Sam Sunderland has won the 2022 Dakar Rally after finishing eighth in the final stage while final stage winner Pablo Quintanilla finished runner up overall with Matthias Walkner rounding out the overall podium.
Quintanilla, who started the morning in second place in the general standings, 6’52” behind Sunderland, attempted to close the gap over the 150 kilometres of timed special involving some tricky, fast-paced navigation. Ultimately Quintanilla earned the final stage victory, finishing 3’27” short of clinching the outright Dakar 2022 title from Sunderland.
Leading the race from stage two through to the end of stage six, the 45th Dakar began perfectly for Sunderland. Riding flawlessly throughout the two-week event, the Brit delivered the goods on multiple occasions when the pressure was well and truly on.
“Wow. What a feeling! That 10-minute period waiting at the end of the final stage to see if I’d won felt like a lifetime,” Sunderland, now a two-time winner said. “But this feeling, knowing I’ve won a second Dakar, will stay in my memory forever. This win feels better than the first as this victory was anything but easy. The times were so close this year and there was no time to let off the gas, it was a really close race, right to the end. All of the hard work, the sacrifices, and everything that the GASGAS team has done for me make it all worthwhile. It’s been five years since my first Dakar win, and it’s been a long time to wait! I’m super happy to get another win and claim the first one for GASGAS. Everyone on the team has worked so hard to achieve this and it’s a true team effort – together we got the job done. Amazing.”
Monster Energy Honda Team’s Chilean rider Pablo Quintanilla wrapped up the 2022 Dakar Rally today in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, in a well-deserved second place.
“I am very happy with the result and my performance throughout the whole race, especially during the second week, which I managed well, making uptime with a steady performance,” Quintanilla said. “I am very pleased and I wish to thank the whole Monster Energy Honda Team for their incredible work over these weeks. It was a really tough race, with a lot of tension, but I’m happy. Today there was second place at stake and there was even a chance of winning the race. It didn’t turn out that way, but I’m still happy with the second-place finish. Now it’s time to enjoy this moment.”
Lying third going in the final day of racing, Matthias Walkner put in a superb performance to finish seventh fastest and secure his overall podium result. After covering more than 8,000 kilometers, the top three motorcycle class finishers were separated by just under seven minutes, such was the closeness of competition at this year’s event. Walkner’s third-place finish is the Austrian’s fourth Dakar podium, as he adds the hard-fought result to his 2021 FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship title, in what has been an incredible 12 months of racing for the experienced 35-year-old.
“I feel super happy and also lucky to be here healthy at the finish line,” Walkner said. “It feels great to be back on the podium too after a couple of difficult Dakars the past two years. It’s been a super long and hard Dakar as always, but this year has been special because of the level of navigation needed every day. We saw right from the first day that you can win or lose so much time on each stage. Because of that I really tried to focus on my roadbook, and concentrate on my navigation for the whole race. The first week went really well for me, and then into the second week, everyone was pushing really hard, so you had to give your best every day as the times were so close. The new bike has been brilliant, and the team have put so much effort into making sure we had the performance needed to finish on the podium, so thank you to them. Now it’s time to celebrate!”
Equalling his best overall finish at the Dakar, Adrien Van Beveren placed an impressive fourth overall at the 2022 edition of the iconic event. Leading the race on two separate occasions this year and placing no lower than fourth overall throughout the entire rally, the Frenchman was undoubtedly in fine form throughout the competition.
“The race is over and I have mixed feelings about it, but on the whole, it has been a really positive race for myself and the team,” Van Beveren said. “I’m really happy to have finished the race, the first time since 2017, so I’m really pleased about that. But on the other hand, it looked certain that I would podium or maybe even take the win. But with the issue yesterday, that’s just part of rally racing and it wasn’t meant to be. I’m really happy for the team. Everyone has worked super hard and my bike was amazing. I have no regrets about anything and I gave it everything that I had. To be fighting for the win at the Dakar, it was an amazing experience and now I’m looking forward to the future.”
Spain’s Joan Barreda, fourth on the final stage, finished fifth overall, equalling the result he achieved in 2017.
“The result of this Dakar is a fifth place with a broken collarbone from a week ago and after losing 40 minutes at a waypoint on the first day,” Barreda said. “I’ve kept the mentality and the ambition that I’ve had all year, in spite of the adversities. Not giving up and going all the way to the finish. In racing sometimes things go well and other times not so well. But the important thing for me has been to be able to show all the hard work that’s been done. We’ve been working for seven months for the Dakar, now it’s time to rest a bit and then we’ll think about the new goals, knowing that the ambition and motivation has to be 100%. In this Dakar, every day that I’ve been on the bike I’ve had unique sensations.”
José Ignacio Cornejo, third on the stage today, consolidated his sixth place in the final rally classification.
“I am satisfied to have finished the Dakar like this, but not in the overall balance, because, although I recovered several positions this last week, the mistake early in the race conditioned the end,” Cornejo said. “I think I should have been further ahead. This year it was our turn to suffer, but we will be back again. The team, in general, was very solid and I want to congratulate all my teammates for the great work done these days.”
If not for a frustrating navigational error on stage one, which affected him as well as many of his rivals, Andrew Short may well have joined his teammate in the top five overall. After losing considerable time early on, the 39-year-old was faultless through the remaining stages at the Dakar as he worked his way up the leaderboard. At the end of 12 stages and almost 40 hours of racing, Andrew secured eighth overall, narrowly missing out on placing seventh by just five seconds.
“I’m so happy to have reached the finish line. The Dakar is such a crazy race that finishing is a great achievement in itself,” Short said. “The final stage was pretty cool, a bit tight a twisty with some nice terrain. Before the rally I hoped to finish higher and it wasn’t through lack of effort or anything – it was solely down to the issue I had on stage one. I did the best I could after that but that’s just how rally is sometimes. The team have been amazing. They built a great bike for me, which didn’t miss a beat all race and I’m happy that we had two guys in the top 10.”
Following a tough start to this year’s event when a navigation issue on stage one cost him a considerable amount of time, Toby Price delivered day after day of solid results to fight his way back into the top-10 overall. Placing as second quickest on the final day of racing, together with his stage win on day 10, shows that the two-time Dakar Champion has lost none of his speed or motivation. Happy to safely complete the 2022 event without injury.
“I’m always happy to reach the finish here at the Dakar, it’s been a really tough race this year,” Price said. “Losing time on that first day put me on the back foot a little for the rest of the stages, and the way things are now, any mistakes can lose you a lot of time on the others because things are so close. The terrain here in Saudi makes for a really fast race too, a lot of the stages are sprints to the finish, but the atmosphere is good and it’s a good place to be. I’m excited for 2023 already!”
With the conclusion of the 2022 Dakar, most teams and riders will now look ahead to the remainder of the 2022 FIM World Rally-Raid Championship.
STAGE 12 (FINAL) TOP 20 RESULTS
TOP 20 OVERALL STANDINGS FOLLOWING STAGE 12 (FINAL RESULTS)