Daniel Sanders Wins Stage at International Rally

3 months ago | Words: Andy Wigan | Photos: KTM Images

Within two weeks of it being announced that Australia’s Daniel Sanders had joined the KTM Factory Racing rally team, the 26-year-old Victorian and reigning ISDE Champion won the final stage of the Andalucia Rally in Spain earlier this week, beating home a who’s who of the FIM Cross-Country World Championship and Dakar Rally big-hitters. In doing so, he immediately put the international rally community on notice that he’s intent on following in the footsteps of two-time Dakar-winning teammate, Toby Price. And the performance automatically qualifies him for the 2021 Dakar Rally that kicks off in Saudi Arabia this coming January.

Sanders’ barnstorming Stage 4 win in Spain (finishing just seven seconds ahead of Price) elevated him to a very respectable 11th Overall in what was his first ever legit nagigational rally, plus he proved he’s got the endurance race smarts and nav savvy to go with his blistering raw speed. Price, meanwhile, recovered to fourth Overall in his first international rally event of the year, after losing some 20 minutes to the leaders when he suffered some navigation issues on the opening day.

“When my team manager, Jordi Viladoms, told me to take it easy on the last day of the race, I said to him, ‘Nah, mate; I’m going for the win!’. And then the joke turned into reality,” Sanders said immediately after his Day 4 stage win. It was a perfect day for me once I had clean air. Everything just fell into place. A massive thanks to Jordi for giving me this opportunity and teaching me how to read a map over the past three weeks. He has been a big help in my transition. Thanks to the KTM factory Racing rally team for this opportunity. I’ll keep working away.

“I really enjoyed today, being more familiar with the navigation. I was able to focus more and start to push. I made a few little mistakes, but all through the day there was nothing in it, so I kept my head down and found a nice flow. Honestly, I thought I would place around the top-five mark, so to come away with the stage win feels great. I wasn’t aiming for the win, and definitely didn’t want to do anything stupid. But to go fastest with most of the top guys here is really encouraging. The whole team has worked really hard to fast-track my rally skills, so it looks like it’s paying off. And I can’t thank them enough,” Sanders went on to say.

Toby Price admitted that he was a little disappointed not to end up on the podium, but took a bunch of positives out of the rally about both himself and his bike: “Today wasn’t too tricky. We followed a lot of the tracks we’d been over earlier in the rally and so navigation wasn’t too much of an issue. I feel good in myself and on the bike, and so I was able to push a little harder today. Finishing fourth and missing out on the podium is always a little disappointing, but we’re fit and healthy with no issues, and that is always the main goal. We’ve learned a lot and have been able to test a few things, so I’m really looking forward to Dakar now,” the wily Price went on to explain.

For the record, the 2020 Andalucia Rally was won by Honda-mounted Argentinean, Kevin Benavides, ahead of Yamaha’s Adrien Can Beveren and Sherco Lorenzo Santolini.

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