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Sunderland holds rally lead on penultimate day

One to go and still holding strong at the top of the results! Thanks to his impressive pace, and a decent helping of grit and determination, Sam Sunderland has safely completed the penultimate stage of the 2022 Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge in ninth place, maintaining his lead at the top of the overall timesheets. As the second rider into the 243km special, Sam did a superb job, losing the minimum amount of time to his chasing rivals, and producing a near mistake-free stage while pushing hard for just over three hours of racing.

  • Sam leads overall standings by 23 seconds
  • GASGAS RC 450F performs perfectly in the dunes
  • 371km final day of racing remains

Sam Sunderland:“Day four done, and I’m still in the overall lead, but it looks like things are really close at the top, just like Dakar. It was a tough stage again today with lots of rocky pistes and some big dunes. I caught Matthias (Walkner) around kilometer 80 and then rode with him for most of the day – he was doing a really good job of opening, so I just kept to a good, solid pace myself. It feels good to ride together like that and to be honest, I’ve been feeling a lot stronger in general as the race goes on. At the beginning of the event I felt a bit rough, but over the last couple of stages I’ve really found my rhythm and got into the swing of it. I’m happy with the bike and physically feeling good for the last stage, so we’ll see how we go.”

It was tough out there – it always is in the FIM Rally-Raid World Championship – but setting off near the front, Sam knew he had to get his head down and complete the stage without any mistakes to carry his race lead into the final day.

After catching up to Matthias Walkner, who had topped the previous day, the pace at the front was good enough for Sam to be able to take extra care over his navigation and ensure an accurate and safe passage through the challenging timed special. Arriving at the finish as ninth-fastest for the day, our 2022 Dakar Champ not only earned himself a really strong start position for the short 209km final special on Thursday, but was also able to maintain his overall lead in the event standings. However, with just 23 seconds now separating the top two, Sam will still need to go full gas on tomorrow’s final stage back to Abu Dhabi.

2022 Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge – Stage 4 Provisional Classification
1. Luciano Benavides (Husqvarna) 3:04:10
2. Toby Price (KTM) 3:04:42
3. Pablo Quintanilla (Honda) 3:05:14
9. Sam Sunderland (GASGAS) 3:09:40

2022 Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge – Provisional Overall Classification [After Stage 4]
1. Sam Sunderland (GASGAS) 14:33:27
2. Pablo Quintanilla (Honda) 14:33:50
3. Toby Price (KTM) 14:35:09

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