Sanders takes valuable experience from Dakar stage win

Daniel Sanders

Daniel Sanders gained valuable experience from leading the field in a victorious ride on Stage 1B of the 2022 Dakar Rally.

The GasGas Factory Racing rider had already prevailed in the prologue, now known as ‘Stage 1A’, and hence was able to choose to start 15th in the road order for the 333km loop around Ha’il.

He was therefore initially able to follow the tracks left by the rest of the previous day’s top 15, but ended up at the front of the field towards the end of Stage 1B anyway.

Sanders will have to do the same when Stage 2 gets underway, given he will open the road for the 568km journey to Al Artawiya, which includes a 338km special.

For now, the second-year Dakar competitor is 3:07s up in the general classification after beating Honda’s Pablo Quintanilla to the day’s honours by 2:07s.

“So far things are shaping up really good,” said the Australian.

“After winning the prologue yesterday, I got to choose my starting position and opted to start in 15th and then focus on chasing after the guys up front.

“There was some tricky navigation near the end of the special but I kept cool, avoided any huge errors and then l led the stage to the end.

“This was great for me as it made sure I focused on my roadbook and, as I’ll lead out tomorrow, it was good to get a little experience of riding alone up front.

“I’m excited for tomorrow and looking forward to the challenge ahead.”

GasGas team-mate Sam Sunderland, who won the Dakar Rally in 2017 with sister marque KTM, was among those who struck trouble with navigation.

The Briton set the eighth-fastest stage time but is sixth overall, 15:56s behind Sanders.

“The first proper day is done and it’s safe to say that we went straight in at the deep end,” said Sunderland.

“My navigation was good all day but when we got to Kilometre 276, there was a waypoint which was really difficult to find. A few of us went around in circles but once I found it, my only option was to push as hard as I could to make up for lost time.

“It’s been a tough first day but there’s such a long way to go; hopefully tomorrow will go a little more smoothly.”

Sanders is due to set off for Stage 2 this afternoon (AEDT).

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