Sunderland becomes first British winner of the Dakar

Picture: Red Bull

Sam Sunderland became the first British competitor to win the Dakar Rally when he took victory on Saturday.

The 27-year-old from Dorset came home 32 minutes ahead of nearest competitor Matthias Walkner of Austria after the final stage in Argentina.

The KTM rider, who is based in Dubai, took the lead after stage five of 12. The 38th edition of the rally began in Asuncion, Paraguay and ran through Bolivia and Argentina.

In 2014, Sunderland became the first British rider to win a stage of Dakar since John Deacon in 1998.

This was his third attempt at winning the rally, having been forced to retire in 2012 and 2014 with mechanical problems. The 2016 winner, Toby Price of Australia, pulled out of this year’s race during the fourth stage after a big crash.

“When I crossed the line I felt all the emotion hit me. The weight on my shoulders of the race over the last week, leading the rally, has been really heavy,” said Sunderland.

“It’s been difficult, especially in some of the moments with navigation mistakes or when things get stressful, to stay calm. But we’re here, we did it, and I couldn’t be any happier.’‘

Sunderland secured victory after safely navigating the final special stage, a 40-mile race into the Argentine town of Rio Cuarto.

Picture: Red Bull
Picture: Red Bull
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