Dakar 2022: Sam Sunderland Leads For GASGAS After Day 4

GASGAS Factory Racing’s Sam Sunderland maintains his lead in the 2022 Dakar Rally standings, despite finishing in P17 on day four of the event. The British ace made history in 2017 as the first British rider to win the event. At the time, Sunderland was part of the KTM Factory Racing team.

This year, Sunderland was off to a strong start in the first three stages — SS1A, SS1B, SS2 — that gave him a lead of 2 minutes and 51 seconds. After losing time in SS3, that advantage has dropped to a mere 4 seconds over second-place rider Adrien Van Beveren from the Monster Energy Yamaha Rally team. 

“Today was very sandy, and very fast,” Sunderland said. “I had a little bit of difficulty finding a waypoint, which allowed a few riders to catch up with me, so I knew I’d lost a bit of time there. 

“But overall, it wasn’t too bad. We’re in for a really long stage tomorrow so starting further back is a good thing and I’m excited for a long day on the bike.”

At the moment, the top 4 riders are separated by under 4 minutes. KTM’s Mathias Walkner is currently in P3 and Husqvarna’s Skylar Howes sits in P4. 

VisorDown mentions in its report that the 2022 Dakar Rally features multiple manufacturers in contention for the top spot. There’s still a large portion of the rally to go and if there’s one thing that’s certain about the Dakar, it’s that the tides could turn in a matter of seconds. 

While KTM and Honda have been quite successful in the Dakar over the recent past, manufacturers like Yamaha last tasted victory way back in 1998. If Van Beveren can stick to current form, he could be in for a chance at victory. 

This year’s outing has also been great for French off-road motorcycle firm Sherco and India’s Hero MotoCorp. Joaquim Rodrigues, who races for Hero, finished SS3 in the top spot — a first for the manufacturer. 

Defending champion Kevin Benavides on the KTM is currently in P8, with 2020 Champion Ricky Brabec down in 20th

Ex-MotoGP racer Danilo Petrucci also made his debut at the Dakar this year. Unfortunately, he was forced to retire from SS2 after a technical issue. He restarted his race in SS3, but the retirement from the previous stage means he’s out of contention from the championship.