Stage nine of the 2022 Dakar Rally was a crucial one for GASGAS Factory Racing’s Sam Sunderland.
After his impressive stage win yesterday, he faced the arduous task of leading the riders out on today’s 287-kilometre timed special. Digging deep to post a 14th place finish – a result that at first glance might look anything but impressive but in reality is genuinely one hell of a performance – the Brit lost only a minimal amount of time, just over eight minutes in fact, to the eventual stage winner. Now lying two minutes adrift of the provisional overall rally leader with three days to go, the race to the finish is well and truly on for Sunderland.
“Opening a stage only adds to the difficulty of rally racing and I’m super happy with how the day went for me,” said Sunderland.
“On paper, you could look at the results and think it wasn’t a great stage for me, but the reality was that leading out means you’re relying solely on your roadbook. Not losing huge chunks of time today means I did a pretty good job. Since my crash last week, I’ve felt better and better every day so I’m looking forward to this continuing through the final three days.”
In what’s turning into a four-rider battle for the 2022 Dakar title, Sunderland’s performance on stage nine may well be his best yet. With the Brit now firing on all cylinders after his crash during week one, he’s back to his best and more than ready for the final three days of racing.
Results (provisional): Dakar Rally 2022, stage 9
1. Jose Ignacio Cornejo (Honda) 2:29:30
2. Kevin Benavides (KTM) 2:30:56
3. Ricky Brabec (Honda) 2:31:17
14. Sam Sunderland (GASGAS) 2:37:33
Overall Provisional Classification (after stage 9)
1. Matthias Walkner (KTM) 30:14:03
2. Sam Sunderland (GASGAS) 30:16:15
3. Adrien Van Beveren (Yamaha) 30:17:59