Dakar 2018: Sunderland wins big opening stage

Published: 07 January 2018

Stage 1 - Lima to Pisco 242km liason, 31km timed special

Factory KTM rider and reigning Dakar champion Sam Sunderland picked up where he left off in 2017 to win the opening stage of Dakar 2018. The 28 year old Brit stormed the opening 31km prologue to win by a not insignificant 32 seconds finishing in a time of 20m 56s.

Second position was Yamaha man Adrien Van Beveren, with reigning FIM Cross Country champion and Husqvarna rider Pablo Quintanilla third.

Honda’s no.1 man Joan Barreda set the fourth fastest time making it four different manufacturers at the top of the classification.

Speaking to MCN, Sunderland said: “Its day one of Dakar, there’s a buzz in the air and a lot of excitement going around. To be honest I planned to take it safe because I know that it can be difficult to see some of the drops, especially at midday when I started because the sun is high in the sky.

The bike was working really well and I felt strong. I watched the navigation, didn’t make any mistakes and I ended up winning the stage. We’ve got a long way to go, but winning a stage is always a positive thing.”

Fellow Brits Max Hunt and Lyndon Poskitt both enjoyed a positive opening day. Hunt riding the HT Husqvarna finished with a time of 29 minutes 56 seconds which made him 66th fastest.

He said: “It was so good to finally start because I was pretty excited to get going. I was a bit apprehensive about the dunes here in Peru, people warned me about how big and steep they were but so far so good.

“I spent the entire liason thinking about how I needed to stay calm on the stage and then I came across another rider on the road, his bike on the ground and him sat in the central reservation holding his arm like he’d broken his collarbone.  Poor guy. I guess he was hit by a car, it shows accidents it can happen anywhere.”

Poskitt who has had to overcome a few dramas to even make day one including fighting off a chest infection and having to pay $1200 to get his rear shock released from customs finished the in stage in 30 minutes 46 seconds placing him 70th overall.

He said: “I’ve been taking loads of medicine for my chest infection, but it seems that all I needed was to start Dakar! I blasted off the line jumped over the first crest and thought ‘f**k yeah, I’m racing Dakar!’ 

“Two minutes later I crashed right in front of the crowds, which was something I said I wasn’t going to do. But apart from that it was good, there was one check point that was hard to find and I had to go back for it. There were lots of people lost. It may have only been a 31km Special but it was a proper Dakar stage. More tomorrow!”

Stage 1 results:

  1. Sam Sunderland          GBR                 KTM                 20m 56s
  2. Adrien Van Beveren    FRA                  Yamaha           +32s
  3. Pablo Quintanilla        CHL                  Husqvarna       +55s
  4. Joan Barreda               ESP                  Honda              +56s
  5. Xavier De Soultrait      FRA                  Yamaha           +1m 06s
  6. Matthias Walkner       AUT                 KTM                 +1m 22s
  7. Franco Caimi               ARG                 Yamaha           +1m 30s
  8. Daniel Jager Nosiglia  BOL                 KTM                 +1m 32s
  9. Antoine Meo               FRA                  KTM                 +1m 48s
  10. Kevin Benavides          ARG                 Honda              +1m 52s

Brits

66. Max Hunt                          GBR                 Husqvarna       +9m 01s
70. Lyndon Poskitt                   GBR                 KTM                 +9m 50s

Keep up with MCN's man on the ground in Dakar on twitter by clicking here. 

Photo credit: KTM/PhotosDakar.com

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