Sunderland into Dakar lead as Sanders gets lost

Daniel Sanders

Sam Sunderland has taken over the lead of the Dakar Rally from GasGas team-mate Daniel Sanders after the Australian got lost on Stage 2.

It was in fact Monster Energy Honda’s Joan Barreda Bort who prevailed on the 338km special between Ha’il and Al Qaisumah, with a sizeable margin over the rest of the Bikes field of 5:33s.

However, Sunderland was next-best on the day and now sits 2:51s clear of Monster Energy Yamaha’s Adrian Van Beveren in the general classification.

Sanders is still third overall, at just 3:29s off the pace of the other GasGas Factory Racing entry, despite clocking the 23rd-fastest stage time.

Compatriot Toby Price, who had navigational dramas of his own on Stage 1B, was only fifth-fastest on Stage 2 but is now 32:48s away from the overall lead in 15th overall, almost 15 minutes closer than he had been at the beginning of the day.

Furthermore, the Red Bull KTM rider does not have a particularly high position in the road order for the next stage of the rally.

CLICK HERE for reaction from Price

Sanders did have that burden on Stage 2, by virtue of his win on the prior special, and was already losing multiple minutes by the first waypoint, at Kilometre 40.

Further into the stage, he found himself off-route and dropping even more minutes, before reaching the finish line in a time 24:58s slower than the day’s best.

CLICK HERE for reaction from Sanders

That benchmark, of course, belonged to Barreda, who was second-fastest initially before taking over a lead which he would not relinquish from Sherco TVS’s Rui Goncalves.

However, having been only 17th after he was one of many to get lost in the same area on Stage 1B, Barreda is back up only to 10th overall, 20:25s behind Sunderland.

Toby Price

Similarly, Red Bull KTM’s Kevin Benavides was third-fastest on Stage 2 but the 2021 champion is 11th overall, another 22 seconds in arrears of Barreda.

On the other hand, Van Beveren got to second overall with just the eighth-best stage time.

Rounding out the stage top five was Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Skyler Howes and two-time Dakar champion Price, whose day appeared solid if unspectacular as he went seven minutes slower than Barreda on the special.

In the overall top five, Sunderland, Van Beveren, and Sanders are followed by Red Bull KTM’s Matthias Walkner and Howes.

Monster Energy Honda’s Ricky Brabec, the 2020 Dakar champion, only gained around seven minutes relative to the overall lead and is 22nd for the event so far, 53:51s off the pace.

MotoGP race winner Danilo Petrucci failed to make the finish due to an apparent technical issue for his Tech3 KTM entry, while Australian Andrew Houlihan is up slightly to 114th overall on his Nomadas Adventure KTM.

CLICK HERE for Houlihan’s daily diary entry

As it turned out, Goncalves’ early pace was due to missing waypoints, and he would be given a 15-minute penalty.

Stage 3 is a 255km special near Al Qaisumah, the first part of which is very sand-heavy.

CLICK HERE for extended highlights of Stage 2

General classification: Bikes Top 10

Pos Rider Nat Team Time/Gap
1 Sam Sunderland GBR GasGas Factory Team 08:31:29
2 Adrien Van Beveren FRA Monster Energy Yamaha Rally Team +0:02:51
3 Daniel Sanders AUS GasGas Factory Team +0:03:29
4 Matthias Walkner AUT Red Bull KTM Factory Team +0:04:08
5 Skyler Howes USA Husqvarna Factory Racing +0:09:59
6 Lorenzo Santolino ESP Sherco TVS Rally Factory +0:10:55
7 Pablo Quintanilla CHI Monster Energy Honda Team 2022 +0:12:31
8 Stefan Svitko SVK Slovnaft Rally Team +0:17:39
9 Aaron Mare RSA Hero Motosports Team Rally +0:18:41
10 Joan Barreda Bort ESP Monster Energy Honda Team 2022 +0:20:25
15 Toby Price AUS Red Bull KTM Factory Team +0:32:48

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