Reigning World Rally-Raid Champion Sam Sunderland has been forced to withdraw from this week’s Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge winner after a training crash which has resulted in a broken ankle.

Recovered and ready to go for round two of the FIM World Championship in Abu Dhabi, the GASGAS Factory rider is reported to have landed heavily in a sand pocket while on a final test ride before the race starts this weekend.

“Today, on our last training ride before the race I came over a rise and into a pocket,” Sunderland explains, “[I] had a big impact and broke my ankle. I won’t make the start of my favourite race of the year and ill be back on the recovery train to be ready for the next fight.

“It’s a massive disappointment but I also keep in mind just how lucky I am to be in this position and I want to thank the team and all of my supporters that ride along for the ups and downs.”

Three-times Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge winner Sunderland going out at this last moment means there will be no GASGAS Factory Racing rider at the race after Daniel Sanders is also out recovering from an injury.  

It’s a tough blow for the British rider though having crashed out of his Dakar Rally title defence at the start of the year, breaking a shoulder. He is joined by Kevin Benavides on the injury list after the current Dakar champ broke his femur in a training crash this week as well.

Read more about that and our Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, W2RC round two preview here: Broken leg rules Dakar Champ Benavides out of World Rally-Raid Championship round 2


Photo Credit: Rally Zone