NATIONALITY: UNITED KINGDOM
Having shredded the tracks and trails of the British motocross scene since he was seven years old, rider Sam Sunderland has become a true international star, garnering a reputation as a fast and accomplished desert rider. His first major victories came in 2011, when he won two stages of the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge and three others in the Australasian Safari.
Sam’s inaugural Dakar outing was on New Year’s Day, 2012 – at just 22 years old, he took an impressive seventh place finish on stage one of the event, but his dreams of a Dakar title were shattered when an electrical fault forced him to retire during day two. Instead of dwelling on the disappointment, Sam focused on the positives – he had not only finished in the top ten during his first Dakar outing, but was just three minutes off the pace of the leaders when he retired.
Having finished 13th overall in the 2012 Sardinia Rally, Sam went on to take a podium position at the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, after leading the field for five days. He also played a lead role in TEAM HRC’s stellar 2013 season, when he took the win at the Merzouga Rally in Morocco, virtually unchallenged. Now, with a Dakar win in his sights, it seems that Sam is all set to take the desert race by storm. After a promising start in the 2014 Dakar, with a notable win in Stage 2, Sam was forced to withdraw during Stage 4 of the rally due to mechanical problems. The last time a British rider had won a stage in the Dakar it had been 15 years ago!
This kind of talent did not go unnoticed and soon he became part of the KTM family, getting great results in the World Rally Championship. In 2015 he won the first stage in Argentina but on stage 4 a heavy fall meant he was unable to continue. All is good though and in October he was busy winning the OiLibya Morocco Rally. He’ll no doubt be back for more!