Dakar, Sanders and the sandwich strategy: “I wanted to avoid starting stage 4 first”

In first place for a good part of the special, the Australian Gas Gas rider finished stage three in fifth place after a…. snack break, which he made to avoid having to start the next stage first

The third stage of the 2022 Dakar, in which Portuguese rider Joaquim Rodrigues set the fastest time, saw Daniel Sanders starring in a bizarre episode after the final waypoint. The Gas Gas rider, who already won stage one, was lying first when, just a few kilometres from the finish, he stopped to eat a sandwich, in order to waste the necessary time so that he would not finish the special in first place.

Sanders’ strategy was well thought out, as stage four will be one of the longest of this edition, a special spanning 450 kilometres from Al Qaisumah to Riyadh, and the Australian preferred to finish fifth today so as to not lead the way tomorrow, taking a risk that could favour his direct rivals.

Sanders: “It was a strategic move, I know I’m one of the fastest"

"Towards the end of the special I was feeling a bit hungry. It was a short stage and I’d missed lunch”, commented the Australian, who’s competing in his second Dakar. “I stopped for a few minutes to have a snack a few kilometres from the end, , although I was really trying to waste time and avoid opening tomorrow’s stage, which will be very long. We’ll need to cover more than 450 timed kilometres, so this was a strategic move that I think worked, as my short stop meant I finished fifth”.

"I know I’m one of the fastest, I just need to improve my navigation”, continued Daniel. “For example, during yesterday’s second stage I made a few mistakes and lost a lot of time. In tomorrow’s special, which is so long, it’s better to start further back and try to catch the other riders by making up time. We’re already considering these strategies because the ideal situation would be to reach the rest day (8 January) in a good position, as the second part of the rally will be the hardest".

Translated by Heather Watson

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