KTM continued its Dakar Rally dominance with a 16th consecutive win and an all-KTM podium on Saturday (January 14) when Red Bull KTM factory racers Sam Sunderland of Great Britain and Matthias Walkner of Austria completed the 2017 event with a 1-2 finish, while Spain’s Gerard Farres Guell rounded out the top three.
It’s known as the toughest, most unpredictable race in the world, and Sunderland, who is the first British racer to win the Dakar in any category, went into the final 64 km timed special with a 33-minute advantage aboard his KTM.
Having led the race from stage 5, the 27-year-old held his nerve to take victory after almost 9,000 km travelled through Paraguay, Bolivia, and Argentina while battling with incredibly challenging conditions and difficult navigation.
Sunderland: “When I crossed the line my emotions really took over. I’ve had a lot of weight on my shoulders for the last six days. Now it feels incredible. I have to say thanks to my team, the bike has been great from start to finish. When Toby (Price) went out of the race it was a blow to the team, as he’s a good friend. Because of the strong bonds we have in our team it helped us to pull together and strive to do something special. There’s a lot of fast guys that have the potential to win this race, I think cutting out the mistakes was the key to this win.”
Alex Doringer (KTM Rally Team Manager) said: “The Dakar, with all of these weather conditions, heavy rain and muddy conditions, it was quite difficult for the team from a logistics point of view. I think for the riders, it was quite a different Dakar. There were not as many kilometers of special stages but it was intensive both physically and mentally. Sam did a fantastic job and he was very consistent.”
Sunderland’s Austrian teammate, Walkner, had a little more pressure in the closing stages from fellow KTM pilot Gerard Farres Guell, who finished in an eventual third position and Adrien Van Beveren who won the final stage.
Final Standings Dakar 2017 after 12 of 12 stages
1. Sunderland, 32:06:22 h
2. Walkner, +32:00 min (5 min penalty)
3. Farres Guell, +35:40
4. Van Beveren, +36:28 (1 min penalty)
5. Barreda, +43:08 (58:01 min penalty)