DAKAR RALLY – STAGE ONE
Making the perfect start to his 2015 Dakar Rally, Sunderland delivered a near flawless performance on the opening 175km long stage to take the win from Paulo Goncalves.
Despite a streak of bad luck during his first two Dakar starts with Honda, Sam Sunderland showed glimpses of his speed when he took the second stage of the 2014 edition. Now in 2015 he made good on this promise during the opening stage from Buenos Aires to Villa Carlos Paz and bagged his second stage win in Dakar.
“It’s difficult to judge your strategy based on the first day because you still don’t know who’s pulled out all the stops. It’s also important not to go all in, you’ve got to leave something for the other stages,” told a modest Sunderland.
“However, I think I had a good special and that’s always a reason to be happy. The bike didn’t miss a beat. I’m a contender for the first day but more importantly I hope I’m also a contender at the end. We’ve only covered 175 kilometres – there’s still a long road before us.”
With his 2014 Dakar campaign ending in a ball of flames, Paulo Gonçalves got his 2015 race off on the right foot. Second behind Sunderland – just five seconds adrift – Goncalves split the KTM duo of Sunderland and Marc Coma.
“The 2015 Dakar is really under way now,” said Goncalves. “If I’d known I was running second, just a few seconds behind Sam Sunderland, I would’ve pushed a bit harder to try and win the special. Not a big deal, I’m still very happy. We’ve got a long stage coming tomorrow and we’ll be racing up front.
Coma, third in today’s stage, will not have to deal with Cyril Despres, but he will have to keep a watchful eye on fourth-placed Joan Barreda. Alain Duclos and his Sherco finished in fifth place, two minutes behind the winner but ahead of Jeremías Israel and fellow countryman David Casteu.
There was also a stunning rookie performance by motocross rider Matthias Walkner, who clinched a solid eighth place in today’s warm-up stage, while Olivier Pain and Jordi Viladoms were extra cautious and conceded over 3′30″.
Aussie Toby Price – making his debut in Dakar – just missed out on the top 10 with 11th.
Laia Sanz brought her Honda home for 16th on stage one.
PAVEY WATCH – STAGE ONE
Along with the top contenders we’re keeping a close watch on enduro21’s regular bike tester Llel Pavey. Making his debut at Dakar with father Si, the duo are the first father and son team to compete.
Llel placed 84th on stage one with Si 95th.
Good job guys!