GasGas enters history with the victory of Sam Sunderland in the 2022 Dakar Rally | sports
Sam Sunderland (Poole, Great Britain, 32 years old) is the winner of the 2022 Dakar Rally, the third to be held in Saudi Arabia. He did it in the last kilometers of the race and got on a GasGas, a motorcycle of Spanish origin. The Briton, who already won the Dakar in 2017, when it was raced in South America, regained the overall lead on the penultimate stage. And after the strategy outlined by his team a day earlier was proven to be a masterstroke.
Sunderland, like his KTM colleague Matthias Walkner, both well positioned in the standings to claim the title, gave up Wednesday’s stage, a fast and relatively easy 375-kilometer special, to seek a good starting position on the special. Thursday, which was always said would be the hardest of this edition, the 44th. Usually, winning a stage has a counterpart: opening the track the next day. And in some cases it pays dearly.
The drivers and teams, alerted as they were in advance of the difficulty of that eleventh timed event, with a lot of soft sand and many dunes, as well as a complex navigation, played with the times of that day. Guys like Sunderland or Walkner, who had a great pace all morning, slowed down on the last stage. And they let up to fifteen rivals pass them. The following day, Thursday, Sunderland started from 17th position. And, driven by his sensational speed – a motocross and country rally rider, he is one of the fastest in the race – he pulled off a triumphant comeback. Once again the leader of the general classification, Sunderland entered the last stage with a seven-minute margin over Pablo Quintalilla (Honda), second, and Walkner (KTM), third.
That would be the final podium of the Dakar in 2022, in which the Austrian factory KTM, which acquired the Spanish company GasGas in 2019, has regained power in the Dakar Rally. Dominant for years in the motorcycle category, the Japanese Honda prevailed in the last two editions, both disputed in Arab lands. This time, and despite having some of its riders very well placed, such as the Chilean Quintanilla or the Spanish Joan Barreda, the Honda team failed in the planning of the strategy, quite the opposite of KTM.
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