First look: Red Bull GASGAS Factory Racing’s RX450F Dakar bikes
Take a closer look at the Red Bull GASGAS Factory Racing RX450F bikes Sam Sunderland and Daniel Sanders are racing in the 2024 Dakar Rally, FIM World Rally-Raid Championship round one.
It’s fair to say the 2023 World Rally-Raid season was a “challenging” one for both GASGAS Factory Racing riders, Sam Sunderland and Daniel Sanders. Crashes and injuries, including going out of the ’23 Dakar right at the start for defending champion Sunderland, plus a major leg break injury for Sanders putting him out for half the year were tough on riders and the team.
In the last weeks of 2023, the riders from across the KTM, Husqvarna and GASGAS teams were testing together in America, getting their bike set-ups dialled and focussing on Saudi Arabia.
Dakar ‘24 offers a new start and another chance for Sunderland to clinch a third victory as he embarks on the race for the 11th time.
Sam Sunderland: “It was great to spend some time in America putting the final touches on Dakar 2024 preparations and everything went really well. During testing with the team we’re always working hard to find the smallest details to improve things with the bike, and I think come January, we’ll be rewarded for our efforts.
“I’m feeling really good and full of motivation after some hard work, which I’ll continue until we head off to Saudi Arabia. I’m excited for the race and I think we’ll have a good run this year!”
Sanders still a “rookie”?
Still a relative newcomer to the Dakar, Daniel Sanders finished seventh last year after suffering badly with illness during the race. The Aussie is a proven stage winner at Dakar and won his first FIM World Rally-Raid Championship round at the Sonora Rally in April. Unfortunately, just weeks later, Daniel sustained a season-ending leg injury but he’s back to near 100% fitness, and looking forward to the upcoming Dakar.
Daniel Sanders: “We’ve been doing some testing and training in America preparing for the race and everything has been going well. It’s been six and a half months since I broke my femur – a pretty long recovery as it was a bad break, and healing wasn’t really going to plan. I had a quick surgery at the end of October, so the last six weeks have been massively better, and I’ve been able to get on the bike to get a month’s training in.”
Speaking about the ’24 Dakar, Chucky says it looks like a tough one: “It looks like the first week of Dakar is going to be hard with very long stages so endurance will be the key, as well as having the best setup on the bike to save energy.
“The plan is to just start off easy and gradually gain more confidence and speed. Being with the team a lot recently has been really positive and motivating and it’s helped me get my confidence back. Hopefully my luck will turn in 2024 and I’ll have a good Dakar after a rough go at it during the past two years.”
2024 GASGAS Dakar team preview
Andreas Hölzl – Rally Team Manager: “After the final test in the US, the boys are looking really confident and well prepped for Dakar! Sam is fit, he’s confident on the bike and happy with his setup. And with his skills and Dakar experience, he’s looking really good. Finally, we have Daniel back after his long recovery, he’s looking promising and he knows the Dakar well too, so he should be fast! From the technical side we are well prepared and have made some big steps. Everything is going as it should, so we are ready to go!”
The 2024 Dakar Rally starts January 5, 2024, and covers 14 stages through Saudi Arabia ending on January 19. This year’s edition features a new 48-hour, 584km ‘Chrono Stage’ where competitors will be split across eight different bivouacs overnight.
Photo credit: Sebas Romero