KTM is excited to announce that Dakar’s hottest future prospect Sam Sunderland has signed to race for the Red Bull KTM Factory Rally Team for the next three and a half years.
Sunderland, a 24-year-old former motocrosser turned rally racer, is pleased to be joining the factory squad in a bid to unlock his Dakar potential with the ultra-competitive crew that has won the last 13 editions of the notorious rally.
British-ace Sunderland has enjoyed both success and disaster following his Dakar debut in 2012 at just 22 years of age, with competitive results on the days he’s completed during the rally. Sunderland has also achieved success in the British youth championships, UAE MX2 & MX1 Championship titles, UAE National Baja Championship titles in 2010/2011, an Abu Dhabi Desert challenge podium in 2012, a Merzouga Rally win in 2013 plus a stage win in this year’s Dakar event before retiring from the race.
With KTM’s Dakar know-how and Sunderland’s motivation it is hoped that he will develop into one of the future greats of the sport as he gains experience with the factory squad amongst more established riders. His main goal for year one will be to complete the rally in the top five with consistent results throughout the stages, and he’s particularly excited about working with Marc Coma, who enjoyed his fourth Dakar victory last month.
Dubai-based Sunderland, who is the first British rider for 15-years to win a Dakar stage, will race the all-new 450 Factory rally machine that made its debut in 2014. The youngster will contest some rounds of the Cross-Country Rallies World Championship throughout this year as he builds his confidence and speed ahead of the 2015 Dakar race.
Sam Sunderland:“I’m really excited for this new chapter in my career and very grateful for the opportunity from KTM. It’s going to be great to work with the huge experience of the team and I hope I can prove myself with good results to return the confidence they’ve put into me. The team has won for 13 years in a row and it’s a huge opportunity for me to race with a team with that much experience. When I met the team I had a great feeling, like friends straight away, which is a huge part of the whole deal, because in the Dakar it’s stressful and tiring, so the relationships are important to be able to work together in the toughest times. The bike is proven; I’ve not ridden it yet, but I’m really excited and looking forward to that. It looks great and with first and second this year it’s obviously great for the job. I am working really hard with my training right now and I can’t wait to get started.”
Pit Beirer: KTM’s Head of Motorsports: “It’s definitely a big pleasure that we are able to bring Sam over to KTM, thanks to the friendly relationship we have had with him through Kini and myself. We’ve been following his riding over the last few years and he’s a young, talented rider with great skills. I’m sure if we combine this with the strength of our team and the training opportunities with Marc, he will make our package stronger for the future. As Sam is still very young it’s now our job to keep him calm; it’s not that we expect results straight away, but we will give him time to learn the secrets of the desert. He’s a proven stage winner, he has the skill and speed, but I don’t want to put him under pressure. The key is to put him with our experienced riders and he will learn and help them. In my opinion he is already maybe podium contender, but for us it’s not about the results today or tomorrow, it’s about building a good, competitive long-term Dakar future.”