Britain’s Sam Sunderland has been ruled out of contention for this year’s Dakar Rally after being slapped with a one-hour penalty on the eighth stage of the gruelling race.
Having lost 20 minutes to race leaders on stage six with a rear brake issue, Sunderland gritted his teeth to win the seventh stage and bring himself back into the mix. A fourth-place finish in yesterday’s special brought him within six minutes of KTM team-mate Toby Price in the overall standings with just two stages remaining.
MORE SPORTS NEWS FROM MCN
However, the Briton has been slammed with a 60-minute penalty after being accused of deliberately causing an electrical fault in his navigation system. After winning stage seven, Sunderland was supposed to open the way yesterday but started fourth after the issue with his machine.
Hours after crossing the stage finish six minutes behind Matthias Walkner, Sunderland was slapped with the penalty which rules him out of the intense battle for the win he’d found himself in with KTM team-mates Price, Walkner and Husqvarna’s Pablo Quintanilla.
Sunderland now sits ninth in the general standings, but it’s not known whether the factory Red Bull KTM team will appeal the penalty.
With Sunderland out of the mix, Husqvarna's Pablo Quintanilla sits 1'03 behind leader Price with the second KTM of Matthias Walkner 6'35 off his team-mate in third. Yamaha rider Adrien van Beveran remains in podium contention just nine minutes off the leader.