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Dakar Hero Sunderland Roars Back Into Action In UAE Desert Championship
Posted by: newsla on Jan 21, 2014 - 03:28 PM
WRC Rally News 2010
Dakar Hero Sunderland Roars Back Into Action In UAE Desert Championship

Dakar Rally hero Sam Sunderland will go straight back into action in the UAE Desert Championship next week as he looks to build on a career breakthrough in South America.


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The third round of the UAE national rally series on Friday week (31 January) will be the Dubai-based 24-year-old rider’s first competitive outing since securing an historic maiden Dakar special stage victory in the legendary event in Argentina on 6 January.

Sunderland’s hugely impressive display was cut short two days later by engine failure, but his experience has added to belief that he can become a serious Dakar Rally contender in future years, while he is looking to mount a major bid in the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge in April.

“It was a really good experience,” he said after a training stint at the DMX Motocross track in Jebel Ali. “Unfortunately it didn’t last long, but that’s racing, and there’s nothing you can do about it when something breaks.”

“For the time being, I’m looking forward to the next round of the Desert Championship. Unfortunately, I ran out of fuel in the last round and so I’ll have to decide whether to use a rally bike or a motocross bike this time.

“It’s good preparation for the Desert Challenge, and I’m very lucky to have such a great base here in the UAE with the dunes, and the mountains towards the East coast. I’ve got everything I need here, and I just have to work hard to be successful. You don’t get anywhere in life without working hard.”

Organised by the Emirates Motor Sport Federation, with TAG Heuer Middle East as the official timekeeper and founding partner, the UAE Desert Championship is run with the support of the Automobile and Touring Club of the UAE, the national motor sport authority.

ATCUAE President Mohammed Ben Sulayem, the FIA Vice President, said: “It was a great achievement by Sam to win a Dakar Rally stage, and I’m happy to see that he is supporting our national championship. The UAE has some of the finest terrain in the world for cross country rallies, and it’s good to see that we’re producing competitors who can compete with the best.”

With two of four rounds completed, Sean Gaugain leads the overall motorbikes class on a Kawasaki, while the quads class is topped by the other UAE-based Dakar Rally hero, Dutchman Sebastian Husseini, who won two stages in South America.

Driving a Polaris RZR XP, Emirati Ahmad Al Maqoodi leads both the overall cars and quads categories, with the final round of the Desert Championship to follow on 14-15 February. Full route details for Round 3 will be announced shortly to all competitors, and on the UAE Desert Championship Facebook page and www.emsf.ae

The event provides Sunderland with a welcome opportunity to get quickly back into action after he joined “a relatively small list” of English riders to have won a Dakar Rally stage.“The last was (the late) John Deacon about 15 years ago, and it’s nice to be part of a group like that,” said the HRC Honda Rally team rider.

Sunderland was forced to withdraw three days into the 2012 Dakar Rally and fractured both his wrists shortly before last year's edition. He was denied victory in last year’s Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge after a ten minute penalty for a basic technical infringement, eventually finishing third.

He now hopes a strong showing in the last two rounds of the UAE Desert Championship can set him up nicely for another crack at the Desert Challenge, which runs for the 24th time from 3-10 April.

Caption: Sam Sunderland - ready for action in Round 3 of the UAE Desert Championship

2013-14 UAE Desert Championship – standings after two rounds
Cars, overall

1. Ahmad Al Maqoodi, Polaris RZR XP 44pts
2. Mansoor Al Helei, Nissan Patrol 36pts
3. Almhan Ibrahim, Nissan Patrol 32pts
4. David Mabbs, FJ Cruiser 25pts
= Khalid Al Jafla, Polaris 2012 XP 25pts
6. Ahmed Al Fahim, Polaris RZR 20pts
= Ian Barker, Nissan Patrol 20pts
8. Michel Fadel, Polaris XP900 15pts


1. Ahmad Al Maqoodi, Polaris RZR XP 47pts
2. Khalid Al Jafla, Polaris 2012 XP 25pts
3. Ahmed Al Fahim, Polaris RZR 20pts
4. Michel Fadel, Polaris XP900 15pts

Motorbikes, overall

1. Sean Gaugain, Kawasaki KXF450 47pts
2. Mark Grams, Honda CR250R 42pts
3. Jimmy Jonsson, KTM SXF350 31pts
4. Sebastian Husseini, Honda TRX700xx 30pts
5. Rashed Abdullah, Honda CRF450 29pts
6. Cameron Waugh, KTM SX250 27pts
7. Sean Linton, KTM EXC 26pts
8. Ross Runnalls, Kawasaki KX450F 25pts


1. Sebastian Husseini Honda TRX700xx 47pts
= Mohammed Shamsi, Kawasaki 450 47pts
3. Obaid Al Kitbe, Honda TRX450 36pts
4. Colin Mercer, Honda TRX700 32pts
5. Humaid Al Mashghouni, Yamaha Raptor 31pts
6. Nasser Al Ali Abdullah, Suzuki LTZ450 20pts
7. Alex MacFarlane, Honda TRX700 18pts
8. Patrick Gersch, Yamaha Raptor 15pts

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