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Sunderland airlifted out of Dakar

After all the hard work, testing, training, and preparation that went into his Dakar Rally title defense, Sam Sunderland’s race came to a premature and frustrating end today, the Brit crashing just 52 kilometers into stage one. Leading the special briefly before the incident, the Red Bull GASGAS Factory Racing star was airlifted to hospital in Yanbu where he was diagnosed with a broken shoulder blade.

Sunderland in action today, leading before he fell

Sunderland said: “I am more or less OK, a broken shoulder blade, big hematoma on my back and a concussion. I feel quite embarrassed to be laid here typing this out, being out of Dakar on day one is a tough pill to swallow, I want to first express my disappointment for my team who have worked so hard to give me the tools to defend this number 1 and deserve much more, also to my partners that support me. These moments are what make the victories so special, I felt really good this morning and was leading for the short part of the stage I rode then I have missed a stone under the sand in a river bed and had a pretty violent crash. Thank you Matthias Walkner for stopping to help me and to the medical crew for making sure I was safe. I will try to learn from this and I hope my teammates can bring home the result the team deserve. “

Sam Sunderland on his way to hospital

Norbert Stadlbauer – GASGAS Rally Team Manager: “Unfortunately, Sam crashed out of the race today after hitting a rock around 52 kilometers into the opening stage. He’s broken his shoulder blade and has a concussion so his time here at the Dakar is sadly over. It’s such a shame that this has happened as I know he had high hopes of making it back-to-back wins and we are lucky that he was not more seriously injured. It’s disappointing for sure but this is how racing goes sometimes. We are really pleased with Daniel’s performance today after he was off the bike for so long. The team wishes Sam a fast and full recovery, and we look forward to the rest of the rally with Daniel flying the flag for Red Bull GASGAS Factory Racing.”

Results (provisional): Dakar Rally 2023, stage 1
1. Ricky Brabec (Honda) 3:31:10
2. Kevin Benavides (KTM) 3:31:54
3. Mason Klein (KTM) 3:31:54
6. Daniel Sanders (GASGAS) 3:33:00

Overall Provisional Classification (after stage 1)
1. Ricky Brabec (Honda) 4:14:10
2. Kevin Benavides (KTM) 4:14:29
3. Toby Price (KTM) 4:14:49
5. Daniel Sanders (GASGAS) 4:14:55