Australian motorcyclist Daniel Sanders has seen his hopes of a Dakar Rally triumph shattered following a crash at the endurance race that put him in hospital.
- Sanders finished the first week of Dakar in third spot, but his hopes at his first Rally title were dashed following a crash that injured his arm
- Two-time winner Toby Price remains the last Australian in contention in the bikes category of the race
- Molly Taylor, the first Australian woman to compete at Dakar, is currently in 12th in the SSV class
Sanders, who had won two stages and the prologue of the race in Saudi Arabia and was sitting in third spot overall, was on the way to Riyadh for the start of the 402km seventh stage on Sunday when he injured his left arm in a fall from his KTM 450.
Race officials reported that he had to be taken to hospital and that his race was over. There was no further information about the extent of the injury.
It was a disappointing end to what had been an exciting and largely successful adventure for the 27-year-old Victorian, nicknamed “Chucky”, who had finished the race’s first week believing he could snatch the title in just his second attempt at the celebrated race.
Sanders had won the prologue, the opening stage, as well as Friday’s truncated stage — the last before the rest day — and was only five minutes and 35 seconds behind British race leader Sam Sunderland, his GasGas team-mate.
Going into the second week of action which ends in Jeddah on Friday, Sanders looked to have the pace to become the first Australian winner in the race since Toby Price took the second of his motorbike crowns in 2019.
Sanders’s absence now puts Australia’s hopes back on the shoulders of 34-year-old Price, who finished ninth in Sunday’s stage and is 11th overall, just under half an hour behind the new leader, France’s Adrien Van Beveren.
Van Beveren took advantage of Sunderland’s off-day after the race leader finished almost 26 minutes down.
“It was a bit of a rough day. It started out bad for Sanders with a crash in the liaison and then the stage was really, really difficult with the navigation,” Sunderland said.
Meanwhile, Molly Taylor, the first Australian woman to race in Dakar, and her co-driver Dale Moscatt finished 14th on the stage in the SSV category for four-wheel side-by-side vehicles. They currently sit 12th overall.
Nasser Al Attiyah remained well in the lead of the cars’ race as nine-time world rally champion Sebastien Loeb moved back into second overall with a stage victory ahead of the Qatari.
Aussie Daniel Sanders in hospital after Dakar Rally crash