Dakar 2017 – Final Wrap | Sunderland overall winner
KTM’s Sunderland and Walkner take the overall 1-2, Todd Smith 18th and Mathew Hart 44th
KTM’s Sam Sunderland and Matthias Walkner not only succeeded in taking the top two spots in the 2017 Dakar, but also to complete the rally for the first time, after both had retired injured in earlier editions.
Australian rider Todd Smith ended the Dakar in 18th, after finishing 43rd for the final Stage, while Mathew Hart was 44th overall, placing 35th for the last stage.
Sunderland went into the final swift 64km timed special with 33-minute advantage on his KTM 450 Rally and the task of holding his nerve and getting the job done.
He completed the stage in a comfortable sixth place and sacrificed only a couple of minutes. After almost 9,000km through Paraguay, Bolivia and Argentina, he topped the overall timesheets with a total time of 32:06.22 hours.
Sam Sunderland – Overall 1st
“When I crossed the line my emotions really took over. I’ve had a lot of weight on my shoulders for the last six days. Now it feels incredible. I have to say thanks to my team, the bike has been great from start to finish. When Toby (Price) went out of the race it was a blow to the team as he’s a good friend. Because of the strong bonds we have in our team it helped us to pull together and strive to do something special. There’s a lot of fast guys that have the potential to win this race, I think cutting out the mistakes was the key to this win.”
It was also an excellent performance by Walkner, who exited in 2016 with a broken leg that kept him out of competition for much of the past season.
He was under slightly more pressure on the run to the finish as he had two riders, Gerard Farres Guell and Adrien Van Beveren, the eventual stage winner, in hot pursuit.
Walkner finished fourth in the stage and was 33 seconds off the leading time, which was enough to preserve his position.
Matthias Walkner – Overall 2nd
“This was a really rough Dakar so to arrive in Buenos Aires on the podium is an amazing feeling. I had a tough year last year, so to be here now is a dream come true. The hardest moment came on Stage 10 because there was the potential for my position to change on this day. I really studied the road book before the stage to hopefully get some advantage. That paid off for and it felt cool to get rewarded like this.”
Sunderland and Walkner stepped up and delivered for the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing Team after teammate and 2016 winner, Toby Price of Australia, went out in the fourth stage after crashing and breaking his leg in four places.
After surgery in La Paz, the Australian desert champion has now returned to Australia with the aim of being back on his KTM 450 Rally machine in four months.
Determined to give Yamaha a place on the final podium at the Dakar Rally 2017, Adrien Van Beveren put in a committed final stage performance in Argentina to claim an impressive stage victory.
Ensuring a very positive end to his two-week-long adventure in South America, the Yamalube Yamaha Official Rally Team rider wrapped up the event with an impressive fourth in the overall standings.
With Adrien’s teammate Hélder Rodrigues securing ninth overall, Yamaha’s official team saw both its riders finish inside the top 10 of the 2017 Dakar Rally.
Entering the rally’s last stage less than a minute behind the third placed rider, Van Beveren gave his best during today’s 64-km-long timed special. Locked in a fierce battle for the final podium position with Spain’s Gerard Farrés, Adrien pushed hard from start to finish but could not make up any time against his closest rival.
Wrapping up the 9,000km adventure in fourth overall, and just 48 seconds behind third, the Frenchman demonstrated his huge potential in what was just the second Dakar Rally of his career.
Adrien Van Beveren – Overall 4th
“It was a very special Dakar and I’m happy I’ve reached the finish line. The emotions and satisfaction you get when you reach the end is beyond words. I gave my all today to reduce the gap to third but the special was too short to make any difference. Since the start of the event we showed we’re capable to battle for the top and that’s a big success for all the team. We proved we have a very competitive and ultra-reliable bike that is able to win stages. As for me, I can honestly say everything went according to plan. I did my own race, attacking when I wanted to and staying fast and consistent from start to end. This was just my second Dakar and I already feel I know so much more. My goal entering this race was to gain experience and I’m more than satisfied with the things I’ve learned. I won’t lie saying that a podium wouldn’t have felt better, but we take the positives out of this adventure and keep on working as hard as ever. We’ve taken huge step forward this year and we’re looking forward to the future.”
