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Dakar 2018: Sunderland 'OK' despite squashed discs

Published: 10 January 2018

Dakar Rally champion Sam Sunderland has confirmed he sustained no fractures in the incident that ruled him out of the 2018 event.

Leading the race after the first three stages, Sunderland was looking strong on stage four before a crash between the third and fourth checkpoints on the special stage saw him ruled out of action.

While he initially got back on his factory KTM, he went on to experience severe back pain and lost feeling in his legs, leading to him pulling over. He was evacuated from the stage by helicopter and taken to the medical tent at the bivouac before being transferred to hospital in Lima, where it has now been confirmed he sustained two squashed discs in the incident.

“Sorry to be out so soon and let down my team and supporters,” he said. “I’m currently sat here feeling pretty lucky. It’s a scary thing to lose the feeling in your legs but now it’s OK. I still have some pain from two squashed discs but I will be OK soon enough. Good luck to my team for the rest of the race.”

With Sunderland out, Yamaha’s Adrien van Beveren leads the way after victory on stage four. He’s just two minutes ahead of Husqvarna’s Pablo Quintanilla with Honda’s kevin Benavides in third. The leading KTM is now Matthias Walker, 5 minutes back in fourth place.