Desert Racing

Sam Sunderland Racers To Narrow Lead As 2015 Dakar Gets Underway

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British Speedster Sam Sunderland delivered on his promise at the end of an opening special just 175 km long, beating Paulo Gon̤alves (Honda) by a slim margin to claim KTM's first win of the year.

Despite a streak of bad luck during his first two Dakar starts with Honda, Sam Sunderland showed glimpses of his speed when he took the second stage of the 2014 edition. He made good on this promise during today's opening stage from Buenos Aires to Villa Carlos Paz, in which he took his second stage win in the biggest rally on Earth.

Reunited with his KTM after its transatlantic crossing, the Englishman masterfully used his motorcycle's qualities to steal the thunder from teammate Marc Coma, who finished the stage over a minute back. He now has good reason to reassess his goals, although the 25-year-old knows that the race is long and the competition will be fierce.

"It's difficult to judge your strategy based on the first day because you still don't know who's pulled out all the stops." Sunderland said. "It's also important not to go all in, you've got to leave something for the other stages. However, I think I had a good special and that's always a reason to be happy.

"The bike didn't miss a beat, it was very fast and I probably posted a good time. I'm a contender... for the first day. I hope I'm also a contender at the end, but we've only covered 175 kilometres and there's still a long road before us."


Stage 1 - Car/Bike - Stage Summary - (Buenos... by Dakar

Paulo Gon̤alves, for instance, wants to make amends in South America. The Portuguese 2013 rally world champion broke down in tears when his Honda burst into flames during the fifth stage of the 2014 Dakar.

With a narrow five-second deficit to Sunderland after the inaugural stage, Gon̤alves is determined to do well, just like Coma, who aims to crush pretenders to his throne. The Spaniard, third in today's stage, will not have to deal with Cyril Despres, but he will have to keep a watchful eye on fourth-placed Joan Barreda.

Alain Duclos and his Sherco finished in fifth place, two minutes behind the winner but ahead of JeremÌ_as Israel and fellow countryman David Casteu. There was also a stunning rookie performance by motocross rider Matthias Walkner, who clinched a solid eighth place in today's warm-up stage, while Olivier Pain and Jordi Viladoms were extra cautious and conceded over 3'30?.
Australian Toby Price got his first Dakar experience off to a great start, finishing the opening stage in 11th position - Credit: RallyZone Bauer/Barni
Australian Toby Price got his first Dakar experience off to a great start, finishing the opening stage in 11th position, just 3 minutes and 31 second behind Sunderland.

"Today went really well, I'm still just learning at the moment and the navigation wasn't to hard today, we ended up 11th today after the first stage so I'm stoked!" Price commented via his facebook page.

"Tomorrow is the longest stage of ?#?Dakar2015? 518km, the first 300km look a little tricky but fairly fast with some technical navigation sections judging from my road book. I hope everyone is well back home in Australia!" he added.

Australian Expat father and son combination of Llewellyn and Simon Pavey finished the day in 84th and 85th respectivley just over 22 minutes behind the leader, while the fourth Aussie in this years race, Clayton Jacobsen finished the day in 129th position.

Stage 2 will see riders travel from Villa Carlos Paz to San Juan and include 107 km liaison and 518 km of time racing for a total of 625 km for the day.

Standings After Stage 1
1. Sam Sunderland (GBR) - 1h18m57s
2. Paulo Gonvcalves (PRT) +00:00:05
3. Marc Coma (ESP) +00:01:12
4. Joan Barreda (ESP) +00:01:41
5. Alain Duclos (FRA) +00:02:08
6. Jeremias Israel Esquerre (CHL) +00:02:16
7. David Casteu (FRA) +00:02:36
8. Matthias Walkner (AUT) +00:02:42
9. Pablo Quntanilla (CHL) +00:02:58
10. Ruben Faria (PRT) +00:03:02
11. Toby Price (AUS) +00:03:31
84. LLewellyn Sullivan-Pavey (AUS) +00:22:04
85. Simon Pavey (AUS) +00:22:10
129. Clayton Jacobsen (AUS) +00:36:05

Top Image: Sam Sunderland has taken the early lead in the 2015 Dakar Rally

Credit: RallyZone Bauer/Barni

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