Rallye

Broken Ankle Rules Sam Sunderland Out Of 2023 Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge

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Photo of 2023 Dakar rally rider Sam Sunderland
Defending FIM World Rally-Raid Champion Sam Sunderland will miss the 2023 Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge. Photo: RallyZone

Sam Sunderland has been injured while taking part in his 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, ruling the Brit out of the 2023 Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge.

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.

Despite working his absolute hardest to return to full fitness following his stage-one withdrawal from the Dakar Rally, in a cruel twist of fate, a hard impact while testing for the ADDC has put another unwelcome pause on Sunderland’s world championship title defense.

Although Sunderland did initially consider taking part in the five-stage event next week, in his own words, he wouldn’t be able to push anywhere near his maximum and could risk further damage to his ankle. As such, the two-time Dakar Champion has taken the difficult decision to not race the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge – an event the former Dubai resident has won three times.

Sunderland hopes to be fully healed and back racing by round three of the world championship, where he will join teammate Daniel Sanders in Mexico.

Norbert Stadlbauer – Rally Team Manager – said, “The news of Sam’s injury has come as a terrible blow to the whole Red Bull GASGAS Factory Racing team. He was putting in a final test before the event, came over a dune and landed in a hole which resulted in him breaking his ankle. It’s such a shame for Sam, especially after all the hard work he has put in to be fit for this race after missing out on the Dakar. This unfortunately means GASGAS will not be represented at this second round of the world championship. But we’re already looking ahead to round three and having both our boys back on their bikes. The whole team wishes Sam all the best and a speedy recovery.”

Photo of 2023 Dakar rally rider Sam Sunderland
It has not been a good year for Sam Sunderland after he also missed 90 percent of the 2023 Dakar with an injury. Photo: RallyZone

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