Britain’s Sam Sunderland cemented his position as the UK’s greatest ever Rally rider by clinching the FIM Cross Country Rallies World Championship.
The 30-year-old Factory Red Bull KTM rider finished runner-up to local favourite and former World Champion Pablo Quintanilla in the Atacama Rally in Chile but it was enough to be crowned champion with one round of the series still to run.
Sunderland who has twice finished runner-up in the world championship is also a Dakar winner in 2017 and finished third in 2019.
Speaking to MCN, he said: "I’m so happy to finish the race – another podium. Only second place but it’s always tricky to fight with Pablo here in Chili because he’s always so strong. He had a bit of a home advantage, but I have that in Abu Dhabi when we race there so it’s all fair in love and war!
"It’s something that I’ve been working on for a while. It’s one of those things that’s hard to explain to people that don’t know our sport. They think that if you’ve won Dakar you are world champion, but that’s not how it is even though winning Dakar means so much.
"Now I can say I’m the world champion which is nice so a big thanks to everyone in my home life that supports me and obviously the team who put in so much work. KTM are always trying to improve and I think it’s that mentality is what makes them so successful and it’s cool to be a part of that."
Sunderland’s success means that he can go into the final round of the series in Morocco at the beginning of October with the aim of perfecting the set-up of his factory KTM in preparation for Dakar which will be run in Saudi Arabia for the first time in 2020.
"It’s cool to wrap up the championship one round early and it means I can be relaxed heading into the final round in Morocco and it will allow me to work on bike set-up when I’m there and not have the pressure of the championship hanging over me."
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