GasGas hails Aussie Sanders’ ‘really positive’ debut

Daniel Sanders

Daniel Sanders’ first rally as team leader for GasGas has been hailed a “really positive” showing by the squad’s boss, Jordi Viladoms.

Sanders finished fourth on his Dakar Rally debut in January and has now matched that result in Round 1 of the FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship, Rally Kazakhstan.

That was his first start for GasGas since switching from its sister manufacturer, KTM, a move which puts him in a high-profile role.

Viladoms, team manager of both the KTM and GasGas works squads, was impressed by the Australian Off Road Champion.

“Overall, it’s been a really positive rally for Daniel,” he said.

“Not a great start with the high speeds and a few mistakes with his navigation, but nothing major. Daniel showed that he is a quick learner and can adapt though, and he showed great pace from Stage 3 onwards.

“I think from the next round we will see him up front earlier on and he’ll be in a better place to challenge for the podium.”

Sanders himself added after the final stage, “Another good day for me today and I feel like I’m back to where I belong.

“My navigation was on point today. The stage was shortened but up until that point I didn’t make a single mistake and got into a good rhythm. It’s a shame as I felt awesome on the bike today.

“But anyway, that’s my first world championship race done, and I learned a lot this week.

“The focus now is to work on a few things before the next round so that I can start strong and be up the front from the beginning.”

Yamaha’s Ross Branch won the event with a margin of just over five minutes to KTM’s Matthias Walkner.

The latter’s team-mate, Sam Sunderland, suffered a fractured hip and concussion when he crashed around 20km into the fifth and final stage.

Next up is the Silk Way Rally, Round 2 of the FIM Cross-Country season, in Russia from July 1.

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