History made as KTM’s Sam Sunderland becomes the first British man to win the Dakar Rally. It marks the 16th consecutive victory in the rally for KTM.
- Sunderland wins Dakar Rally 2017
- KTM 1-2 with Walkner second overall
- Sunderland is the first British competitor to win the race
- KTM claim their 16th consecutive victory
- Gerrard Farres was third and first privateer
- Franco Caimi best rookie with 8th
Sunderland went into the final 64 kilometre timed special stage with a 33-minute advantage over teammate Walkner he had a comfortable advantage but the nerves were still high. Completing the stage in a comfortable sixth place and sacrificing only a couple of minutes, Sunderland rode into the record books as the first ever British rider to win the race.
“When I crossed the line my emotions really took over. I've had a lot of weight on my shoulders for the last six days. Now it feels incredible,” told Sunderland. “I have to say thanks to my team, the bike has been great from start to finish.
“When Toby (Price) went out of the race it was a blow to the team as he’s a good friend. Because of the strong bonds we have in our team it helped us to pull together and strive to do something special. There’s a lot of fast guys that have the potential to win this race, I think cutting out the mistakes was the key to this win.”
After almost 9,000 km through Paraguay, Bolivia and Argentina, he topped the overall time sheets with a total time of 32:06.22 hours.
Walkner, who exited in Dakar 2016 with a broken leg, was under slightly more pressure on the run to the finish to hold onto the runner-up position. Setting the fourth fastest time he edged out Farres by three minutes 40 seconds for second.
“This was a really rough Dakar, so to arrive in Buenos Aires on the podium is an amazing feeling,” said Walkner. “I had a tough year last year, so to be here now is a dream come true.
“The hardest moment came on Stage 10 because there was the potential for my position to change on this day. I really studied the road book before the stage to hopefully get some advantage. That paid off for and it felt cool to get rewarded like this.”
Behind the KTM 1-2 the battle for the final step of the podium was far from decided between Yamaha’s Adrien Van Beveren and Gerrard Farres (KTM). Both finishing on the exact same time in the stage, the stage victory went to Van Beveren but it was Farres — the veteran at 37 years of age — who got the nod for the podium.
Visually emotional, the HIMOINSA privateer KTM rider had this to say…
“I have no words to explain how this feels. All the memories of 10 years of Dakar, of hard work, from when I was nobody or riding for “Chaleco”.
“Wow — I’m just delighted. I owe this to this awesome team I am a part of, these guys have given me everything to make it to where we are.”
For Van Beveren it was a bittersweet stage win, falling short of the overall podium by just 48 seconds…
“I gave my all today to reduce the gap to third but the special was too short to make any difference. I did my own race, attacking when I wanted to and staying fast and consistent from start to end. This was just my second Dakar and I already feel I know so much more. I won't lie saying that a podium wouldn't have felt better, but we take the positives out of this adventure and keep on working as hard as ever. We've taken huge step forward this year and we're looking forward to the future.”
Despite four stage wins, fifth overall for Honda’s Joan Barreda was really a case of what could have been. With all Honda team riders slapped with a one-hour penalty for wrongly refuelling, it was pretty much impossible for the then rally leader to recover.
“I did everything that I could, but we were unable to reach the goal,” told Barreda. “But from the inside the feeling is a good one. I feel calm because I’ve given it my best shot and have done the best that I possibly could.”
Behind Barreda, teammate Paulo Goncalves was sixth. Pela Renet secured his first Dakar finish for Husqvarna in seventh.
Argentina’s Caimi Franco brought his Honda home in eighth as the best rookie of 2017. Yamaha’s Helder Rodrigues took ninth with Hero Speedbrain’s Joakim Rodrigues second best rookie in 10th.
Laia Sanz just missed out on a top 15 result by 50 seconds for 16th overall.
In the Malle Moto class the win went to Estonia’s Toomas Triisa (Husqvarna). Despite riding halfway around the world just to get to Dakar’s start line, Brit Lyndon Poskitt (KTM) still had enough energy left in the tank to finish second in Malle Moto and 39th overall. Julian Kozac (KTM), 40th, was third.
In total 97 riders made it to the end of the 8818 kilometre long race.
Photos: Marcelo Maragni/Red Bull Content Pool/Flavien Duhamel/Red Bull Content Pool, Honda, ASO/F.Gooden, Marcin Kin