Dakar Stage 7: Sunderland storms back into podium contention with stage win
San Juan to San Juan Total 240 miles with 201 mile Special stage
Having lost over 20m on stage six, Sam Sunderland’s dream of repeating his 2017 Dakar victory appeared to been brought to a premature halt, but after taking a stunning stage seven win he has now put himself back into contention.
Starting the stage 12th, the factory KTM Brit had the advantage of having tracks to follow across the Peruvian desert, but it was a navigational error by his rivals mid way through the stage that allowed him to take significant chunks of time out of the race leaders.
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The convincing stage win means he has now moved up to fourth position 9m 59s off new race leader American Ricky Brabec onboard the Monster Energy Honda.
Sunderland said: “I’m pleased with today, it’s gone really well and it feels good to get some time back on the leaders. Obviously, yesterday I was really disappointed. I opened the stage well but lost time after damaging my rear brake. That upset my strategy a little but then today, I decided to use that frustration to my advantage and push as hard as I could right from the start. I did lose a little time right at the end when it took me a couple of minutes to find a WPC, but overall I’m happy with how I rode the stage. The guys made a few small changes to the suspension on my bike last night and I am really grateful for that. It seems to have helped because the bike felt great today. Tomorrow we start with the fastest cars and trucks, which will make things even more unpredictable again, so we’ll see how we go.”
With Max Hunt out of the race, Richard Main is the only other surviving Brit alongside Sunderland. The 53 year old Redline KTM rider ended the stage in 88th position meaning that he is now 83rd overall with three stages remaining.
Stage 7 result
1 Sam Sunderland KTM 3h 51m 41s
2 Ignacio Cornejo Honda + 1m 51s
3 Ricky Brabec Honda + 6m 30
4 Adrien Van Beveren Yamaha + 9m 40s
5 Luciano Benavides KTM + 11m 19s
6 Andrew Short Husqvarna + 11m 29s
1 Ricky Brabec Honda 24h 48m 02s
2 Toby Price KTM + 6m 55s
3 Adrien Van Beveren Yamaha + 7m 47s
4 Sam Sunderland KTM +9m 58s
5 Pablo Quintanilla Husqvarna + 9m 59s
6 Kevin Benavides Honda + 16m 15s