At the end of what was a demanding day for Red Bull KTM Factory Racing, Sam Sunderland and Toby Price both put in solid rides from the front to finish 17th and 22nd respectively on stage two of the 2021 Dakar Rally. Matthias Walkner unfortunately lost a lot of time on the stage when a technical issue forced him to make repairs mid-special. KTM Factory Racing’s Daniel Sanders enjoyed a strong day to finish ninth, spending much of the day holding a top-two position.
Day two of the race proved to be incredibly tough for all competitors. Totaling 685km and leading from Bisha to Wadi Ad-Dawasir, the stage included a long timed special of 457km. Challenging riders with soft sand dunes for the first third of the special, the stage then opened out to faster, sandy tracks, winding their way through a series of canyons. Accurate navigation was once again key to securing a good time.
Fourth into today’s stage, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Sam Sunderland put in a great performance through the early part of the special, across the sand dunes that suit his riding style. Defending a top-10 position through to the last quarter of the stage, the Brit, like many others, made a small mistake that ended up costing him some time. Despite the set-back, Sunderland was able to get back on track to ultimately cross the finish line in a provisional 17th position, 23 minutes down on the eventual stage winner.
Sam Sunderland: “Well, they have really thrown us in at the deep end with these first two stages, but this is the Dakar – it should be tough. If yesterday was tricky because of the navigation, today was hard for slightly different reasons. Overall, the stage was a lot faster, but at the beginning we crossed some really soft dunes, and it was easy to lose time there, especially up near the front. I’m happy with my riding and the position today is not too bad – I think as the race goes on we’re going to see these changes to the lead each day, depending on who opens the stage. Still there's a long way to go, so I’ll push on again tomorrow.”
Winner of stage one, Toby Price had the unenviable task of opening today’s special. And with the route made up of a combination of tricky-to-ride dunes followed by navigation-intense tracks and valleys, the twice Dakar Champion had a huge challenge ahead of him. Putting in a mature ride, despite the difficulties he faced, Price was able to reach the end of the special safely and without any major issues. Although ultimately losing time on the new rally leaders, Toby is confident in his riding and knows that the result could well swing back in his favor during tomorrow’s stage three.
Toby Price: “Overall, I’m happy with how my day has gone. It was always going to be difficult to lead out, but I think that’s going to be the case every day this year. The first 100 kilometers went well, then Kevin (Benavides) caught up and I rode about 150km behind him until he made a mistake, and I took over the lead again. In the later part of the special I had a small issue with the fueling on the bike, which meant I had to ease off a little, but thankfully didn’t lose too much more time. We got caught today by the guys behind, but that was to be expected. Hopefully I can make some of that back again tomorrow in the dunes.”
Starting only his second ever Dakar stage, KTM Factory Racing’s Daniel Sanders was able to push hard right from the start. Second fastest to the first checkpoint at kilometer 46, the former International Six Days Enduro champion made the very best use of his riding skills to storm through the first half of the stage, making it to the check point at 351km still inside the top two. A small mistake in the final part of the stage ended up costing the Aussie valuable minutes, but he was still able to bring his KTM 450 RALLY home in an extremely respectable ninth.
Daniel Sanders: “Today started off really well for me, it was a fast stage and difficult to make up time on the guys ahead, but I was riding well and felt comfortable enough to push. Unfortunately, towards the end of the stage, I missed a note in the road book and ended up losing over 10 minutes. It’s frustrating, but all part of the learning process. I’ve got a good start position for tomorrow, so I’ll give it my best again and try and close down on the leaders.”
As the third rider into today’s special, Matthias Walkner immediately set about chasing down teammate Price. Unfortunately, just before reaching the checkpoint at kilometer 46, the Austrian suffered a technical issue on his KTM 450 RALLY. Stopping to repair the problem, Matthias lost just over two hours to the leaders but thankfully was able to continue.
Forming a loop around the bivouac in Wadi Ad-Dawasir, the 629km stage three of the 2021 Dakar Rally will be made up primarily of desert dunes, challenging riders once again with technically demanding navigation through its 403km timed special.
Provisional Results Stage Two – 2021 Dakar Rally
1. Joan Barreda (ESP), Honda, 4:17:56
2. Ricky Brabec (USA), Honda, 4:21:51 +3:55
3. Pablo Quintanilla (CHL), Husqvarna, 4:23:58 +6:02
4. Ross Branch (BWA), Yamaha, 4:29:50 +11:54
5. Jose Ignacio Cornejo (CHL), Honda, 4:30:02 +12:06
9. Daniel Sanders (AUS), KTM, 4:34:27 +16:31
17. Sam Sunderland (GBR), KTM, 4:40:56 +23:00
28. Toby Price (AUS), KTM, 4:49:56 +32:00
68. Matthias Walkner (AUT), KTM, 6:44:39 +2:26:43
Provisional Standings (after stage two) – 2021 Dakar Rally
1. Joan Barreda (ESP), Honda, 8:15:38
2. Ricky Brabec (USA), Honda, 8:22:01 +6:23
3. Ross Branch (BWA), Yamaha, 8:22:15 +6:37
4. Pablo Quintanilla (CHL), Husqvarna, 8:22:54 +7:16
5. Xavier de Soultrait (FRA), Husqvarna, 8:24:03 +8:25
12. Sam Sunderland (GBR), KTM, 8:28:28 +12:50
16. Toby Price (AUS), KTM, 8:33:17 +17:39
18. Daniel Sanders (AUS), KTM, 8:36:49 +21:11
46. Matthias Walkner (AUT), KTM, 10:29:15 +2:13:37