On Monday, Sam Sunderland was at the top of the leaderboard in the 2018 Dakar Rally, on his way to securing KTM’s 17th-straight Dakar Rally victory. By the next day however, Sunderland’s fortunes were much more different, with the treachery of the Dakar showing itself.
Taking a massive crash during on Tuesday, Sunderland’s Dakar Rally was over, thus ending his hopes for a back-to-back winning of the iconic off-road race.
The crash occurred during the timed “special” of Stage 4, with Sunderland’s KTM 450 Rally apparently crashing into a large hole. The crash was so severe, Sunderland worried that he had broken his back, with him unable to feel his legs after remounting and riding several more miles.
Thankfully, Sunderland has been cleared of any life-changing injuries, having suffered “only” two crushed discs in his spinal column.
The British rider’s disappointment was still palpable though, as he posted to social media:
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! ??????
Sunderland arguably won last year’s Dakar because of Toby Price’s leg injury, which catapulted Sunderland to the top of KTM’s internal leaderboard. Now with the 2017 Dakar Rally winner out of the contest, we wait and see who will fill his vacancy.
As of today’s writing, it is Yamaha’s Adrien Van Beveren, who leads Honda’s Kevin Benavides by one minute, and KTM’s Matthias Walkner by 1’14”.
With such a narrow gap in the standings however, the 2018 Dakar Rally is certainly still anyone’s race to win.
Overall Standings for the 2018 Dakar Rally – Stage 5:
|1||VAN BEVEREN Adrien||FRA||Yamalube Yamaha Official Rally Team||11:03’23|
|2||QUINTANILLA Pablo||CHI||Husqvarna Factory Rally Team||+01’55|
|3||BENAVIDES Kevin||ARG||Monster Energy Honda Team||+03’15|
|4||WALKNER Matthias||AUT||Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Team||+05’23|
|5||DE SOULTRAIT Xavier||FRA||Yamalube Yamaha Official Rally Team||+07’34|
|6||PRICE Toby||AUS||Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Team||+10’14|
|7||CORNEJO José Ignacio||CHI||Monster Energy Honda Team||+12’06|
|8||CAIMI Franco||ARG||Yamalube Yamaha Official Rally Team||+12’48|
|9||FARRES Gerard||SPA||Himoinsa Team||+13’05|
|10||MEO Antoine||FRA||Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Team||+13’47|