and countryman Matt Hart, in his first Dakar attempt, finished 44th.
Final Overall Standings
1 SUNDERLAND SAM (GBR) KTM 450 RALLY REPLICA 32h06m22s
2 WALKNER MATTHIAS (AUT) KTM 450 RALLY REPLICA 05m00s 32h38m22s +32m00s
3 FARRES GUELL GERARD (ESP) KTM 450 RALLY 32h42m02s +35m40s
4 VAN BEVEREN ADRIEN (FRA) YAMAHA WR450F 01m00s 32h42m50s +36m28s
5 BARREDA BORT JOAN (ESP) HONDA CRF450RALLY 58m01s 32h49m30s +43m08
18 SMITH TODD (AUS) KTM 450 RR 25m00s 35h59m47s +03h53m25s
44 HART MATTHEW (AUS) HUSQVARNA FR450 RALLY – 34m00s 41h26m08s +09h19m46s