We’ve seen a huge variety of nationalities thrive at the Dakar, but Red Bull KTM rider Sam Sunderland is the first ever Brit to come out on top. With his win in and third place last time out to his name, the 30-year-old also has numerous stage wins and a track record of success at other events.
Sunderland will be competing on a Red Bull KTM 450.
Prior to his first Dakar in 2012, Sunderland won the UAE National Baja Championship in both 2010 and 2011. His first Dakar didn’t go smoothly, with mechanical issues forcing retirement, and he was also forced to abandon in 2014, 2015 and 2018.
Not one to crumble in the face of adversity, Sunderland persevered, taking a number of stage wins before coming out on top in 2017. Since then, he's also taken the final spot on the podium in 2019, with further stage wins along the way.
He's also coming off the back of an excellent 2019, which saw him crowned FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Champion, as well as winning the Silk Way Rally and the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge.
Outside of his Red Bull KTM team-mates, Sunderland’s biggest rival is arguably Pablo Quintanilla, who finished one place behind Sunderland at last year’s event. We’re sure the Chilean rider will be out to improve on that, so Sunderland will have a battle on his hands for a podium finish.
In his words
“I'm really happy to have won the world championship [FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship], to get it done for the team,” Sunderland tells Dakar.com. “I'd come second twice (first loser mate) so it was a bit frustrating. It's always hard to get a whole season put together without any mistakes. Luckily the bike's always strong, I've never had any mechanical issues. One Dakar in the pocket, one world championship in the pocket, it feels good. But I want to get another Dakar for sure.”
Chances of success
Having enjoyed wins and podium spots along with crashes and mechanical failures, Sunderland has certainly experienced the highs and lows of the Dakar. On his day he’s capable of taking on the best, and he's coming into the event in the form of his career, so expect to see him battling it out at the front of the race.