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ADV NewsSam Sunderland: From Humble Beginnings To 2-Time Dakar Champ

Sam Sunderland: From Humble Beginnings To 2-Time Dakar Champ

Sam shares everything from his winning mindset to his darkest moments racing.

Published on 10.03.2022

With an incredible off-road career including the amazing feat of snatching two Dakar wins and being crowned FIM world champion, Sam Sunderland is one of the top off-road riders in the world. His journey to the top has not come easy though. Suffering several serious crashes throughout his professional career, not to mention being forced to abandon the Dakar on five occasions, Sam’s achievements have been fueled by pure determination and his hunger for the top step on the podium.

Dakar champ Sam Sunderland journey to the top

Growing up racing motocross in rainy old England isn’t the typical breeding ground for creating rally stars, but that’s exactly where Sam Sunderland got started in the world of racing dirt bikes. From his humble beginnings tearing around his grandparents’ farm before taking on the youth national series, it was only by complete chance that Sam even made the transition over to rally competition.

While on a family holiday in Dubai, the chance to work in a bike shop and race for them was too good an opportunity to pass up. And the rest as they say, is history. Making his Dakar debut at just 22 years old way back in 2012, a few mechanical issues and injuries through the early years initially held him back from showing the world just what he could do. In fact, the first time he finished the Dakar was when he won it in 2017!

Dakar champ Sam Sunderland journey to the top

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He repeated that feat again in 2022 for his second victory and the first win for GASGAS at the prestigious event. In episode eight of GASGAS Dirt, Sam shares everything from his winning mindset, his darkest moments at the Dakar, and so much more. 

Dakar champ Sam Sunderland journey to the top

But in spite of everything he’s achieved and endured, Sam is not done yet. He will be defending his title at the upcoming Dakar Rally starting this December 31st, hosted again in Saudi Arabia. A race that is expected to be tougher and even more punishing due to major rule changes, so get your popcorn ready!

Photos by GASGAS

Author: ADV Pulse Staff
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