Joan Barreda was the quickest of the Monster Energy Honda Team with a third-place finish on the podium in Buenos Aires. Paulo Gonçalves finished the dusty seventy-kilometre stage in fifth, with Michael Metge ninth.
The Honda CRF450 Rally was triumphant in half of the stages and dominated over the entire fortnight. However, Joan Barreda and Paulo Gonçalves’s final overall positions were heavily compromised by a one-hour penalty apiece, for an entry in the rulebook that invited different interpretations.
The provisional final rally rankings leave Joan Barreda in fifth position, some 43’08” behind the winner Sam Sunderland whom congratulated.
Joan Barreda – Overall 5th
“The end of the rally has arrived and the sensation that you’ve spent the whole year working towards this race. Here, I did everything that I could, but we were unable to reach the goal. But from the inside the feeling is a good one. I feel calm because I’ve given it my best shot and have done the best that I possibly could. Over the whole year I’ve worked really hard and that shows. Last year we made some changes to get to the Dakar even stronger and these have been very positive: we have developed a really magnificent bike which hasn’t given the slightest problem throughout the race and the team has worked really well together. Ricky has taken a giant leap forward; Mika was always very close and Paulo was always in the top positions. We have a really strong team and we have to be pleased about that.”
Paulo Gonçalves, posted sixth overall some 52’29” adrift of the first Briton to have won the competition. Michael Metge rounded out the team result with a fourteenth position.
Paulo Goncalves – Overall 6th
“We have finished the Dakar 2017 and we are very happy with the work that HRC have done and the results that we have achieved throughout the year. The only thing that is not right is the final result which wasn’t what we deserved. We will have to look into what happened, but we know how to win it now. We would have finished in first and second place, if it hadn’t been for the penalty and the only thing is that we will have to wait another year for the Dakar. I wish to thank the whole team as we would have clinched a one-two without the sanction, which was our aim.”
Hélder Rodrigues – Overall 9th
“It was a tough Dakar and I’m happy I managed to finish inside the top ten. During these last two weeks we’ve all worked together as a team and the motivation to do well was really high. Adrien had a great race, battling for the podium from the start. Personally, I struggled to get a good race pace in the fast opening sections and that made it really hard for me to get back the time lost afterwards. When you start the specials from way back, you need to take lots of risks racing in the dust of other riders. But I’m happy I didn’t make any navigational mistakes. I’m also happy with how our bikes performed throughout the event. Being part of this project since quite some time, it feels great to see the new WR450F Rally winning stages and battling for the top. I’d like to thank all my team for all their hard work during these last two weeks. The race was tough for them as well and we wouldn’t have made it to the top 10 without them.”
Michael Metge – Overall 10th
“Today was the final special. They had told us that it would be a simple special and flat. But it was nothing like it. We started out thirty seconds apart and an enormous dust-cloud blew up and it was difficult to see anything. There was some broken up track and potholes. I didn’t take any risks as there was nothing to be achieved by it – I just wanted to make it to the end. I think that the Monster Energy Honda Team has had a great race. We are a bit disappointed by the penalty, but hopefully the story hasn’t finished here and we can recover the hour.”
Spanish KTM factory rider Laia Sanz, who had a very successful second week after losing time in the first week, wrapped up her rally at 16th overall, just one place short of her pre-race goal of a top 15 finish. Also the women’s World Enduro Champion, Sanz is the standout woman rally-raid rider.
