Sanders, Sunderland both ruled out of Abu Dhabi W2RC round

Daniel Sanders

Daniel Sanders

Daniel Sanders and Dakar-winning GasGas team-mate Sam Sunderland have both been ruled out of the Abu Dhabi round of the FIM World Rally-Raid Championship due to injury.

Sanders finished seventh in last month’s Dakar Rally in what was his first event back after breaking an elbow in the 2022 edition of the event, despite battling illness and the pain of a thorn stuck in his arm.

The Australian said in the days afterward, “I seriously don’t know how I finished everyday,” but was not fit enough to ride in the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge.

“After gritting his teeth and pulling through with a courageous seventh place finish at the Dakar, it turns out that the Aussie’s elbow injury from 2022 isn’t 100 percent healed,” read an update from Red Bull GasGas Factory Racing.

“Now back home in Australia and doing all he can to fast-track his recovery, Sanders aims to return to racing later in the year.”

Sam Sunderland

Sam Sunderland

Sanders had been GasGas’s only finisher in Dakar 2023 after 2022 champion Sunderland broke a shoulder blade in a crash on the first stage, but the Briton was to have competed in next week’s Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge.

That was until he broke his right leg in a training crash ahead of the event.

“The Red Bull GasGas Factory Racing rider was taking part in the team’s final training ride before the second round of the FIM World Rally-Raid Championship when he came over a dune to find a soft pocket of sand,” read a subsequent update from the team.

“The impact resulted in the British rider breaking the lower tibia on his right leg, and in turn ruled him out of next week’s race.”

Sunderland is not the only Dakar champion out of the Abu Dhabi round due to a pre-race crash, with Red Bull KTM’s Kevin Benavides breaking his right femur.

The Prologue takes place tomorrow while Round 3, Mexico’s Sonora Rally, starts on April 22.

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