And we’re racing! Safely through stage one at the Desafio Ruta 40 with the 11th fastest time, Red Bull GASGAS Factory Racing’s Sam Sunderland quietly went about his business on what turned out to be a seriously long day in the saddle. Initially, Sunderland posted a time just over six minutes adrift of the stage winner which was a pretty impressive result for his first day back at the office. That was until an unfortunate seven-minute time penalty relegated the Brit down the running order from sixth to 11th. On to stage two!
Going back to yesterday’s Prologue, which was used to decide the starting order for today’s stage one, the results were definitely tight at the top! A mere eight seconds separated the top nine with Sunderland placing eighth, and after those before him had chosen their starting position, the RX 450F racer would be the fourth rider to rock up and enter the stage one special.
Understandably a little bit cautious early on in the 334-kilometer special, the two-time Dakar champion enjoyed a largely positive stage one. Even with planning to take things day by day, Sam wasn’t all that far off of the leader’s pace and reached the bivouac in La Rioja safe and sound.
Sam Sunderland: “That’s the first stage done here at the Ruta 40. The stage went through a riverbed early on and with the low sun, it made vision quite difficult. It took me a bit of time to get going really which is normal as I’ve been off for so long and I’m just gonna take this race day-by-day. I’m here to get some racing kilometers under my belt and that’s what I did. Results-wise it’s not where I want to be, but we have a long way to go and I’m looking forward to tomorrow."
Results Desafio Ruta 40 – stage 1 (provisional)
1. Tosha Schareina (Honda) 3:00:12
2. Luciano Benavides (Husqvarna) 3:00:29
3. Adrien Van Beveren (Honda) 3:01:45
11. Sam Sunderland (GASGAS) 3:12:55
Provisional Standings – Desafio Ruta 40 (after stage 1)
1. Tosha Schareina (Honda) 3:55:00
2. Luciano Benavides (Husqvarna) 3:55:01
3. Adrien Van Beveren (Honda) 3:56:09
11. Sam Sunderland (GASGAS) 4:08:15