Alex Doringer – KTM’s Division Manager Enduro and Rally
“The Dakar, with all these circumstances, with the weather, the rain and muddy conditions, it was quite difficult for the team from a logistics point of view. I think for the riders, it was quite a different Dakar. There were not as many kilometers of special stages but it was intensive both physically and mentally. Sam did a fantastic job and he was very consistent. Also Matthias was the same.” Doringer also paid tribute to Sanz, saying: “What the lady does is amazing.”
While the Dakar Rally attracts the world’s elite rally-raid riders, it is also a magnet for private teams and amateur riders who make up most of the field of competitors. Ninety-seven, of the original field of 146 were at the finish in Buenos Aires.
The remarkable spirit of the Dakar was perfectly captured in two incidents. Speaking from his hospital bed in La Paz after a massive crash in the fourth stage, Price said his biggest regret was letting down his team.
Then, on Thursday, Slovakian KTM rider Stefan Svitko, who finished second last year collapsed with exhaustion at the end of the special and had to be transported by ambulance to the bivouac. He later returned, picked up his bike and was on the start for Friday’s penultimate stage. Svitko crossed the finish line in overall 25th place.
Results Final Stage Dakar 2017
Final Stage results
VAN BEVEREN Adrien – FRA – Yamalube Yamaha Official Rally Team 30’29
FARRES Gerard – SPA – Himoinsa Team +0’0
BARREDA Joan – SPA – Monster Energy Honda Team +0’18
WALKNER Matthias – AUT – Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Team +0’33
GONCALVES Paulo – POR – Monster Energy Honda Team +1’25
SUNDERLAND Sam – GBR – Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Team +1’42
DUPLESSIS Martín – ARG – Asistencia Med +2’16
SALVATIERRA Juan Carlos – BOL – Duust Rally Team +3’00
METGE Michael – FRA – Monster Energy Honda Team +3’01
CAIMI Franco – ARG – Honda South America Rally Team +3’07
SANZ Laia – SPA – KTM Factory Racing Team +3’08
KLYMCIW Ondrej – CZE – Klymciw Racing +3’12
RENET Pierre-Alexandre – FRA – Husqvarna Factory Rally Team +3’16
DE SOULTRAIT Xavier – FRA – Viltais Racing Team HFP +3’25
PEDRERO Joan – SPA – Sherco TVS Rally Factory +3’28
35. HART, Mathew – AUS – All Hart Racing – Husqvarna
43. SMITH, Todd – AUS – Duust Rally Team – KTM
Final Overall Standings
SUNDERLAND Sam – GBR – Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Team 32:06’22
WALKNER Matthias – AUT – Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Team +32’00
FARRES Gerard – SPA – Himoinsa Team +35’40
VAN BEVEREN Adrien – FRA – Yamalube Yamaha Official Rally Team +36’28
BARREDA Joan – SPA – Monster Energy Honda Team +43’08
GONCALVES Paulo – POR – Monster Energy Honda Team +52’29
RENET Pierre-Alexandre – FRA – Husqvarna Factory Rally Team +57’35
CAIMI Franco – ARG – Honda South America Rally Team +1:42’18
RODRIGUES Helder – POR – Yamalube Yamaha Official Rally Team +2:03’06
RODRIGUES Joaquim – POR – Hero Motorsports Team Rally +2:19’37
SALVATIERRA Juan Carlos – BOL – Duust Rally Team +2:22’53
KLYMCIW Ondrej – CZE – Klymciw Racing +2:23’30
PEDRERO Joan – SPA – Sherco TVS Rally Factory +2:32’46
METGE Michael – FRA – Monster Energy Honda Team +2:38’32
DUPLESSIS Martín – ARG – Asistencia Med +3:01’04
18. SMITH, Todd – AUS – Duust Rally Team – KTM +3:53:25
44. HART, Mathew – AUS – All Hart Racing – Husqvarna + 9:19:46
MCNEWS.COM.AU is a specialist on-line resource that provides motorcycle news for motorcyclists. MCNews covers all areas of interest for the motorcycling public including news, reviews and comprehensive racing coverage.