Red Bull GasGas Factory Racing went from having no riders at the second round of the World Rally-Raid Championship to full strength for the third. After missing the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge due to injuries, Daniel Sanders and Sam Sunderland will represent GasGas at the Sonora Rally on 23–28 April.
The reigning W2RC RallyGP champion, Sunderland has experienced a difficult title defence so far as he crashed just one stage into the Dakar Rally, breaking his shoulder and suffering a concussion. A month later, he broke his ankle during final practice just days before the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, keeping him on the sidelines yet again.
With Sunderland out early, Sanders quickly picked up the torch and won Stage #3, but food poisoning and pain in his left arm severely hindered his performance to the point where three second-place stage finishes failed to move the needle in the overall and he finished seventh. The arm pain, which stemmed from when he broke his elbow and wrist in a crash at the 2022 Dakar Rally, lingered over the next month and forced him to sit out Abu Dhabi.
Sanders was able to resume riding in early March as his health improved. Later in the month, he teamed up with fellow Australian Red Bull members Daniel Ricciardo and current RallyGP points leader Toby Price for a Red Bull video promoting the Formula One Australian Grand Prix.
Both riders will have plenty of work to do if they want to disrupt the RallyGP points battle. Sanders sits ninth of twelve classified with fourteen points from Dakar, trailing Price by thirty-two. Sunderland’s early exit at Dakar compounded with his Abu Dhabi means he has yet to score a point. While a comeback is not mathematically impossible, they face a massive uphill battle.