N°1 Bike RED BULL GASGAS FACTORY RACING
driver
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SAM SUNDERLAND

(gbr) 1.79m / 75kg

Hobbies

Cycling, free diving

Sponsors

Red Bull, GasGas, Airoh helmets, USWE, Mototransport, Fox

2022: 1st (one stage win)
2021: 3rd (one stage win)
2020: Ab. Stage 5
2019: 3rd (two stage wins)
2018: Ab. Stage 4 (two stage wins)
2017: 1st (one stage win)
2015: Ab. Stage 4 (one stage win)
2014: Ab. Stage 4 (one stage win)
2012: Ab. Stage 3

2022: World Rally-Raid Championship (1st): Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge (1st), Rallye du Maroc (5th), Andalucia Rally (5th)
2021: Rally Kazakhstan (Ab.), Rallye du Maroc (Ab.)
2020: Andalucia Rally (Ab.)
2019: FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship (1st): Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge (1st), Silk Way Rally (1st), Atamaca Rally (2nd), Rallye du Maroc (Ab.)
2018: Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge (2nd), Atacama Rally (Ab.), Rallye du Maroc (9th)
2017: Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge (1st), Qatar Cross-Country Rally (1st), Atacama Rally (4th), Desafio Ruta 40 (10th), OiLibya Rally of Morocco (Ab.)
2016: Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge (2nd), Qatar Cross-Country Rally (1st), OiLibya Rally of Morocco (2nd)
2015: OiLibya Rally of Morocco (1st)
2014: Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge (Ab.), Qatar Cross-Country Rally (Ab.), OiLibya Rally of Morocco (2nd), Rally Dos Sertoes (6th)
2013: Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge (3rd), OiLibya Rally of Morocco (5th), Merzouga Rally (1st)
2012: OiLibya Rally of Morocco (10th), Sardinia Rally (13th)
2011: Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge (Ab., two stage wins), Australasian Safari (Ab., three stage wins)

Interview

“Number 1 is a bit of a double-edged sword!”

For the second time in his career, Sam Sunderland is preparing to line up at the Dakar with the number 1 plate in the bikes, and he acknowledges that there are pros and cons to being the defending champion. The British star switched from the Red Bull KTM Factory team to their sister outfit GasGas just ahead of Dakar 2022, and that “little refresh”, as he described it, clearly had a big impact. As well as landing his second title at the world's toughest rally, the 33-year-old went on to dominate the inaugural World Rally-Raid Championship, also winning the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge and taking the W2RC crown by a handsome margin of 26 points from Ricky Brabec. After a long mid-season break, Sam had a bit of trouble finding his rhythm at the Rallye du Maroc -notably due to a sore wrist- but saw things out in style in Andalusia, celebrating the world title on the beach with his family- including brother-in-law Adrien Van Beveren, who took overall victory in southern Spain. There's no rest for the wicked, though; barely a week after crossing the finish line in Andalusia, Sam was back on the bike and preparing for Dakar. This will be his tenth participation in the rally -and every time he has finished, he has done so on the podium. When he was still a teenager in the UK, working as a lift engineer and racing his bike on the weekends, little could Sam have imagined that he would become the most successful British competitor in Dakar history. In 2009 he got an opportunity to move to Dubai when a local KTM dealer invited him to come and work in his shop and learn the art of desert racing. Fast forward two years and he was winning stages of the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge as an amateur, before signing factory deals with Honda and KTM and becoming the first British winner of the Dakar in 2017. When he lined up as number 1 in 2018, he was forced out with a back injury on Stage 4, so he'll be hoping for a bit more luck this time around as he looks to become just the seventh biker in history -after Cyril Neveu, Stephane Peterhansel, Edi Orioli, Richard Sainct, Cyril Despres and Marc Coma- to complete a Dakar hat-trick.

“We did a little pre-Dakar video shoot in Morocco there, and the bike was number 1. It gets you fired up, it brings back all the memories and emotions of the last Dakar, what you went through to earn that number. But it also comes with responsibilities and a target on your back. It's a bit of a double-edged sword! I'm happy with how it all went this season. A lot of the work was done at Dakar and in Abu Dhabi, before the long break. I don't like having too long off, because you get used to normal life again, and coming back to races is a bit hairy, you have to adapt. But I've had plenty of time in the desert, on the bike, getting comfortable again. Being the first bikes winner in W2RC will always be written down there on a bit of paper somewhere. Winning the Dakar three times, that's not an easy list to hop onto! I wasn't even sure I'd get on the two-time winner list. It's so hard, dude. You don't know what's coming your way, but you know there's always something. You'd better be ready and prepare the best you can, so when it comes you can deal with it. I haven't looked at the route too much, because it's so vague compared to the reality. You look at a squiggly line on a map, but it never has much to do with the 100 metres in front of you. I try not to give myself any ideas or hopes and just take what comes. I was in Dubai for 10 years and I really like the dunes, so the Empty Quarter should be cool. It's a bit of a lottery, nobody knows what's going to happen. But going from 12 to 14 stages shouldn't make too much difference, because you're already well into the swing of it at that point. It's tough and long, but it's the same for everyone."

Vehicle

RED BULL GASGAS FACTORY RACING

GASGAS 450 RALLY FACTORY
RED BULL GASGAS FACTORY RACING

  • GASGAS
  • 450 RALLY FACTORY
  • GasGas Factory Team
  • GasGas Factory Team
  • Rally GP

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