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Sam Sunderland interview – how tough was the 2019 Dakar Rally?

The Dakar Rally is the toughest off road event on the planet physically and mentally putting strains on riders above and beyond. We interviewed Sam Sunderland after his epic 2019 rally in Peru.


“I feel a little bit like there was some stuff left on the table, you know? I race to win, I was in really good shape, did all the hard work and went to Dakar to do that job but came away a little like we didn’t get to play the full hand of cards.”

The words of Sam Sunderland, 2017 Dakar Rally winner and 2019 third place finisher. That third place didn’t come too easily for the Red Bull Factory KTM Rally rider though. Dealing with injured riders on the stage, strategy blown out the window, mechanical problems mixed with the highs of stage wins he didn’t really want and all on top of all the usual at Dakar nonsense: four hours sleep a night, upwards of 10 hours on a bike, super-high speeds, hellish terrain and tough navigation. 

As if that wasn’t enough Sam also got handed a penalty and rode the closing stages thinking it was, in his words, with his “head in the clouds and fuming.” The penalty was later handed back but there’s no question the toughest dirt bike race on the planet played some tough cards out this year. 

Hear the full interview on SoundCloud: 




Byline jp ISDE 2018 Enduro21

Jon Pearson
Enduro21 Editor and Bike Tester