Sam Sunderland, using his vast experience, chose to maintain a solid but steady pace through the first half of the race, with the Brit lying sixth overall at the halfway point. Increasing his pace after the rest day, and taking the challenge to those ahead of him, the KTM 450 RALLY rider placed third overall by day seven and moved up to second on the penultimate stage.
In winning stage 11, Sam had the unenviable task of opening the 12th and final timed special. Trailing rally leader Kevin Benavides by five minutes going into the stage, the 2017 Dakar winner had no option but to push as hard as he dared during the final 200km as he raced against the clock. Unfortunately, a small error that resulted in him losing almost 10 minutes ended Sunderland‰Ûªs charge for the win. Despite the set-back, Sam safely arrived at the finish to claim an impressive third place overall. Although disappointed not to have secured a second career win for himself, the Brit was happy with how his race had gone.
‰ÛÏI did my best over the whole rally, so I can‰Ûªt be too disappointed, I guess," Sunderland reflected. "It was always going to be hard setting off first this morning and I knew I had to push hard to make up those minutes. I couldn‰Ûªt find one waypoint early on in the dunes and lost far too much time trying to find it. There is always a fine balance and when you push your speed, the navigation can lose out. I‰Ûªm super happy as I know I gave it my all. The other guys did a great job and after what was such a tough event with several crashes and people being forced to retire with technical issues, I‰Ûªm glad to be here safe at the finish line and in third place. I honestly think that has been one of the toughest races I have ever done ‰ÛÒ the pace at the top is so high, we‰Ûªre having to fight every single day and there is no time to relax. Congratulations to all those who finished and get well soon to those who crashed out.‰Û