After all the hard work, testing, training, and preparation that went into his Dakar Rally title defense, Sam Sunderland’s race came to a premature and frustrating end today, the Brit crashing just 52 kilometers into stage one. Leading the special briefly before the incident, the Red Bull GASGAS Factory Racing star was airlifted to hospital in Yanbu where he was diagnosed with a broken shoulder blade. In stark contrast, Daniel Sanders delivered a strong ride to place sixth and now sits fifth in the provisional standings after the first proper day of racing in the desert.

  • Sam Sunderland crashes out of the Dakar on day one
  • Daniel Sanders on the gas throughout opening special
  • Sanders lies fifth in the overall classification

Daniel Sanders: “It’s been a long old year since I’ve raced and it was great to be back out there today. Early on I caught up to Kevin Benavides and for most of the stage we just rode together, clicking off the kilometers. I really enjoyed the terrain. It was my first proper stage on the new generation bike, so everything was quite new for me today and it was great to get a decent stage result in early. I’m so pumped to be back here at the Dakar and I’m looking forward to taking each day as it comes.”

He may have been away from racing for a while but Daniel Sanders’ performance today on the opening stage of the 2023 Dakar gave everyone a pleasant reminder of just how talented the hard-charging Aussie really is. After placing second on yesterday’s Prologue – allowing him to choose his starting position for stage one – Sanders set off as the 25th rider and quickly settled into a fast and consistent pace. Confidently reaching each waypoint among the leaders, Daniel brought his RX 450F home in sixth and now lies a provisional fifth in the overall classification.

Norbert Stadlbauer – GASGAS Rally Team Manager: “Unfortunately, Sam crashed out of the race today after hitting a rock around 52 kilometers into the opening stage. He’s broken his shoulder blade and has a concussion so his time here at the Dakar is sadly over. It’s such a shame that this has happened as I know he had high hopes of making it back-to-back wins and we are lucky that he was not more seriously injured. It’s disappointing for sure but this is how racing goes sometimes. We are really pleased with Daniel’s performance today after he was off the bike for so long. The team wishes Sam a fast and full recovery, and we look forward to the rest of the rally with Daniel flying the flag for Red Bull GASGAS Factory Racing.”

Results (provisional): Dakar Rally 2023, stage 1
1. Ricky Brabec (Honda) 3:31:10
2. Kevin Benavides (KTM) 3:31:54 
3. Mason Klein (KTM) 3:31:54
6. Daniel Sanders (GASGAS) 3:33:00

Overall Provisional Classification (after stage 1)
1. Ricky Brabec (Honda) 4:14:10
2. Kevin Benavides (KTM) 4:14:29
3. Toby Price (KTM) 4:14:49
5. Daniel Sanders (GASGAS) 4:14:55

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