Sunderland secures Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge victory

FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship launches into action.

Image: Supplied.

Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Sam Sunderland has secured victory at the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, marking round one of the 2019 FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship.

The British talent completed the five-stage rally with an overall time of 17h46m42s, granting him a comfortable 8m20s triumph over teammate Luciano Benavides (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) and Jose Ignacio Cornejo (Monster Energy Honda Team).

“Things went perfectly today,” said Sunderland. “We knew coming into today’s final stage that we would have to stick to our planned strategy. The stage brought us closer to Abu Dhabi and as such, the tracks towards the end were a lot faster away from the dunes. I knew I would have to push really hard right from the start of the special.

“I arrived at the refuelling and the team let me know everything was good, so from there it was just a case of bringing it home safely to the finish. I’m really happy with the job done by the team all week and myself in the way I rode. It’s great to get my 2019 championship off to the perfect start with a win.”

Kevin Benavides (Monster Energy Honda Team) and Andrew Short (Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing) locked out the top five, while defending champion and Australian Toby Price (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) sat out the event as he continues to recover from a wrist injury.

The next stop on the Cross-Country Rallies World Championship calendar is scheduled on 6 July for the Silk Way Rally that starts in Russia.


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