Sunderland extends Dakar lead as Sanders, Price struggle

Daniel Sanders

GasGas Factory Racing’s Sam Sunderland has extended his overall lead in the Dakar Rally despite finishing seventh on Stage 4.

Despite a tactical picnic stop on Stage 3 which ensured he would not have to open the road for the longest special of the event, Australian Daniel Sanders steadily lost time relative to the day’s front-runners on the other GasGas entry.

Sunderland now leads the rally by exactly three minutes, with Red Bull KTM’s Matthias Walkner moving into second and Monster Energy Yamaha’s Adrien Van Beveren slipping to third at another 1:54s off the pace.

Sanders is fourth overall, 7:07s back from his team-mate even after clocking only the 18th-fastest stage time, because a 10-minute penalty from earlier in the event was withdrawn upon protest by GasGas.

Red Bull KTM’s Toby Price slipped to 16th overall after being 30th-quickest on the special.

Monster Energy Honda’s Joan Barreda Bort picked up his second stage win of the rally, but Tech3 KTM’s Danilo Petrucci was one of the biggest stories of the day.

The MotoGP racer turned Dakar rookie was fastest to each of the first three waypoints, 120km into the 465km special between Al Qaisumah and Riyadh, before ceding the ascendancy to Barreda.

The Spaniard was quickest for the rest of the journey, taking the finish line 4:37s up on team-mate Pablo Quintanilla, while Petrucci ended up third at 6:53s off the pace.

UPDATE: Petrucci penalised

Rounding out the top five for the stage were Sherco TVS riders Rui Goncalves and Lorenzo Santolino.

Sunderland was only seventh-fastest on Stage 4 but, crucially, Walkner was one position and 90 seconds worse off, and Van Beveren was almost five minutes slower than the Briton.

Sanders lost at least a minute relative to the day’s front-runners between most waypoints, setting a time 18:28s away from Barreda’s and 8:13s away from Sunderland’s.

CLICK HERE for reaction from Sanders, who faceplanted during the stage

Compatriot Price saw his last two days of gains almost completely wiped out when he gave up 17:15s relative to Sunderland.

The two-time Dakar champion faced the challenge of being second onto the road, and had already dropped 10 minutes compared to Petrucci in the first 120km.

Price is now 43:26s away from the rally lead.

CLICK HERE for Price reaction

Petrucci is currently showing as 70th overall courtesy of a big penalty for failing to make the finish of an earlier stage due to a technical problem.

The third Australian in the Bikes field, Andrew Houlihan (Nomadas Adventure KTM), is still completing the stage.

CLICK HERE for Houlihan’s daily diary entry

Next up is a loop around Riyadh which includes a 346km special.

CLICK HERE for extended highlights of Stage 4

General classification: Bikes Top 10

Pos Rider Nat Team Time/Gap
1 Sam Sunderland GBR GasGas Factory Team 15:30:01
2 Matthias Walkner AUT Red Bull KTM Factory Team +0:03:00
3 Adrien Van Beveren FRA Monster Energy Yamaha Rally Team +0:04:54
4 Daniel Sanders AUS GasGas Factory Team +0:07:07
5 Lorenzo Santolino ESP Sherco TVS Rally Factory +0:10:28
6 Pablo Quintanilla CHI Monster Energy Honda Team 2022 +0:11:13
7 Joan Barreda Bort ESP Monster Energy Yamaha Rally Team +0:13:12
8 Skyler Howes USA Husqvarna Factory Racing +0:15:16
9 Stefan Svitko SVK Slovnaft Rally Team +0:20:42
10 Kevin Benavides ARG Red Bull KTM Factory Team +0:25:12
16 Toby Price AUS Red Bull KTM Factory Team +0:43:36

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