Rallye

Daniel Sanders Confirmed For 2023 Dakar Rally

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Photo of Dakar Rally rider Daniel Sanders
Daniel Sanders returns to Dakar following a long recovery from an elbow injury sustained in the final stages of the 2022 Dakar. Photo: Sebas Romero

Daniel Sanders has been confirmed as a starter for the 2023 Dakar Rally alongside GasGas teammate Sam Sunderland who will be fighting to defend his Dakar title.

With unquestionable speed, especially over the dunes seen on the first week of the 2022 Dakar Rally, Daniel Sanders was well on course to fight for a podium result. Disappointingly, the crash that ruled him out of the event resulted in a fractured elbow and wrist – injuries that unfortunately took longer than anticipated to heal. Despite requiring several extra surgeries throughout the year, Sanders is now close to full fitness and once again has his sights on Dakar success.

Photo of Dakar Rally rider Daniel Sanders
With two Dakar stage wins in 2022 Victorian Daniel Sanders will be once again gunning for stage wins and overall victory. Photo: Sebas Romero

Earning two stage wins at the 2022 event, the Australian comes into the upcoming Dakar with more experience, a better understanding of what to expect from the punishing terrain, and also the skills and confidence required to open stages during the two-week race. With very little pressure on his shoulders, Sanders will be aiming to shake things up in his own unique way when the start flag drops in just over one month’s time.

“After this year’s Dakar and of course crashing on stage seven, it’s been a long year of surgeries and trying to get my body back in shape,” Sanders explained. “I had a lot of bad luck with my recovery and things not healing up so good, but thankfully it’s all looking good now and I’ve been able to get back on the bike. It’s going to be a challenge going into one of the toughest races in the world without much time on the bike. The focus up to now has been to get my elbow strong enough to make it through Dakar and the rest of the 2023 season. The team have been great, and I’m getting stronger all the time. It’s a little daunting with the Dakar being my first race back after a season off, but my plan is to take it day-by-day and hopefully build things up as the event goes on. It’s a long race, but the goal is to definitely be well in the fight at the finish.”

Photo of Dakar Rally rider Sam Sunderland
Brit Sam Sunderland will be looking for two wins in a row after taking victory in 2022. Photo: Sebas Romero

Sam Sunderalnd’s 2022 Dakar Rally victory was the start of a hugely successful year for the Brit. Following on from the Dakar, he headed to the United Arab Emirates for round two of the world championship and promptly stamped his authority there with another convincing win.

A top-five result at the Rallye du Maroc put Sunderland within reach of his second career world title. And with another strong showing at the final round in Spain, where the RX 450F racer rode to another calculated fifth-place finish, the job was done and Sam was crowned 2022 FIM World Rally-Raid Champion.

Now, already deep into his training program and focused on the major task ahead of him – his Dakar Rally title defense – Sam is fully aware of the challenge that awaits. But as always, the two-time Dakar winner will give his absolute all and fight hard for the win at the world’s toughest rally.

“This season has been incredible,” Sunderalnd reflected. “To get the double – the Dakar win and the world championship – has been amazing. It’s taken a lot of work, both by me and the whole team, but it’s paid off massively. Now, going into the 2023 Dakar I know exactly what it takes to win. When I first won the race back in 2017, I put myself under a lot of pressure to win again a year later. The 2023 race is looking to be one of the toughest ever and I’m under no illusion as to what that means. My mindset is a little different now – my plan is to go out there and enjoy it, take each day as it comes and try to maintain a good pace throughout the whole event. Hopefully near the end of the two weeks we should be in a good place to battle for the top positions once again.”

The 2023 Dakar Rally gets underway on Saturday, 31 December 2022

Photo of Dakar Rally rider Daniel Sanders
Sanders (Front) and Sunderland are ready to go in 2023. Photo: Sebas Romero

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