Sunderland secured first Dakar Rally win in GASGAS Factory Racing history
January 17, 2022
By Keaton Maisano
For more than four decades, riders have dashed across deserts and difficult terrain to compete for the top spot in the Dakar Rally, but it wasn’t until the end of 2022’s 12-day event that the GASGAS Factory Racing team stood atop the podium — an achievement delivered by Sam Sunderland.
While he finished eighth in the final stage of the race, Sunderland’s riding throughout the grueling trek left him with some time to spare. In the end, his Stage 12 performance secured a time of 38:47:30 — more than three minutes better than the next best rider — and the 2022 Dakar Rally title.
“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 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 makes 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.”
While a first for GASGAS, Sunderland is no stranger to success at the Dakar Rally, winning the event in 2017 for the first time.
Sunderland’s win also continued the longstanding success of the KTM AG Company at the annual rally. The company has secured 19 wins in the last 22 years of the event.
Beyond Sunderland’s performance, GASGAS Factory Racing also saw Daniel Sanders excel at Dakar 2022. Sanders laid claim to a pair of stage wins before a crash on Stage 7 forced him out of the race. He is expected to be back for Dakar 2023 when GASGAS is hoping to emulate the success of 2022.
With Sanders sparking the early momentum and Sunderland outlasting the competition, Dakar 2022 proved to be a memorable one for the GASGAS team.
“Amazing, simply amazing! This Dakar was a really challenging race, right until the very end, so to win, it’s an incredible achievement,” Rally Team Manager Norbert Stadlbauer said. “Throughout the whole event Sam was smart, strong, and his speed was exceptional. I’m really happy for him and the whole of GASGAS Factory Racing. The entire team has worked so hard to be successful and it’s a really special moment. There’s no feeling like it. I’d like to thank all of the team’s sponsors and partners, everyone in Austria, and now, after two tough weeks, it’s time to celebrate!”