Sanders wins Stage 1B at Dakar

Daniel Sanders

GasGas’s Daniel Sanders has extended his lead in the 2022 Dakar Rally with victory in Stage 1B.

Sanders is now 3:07s ahead of the chasing pack, with Monster Energy Honda’s Pablo Quintanilla still second-best, while Red Bull KTM’s Toby Price gave up more than 40 minutes late in the just-completed 333km special.

The two-time champion plummeted from eighth after the prologue, now known as ‘Stage 1A’, to sit 22nd overall after the first stage proper.

For fellow Australian Sanders, however, it was yet another landmark day.

The win in Stage 1A was officially his first at a Dakar, having only debuted last year, and he opted to start 15th on the road for the loop stage around Ha’il.

The 27-year-old then set the fastest split to every waypoint, putting a further 2:07s between himself and Quintanilla in the overall classification.

CLICK HERE for reaction from Sanders

Quintanilla faced competition principally from the other GasGas Factory Racing rider in 2017 Dakar champion Sam Sunderland, although it ended up being 2018 champion Matthias Walkner who was third on the day on his Red Bull KTM entry.

Walkner thus occupies the same position in the general classification, but at 11:06s adrift of Sanders after being 8:31s slower than the Australian on Stage 1B.

Next-best for the event so far is Monster Energy Yamaha’s Adrien Van Beveren at 12:46s off the pace, from BAS Dakar KTM’s Mason Klein at another 1:48s further in arrears.

Sunderland gradually lost touch with the front-runners between the Kilometre 200 and Kilometre 299 waypoints, with the eighth-fastest time for the stage which leaves him sixth overall.

MotoGP race winner Danilo Petrucci, riding under the same Tech3 KTM Factory Racing banner as he did less than two months ago on an RC16 in Valencia, sits 13th overall.

That puts the Italian one spot up on 2021 Dakar champion Kevin Benavides, who shipped half an hour relative to Sanders on the run to the penultimate waypoint of the stage.

Exactly what happened to the Argentine is not clear, but Price admitted to getting lost after confusion over a navigational note somewhere around the same area as where Benavides and yet another champion in Ricky Brabec struck trouble.

Price, who set the 27th-fastest stage time, is 22nd overall at 47:17s behind Sanders, while Monster Energy Honda’s Brabec is back in 35th overall.

CLICK HERE for reaction from Price

The third Australian in the Bikes field, Andrew Houlihan (Nomadas Adventure) is still completing the special after being the 115th rider to set off.

CLICK HERE for Houlihan’s daily diary entry

Stage 2 takes the field to Al Artawiya, a 568km journey featuring a 338km special and plenty of sand dunes.

CLICK HERE for extended highlights of Stage 1B

General classification: Bikes Top 10

Pos Rider Nat Team Time/Gap
1 Daniel Sanders AUS GasGas Factory Team 04:38:40
2 Pablo Quintanilla CHI Monster Energy Honda Team 2022 +0:03:07
3 Matthias Walkner AUT Red Bull KTM Factory Team +0:11:06
4 Adrien Van Beveren FRA Monster Energy Yamaha Rally Team +0:12:46
5 Mason Klein USA BAS Dakar KTM Racing Team +0:14:34
6 Sam Sunderland GBR GasGas Factory Team +0:15:56
7 Lorenzo Santolino ESP Sherco TVS Rally Factory +0:16:54
8 Xavier de Soultrait FRA HT Rally Raid Husqvarna Racing +0:18:36
9 Ross Branch BOT Monster Energy Yamaha Rally Team +0:19:21
10 Skyler Howes USA Husqvarna Factory Racing +0:25:12
22 Toby Price AUS Red Bull KTM Factory Team +0:47:17

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