A 2015 Dakar Rally that started swimmingly for Sam Sunderland soon became troubled and came to an abrupt end altogether on Wednesday.
Sunderland had won the first stage of the trans-South American race on Sunday, but fell far back on Monday during the second stage after getting lost some four-fifths of the way through the Day 4 course.
Resigned to fighting back with little to no chance of victory, Sunderland soldiered on during the third stage on Tuesday with a respectable 11th-place showing from San Juan to Chilecito.
But it all came apart yesterday.
The website trailbikemag reported Sunderland crashed and had pulled out of the 2015 race. According to the report, Sunderland suffered a collarbone and shoulder injury and was airlifted out of the stage.
Sunderland began the stage 50th overall in the field and was the 11th man to start on Wednesday, but he never made it to the first checkpoint.
Sunderland’s saga marks the latest disappointment with the Dakar, after he abandoned the race at Stage 4 last year and at Stage 3 in his first try in 2012.
Joan Barreda of Spain continued to lead the bikes discipline after winning Stage 4, with a commanding 12mins 49secs edge on rival compatriot Marc Coma. Barreda gained another 1min 59secs on Wednesday over Coma.
Paulo Goncalves of Portugal is third, 20mins 29secs behind Barreda, followed by compatriot Ruben Faria in fourth and Spaniard Jordi Viladoms in fifth rounding out an Iberian top 5.
Entering the fifth of the 13 Dakar Rally stages on Thursday, Qatari Nasser Al Attiyah continues to lead the cars section with his second stage victory on Day 4.
Al Attiyah leads South African Giniel de Villiers by 8mins 15secs in second and Saudi Yazeed Al Rajhi by 23mins 33secs in third.
Rafal Sonik of Poland leads the quads section and Russian Airat Mardeev stands first in the trucks.
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