Sunderland and Walkner take Dakar 1-2 for KTM

The 2017 Dakar Rally was settled on Saturday when Britain’s Sam Sunderland and Austrian teammate Matthias Walkner crossed the line 1-2.

The result gave KTM its 16th consecutive victory.

Sunderland said his “emotions really took over” after crossing the finish-line.

“I’ve had a lot of weight on my shoulders for the last six days.

“Now it feels incredible.”

Sunderland also took the opportunity to thank his team for putting and keeping together a great bike, and said “cutting out the mistakes was the key to this win.”

Sunderland and Walkner not only succeeded in taking the top two spots, but it was also the first time both had completed the rally.

Both had retired injured in previous years.

Walkner was amazed to be on the podium, calling it “a dream come true”.

Sunderland went into the final swift 64 km 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, ‘SunderSam’ topped the overall timesheets with a total time of 32:06.22 hours.

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 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.

“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,” Walkner said.

Sunderland and Walkner certainly 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.

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