The Dakar on two wheels has known only one winning bike since the desert of Saudi Arabia is its home. In 2020 it was Brabec, last year Kevin Benavides and this one, despite the fact that Honda had important soldiers in its army, has to see how others stick their flag in the sand. Also, his great enemy. Of course, not with the official team, the KTM team in which their most powerful rivals were, but with one of its brands, the Spanish GasGas, and Sam Sunderland at the handlebars.
In his ninth participation, the British took the Dakar grand prize again as he did in 2017 thanks to the good use of the strategy in the penultimate stage, the decisive one. He sought a favorable starting position the day before, picked up momentum from behind and launched a devastating attack that no one could respond to. Those who stayed closest were Quintanilla, the only hope that Honda had of prolonging its hegemony, and Walkner with a ‘black leg’ KTM, both seven minutes away, a small margin, but at the same time insurmountable.
Because the final 160 kilometers that linked Bisha with Jeddah, back to the origin of everything, were not enough to make the leader nervous. The Chilean did what he promised, going on the attack from minute one to try the impossible. He beat his teammates Brabec and Cornejo, by five and 29 seconds respectively, to win the stage, but the miracle did not work. Sunderland crossed the finish line behind him giving up three and a half minutes, half of their lead. He knew that if Quintanilla passed him, he just had to follow him to secure the Dakar.
Walkner was not going to be a threat because KTM bet all his chips on a single move and barely took half a minute from Sunderland, whose experience helped him in the management. Whenever he has finished a Dakar (in four of his nine appearances) he has done so on the podium, the last two times as third last year and in 2019. He had been close to the double for a while and now he has it. He does it with different colors, but in the spirit of KTM, which recovers the throne that it lost after Price’s last victory in 2019.