Sanders makes strong start in Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge

Daniel Sanders

Australian Daniel Sanders has consolidated third position overall after the first two stages of the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge.

The GasGas factory rider is 3:42s off the event lead after setting the third-fastest time on Stage 2, the longest of five in what is the final round of the FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship.

However, it was not a straightforward 333km special for Sanders, who crashed multiple times.

“Day 2 went OK for me, but not as well as I’d hoped,” he said.

“I found it hard to get into a good rhythm early on – I had a couple more scary calls with some drops as I’m still learning how to read the terrain here in the desert.

“I had a couple of crashes too – one gave me quite a knock and I ended up in a hole in the dunes. I had to dig the bike out a little and that cost me some time.

“I got to the refuel and managed to get some food and water into me, recharged and felt a lot better after that. For the second half of the stage, I felt a lot better and managed to find a good pace.

“The terrain suited me better too, with more tracks and plateaus. I finished third-fastest today, which puts me in a good spot for tomorrow.”

The 27-year-old was second-fastest in the Prologue and fourth-fastest in Stage 1.

Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s sole representative, Matthias Walkner, has moved into the event lead after finishing second on Stage 2 to Monster Energy Yamaha’s Adrien Van Beveren, who now holds second overall.

In Cars, Toyota’s Nasser Al-Attiyah is more than six minutes to the good after winning both stages so far, with Orlen’s Jakub Przygonski second in both in a John Cooper Works buggy.

Matthias Walkner

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