Sanders Shows Ominous Speed At 2023 Dakar
Back in December, when we checked in with Red Bull GASGAS Factory Racings’ Sam Sunderland and Daniel Sanders, it was clear that Sanders’ preparation for the 2023 Dakar Rally fell way short of ideal. But it wasn’t until after this year’s Dakar that Sanders revealed just how underprepared he was heading into the gruelling event. Here’s a few excerpts from comments made by both Sanders and his team in the wake of what was a super-courageous seventh place finish for the 28-year-old Aussie at this year’s Dakar Rally…
And that’s a wrap from the 2023 Dakar Rally! Signing off on what has been a truly wild two weeks of racing with a close runner-up finish on the 14th and final stage, Red Bull GASGAS Factory Racing’s Daniel Sanders has brought his RX450F home safely to secure a gritty seventh place overall result. Not a bad performance at all, especially when you consider that Sanders underwent no less than six operations in the last year following his crash at the 2022 Dakar, as well as getting pretty damn sick halfway through this year’s event. Nice work, Daniel, that was a super-solid effort!
Daniel Sanders: “It was going to be difficult on the final stage to make up any time, but I did what I could and just missed out on the stage win. Overall, I’m super happy. It’s been a long road to get here. 2023 was a rollercoaster as always – starting the race with no preparation at all. Only five days on a new rally bike, three days of road books and two days testing in December is all I had to get ready for the hardest race in the world. I went into this Dakar not knowing what to expect; I wasn’t even sure if I was even going to be on the start line after struggling so much to ride through the pain in my elbow, which was only 70% healed. No facial incidents this year, which was good, but we had a 20mm thorn/needle in my arm muscle for 10 days, food poisoning/stomach bug for two days really bad, not being able to consume food and no energy. I believe I went into the race 20% prepared and everyone around knew how unprepared I was. Now I’m looking back at the last 14 days and I seriously don’t know how I finished every day. I’m proud of what I’ve done in my circumstances and I believe I’ve showed a lot of people who I am and what I can do when I put my mind to it. We survived and conquered the 2023 Dakar and I’m looking forward to being prepared and ready for battle at next year’s event. Thank you to my team, sponsors, family, friends and supporters. I couldn’t have done it without you all. We never gave up,” Sanders went on to say.
So, GASGAS didn’t win this time around, but it’s been awesome to be back out in the desert and to kick off 2023 with some epic racing. Despite his sickness during the first week and riding with a decent size thorn in his arm for most of the rally, Sanders really did dig deep to complete the Dakar for the second time. Nice work, Chucky!
And that’s all from Dakar 2023 and what a way to start the year. From the highs of Sanders winning a stage and leading the race for a couple days during week one, to Sam Sunderland’s super-frustrating early departure, it’s been a real rollercoaster.
As the dust, and mud, settles in the Saudi desert, it won’t actually be too long until Red Bull GASGAS Factory Racing return to action. Up next, in late February, is the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, Round 2 of the FIM World Rally-Raid Championship.
Norbert Stadlbauer – GASGAS Rally Team Manager: “The 2023 Dakar Rally has been a really crazy race for the team. It was so frustrating and disappointing to lose Sam, who was the reigning Dakar champion, on day one. Daniel performed very well despite missing most of last season through injury, and in week one he led for a couple of days and won a stage. Unfortunately, a brief illness while leading really affected his race but he kept on pushing to the end and finished seventh, which is a great result considering all of the circumstances. I’m really proud of the whole team and we now look forward to the 2023 season.”
PROVISIONAL RESULTS – 2023 DAKAR RALLY, STAGE 14
1. Kevin Benavides (KTM) 1:15:17
2. Daniel Sanders (GASGAS) 1:15:52
3. Toby Price (KTM) 1:16:12
PROVISIONAL FINAL STANDINGS – 2023 DAKAR RALLY
1. Kevin Benavides (KTM) 44:27:20
2. Toby Price (KTM) 44:28:03
3. Skyler Howes (Husqvarna) 44:32:24
4. Pablo Quintanilla (Honda) 44:46:22
5. Adrien Van Beveren (Honda) 44:47:50
6. Luciano Benavides (Husqvarna) 44:50:02
7. Daniel Sanders (GASGAS) 44:50:17