Dakar Rally’s first British winner Sam Sunderland took to the streets of London on his KTM motorcycle in celebration of his historic victory.
Unsuspecting city sightseers at Big Ben, London’s Eye and Tower Bridge were in for a surprise when Sunderland parked up beside them on his Dakar winning KTM 450 Rally.
Returning home from the world’s toughest off-road motorcycle race in South America, the hustle and bustle of London’s streets proved a far cry from the near 9,000 kilometre long race 27-year-old Sunderland won in January.
“It’s been really cool to come back to London and see some British fans that are so passionate about what I’ve done,” said Sunderland. “It makes me feel excited about it, I really enjoy meeting the fans, as it’s very humbling.”
It was an unusual spectacle with Sunderland and his Red Bull KTM 450 Factory Rally machine being seen in such a busy city. Many onlookers took photos as he rode by the likes of Canary Wharf, Westminster, across Tower Bridge and past many of London’s other famous landmarks.
“Getting to ride my rally bike around London to do some sightseeing like a tourist was quite special as obviously the bike is normally at races like Dakar, in the desert, or on rough terrain.
“We certainly got quite a lot of looks from people and photos taken. It was a strange, but really cool day, cruising over Tower Bridge and by the Houses of Parliament. It’s been really fun and great to be at home in England.”
Sunderland’s victory at the Dakar is a remarkable one, especially considering that just over one year ago the Dubai-based Brit broke his femur during a race in Morocco, which ultimately forced him to miss the 2016 edition of the race.
Returning to full fitness in winning style, Sunderland then not only became the first ever British winner of the Dakar Rally but did so in what was his first completion of the race.
Sunderland’s victory marked the 16th consecutive win for Austrian motorcycle manufacturer KTM.
This year the Dakar was extremely tough due to incredibly difficult navigation and weather conditions, as riders completed nearly 9,000 kilometres during the 12 stages through Paraguay, Bolivia and Argentina.
In total 97 of the 167 competitors who started the race made it to the finish line.