Sam Sunderland has made history by becoming the first ever Briton to win the bike category of the Dakar Rally.
The British rally raid motorcycle rider headed into the final stage of this year's rally on Saturday with a 30 minute lead ahead of team-mate and second place rider Matthias Walkner and the sixth best time ensured he remain top. Gerard Farrés was third overall.
“It's overwhelming,” said Sunderland, who handed the Red Bull KTM Factory Team their 16th consecutive title. “When I crossed the line, the emotion really took over.
“It's been difficult to stay calm, especially when making navigation mistakes… but we are here, we did it, and I couldn't be any happier. Hopefully we can create some English interest now!”
“I came from a motocross background and with the rally, it's different, it's a long time to stay focused,” added the 27-year-old.
“It's taken some time to change, I've learned the hard way like everybody. I kept fighting and never gave up and I'm really grateful for all the people I have around me that have guided me.
“Everybody in the team has worked so hard, they all deserve this victory.”
Both Sunderland and Walkner had never finished the infamous rally before, but the duo made up for Toby Price's abandon, their teammate and defending champion who retired after crashing and breaking his leg on Stage 4.
“Arriving on the podium is an amazing feeling,” Walkner added. “It's a dream come true after a very, very rough past year – I had a bad injury and it took me almost half a year to get back on the bike.
“The hardest test was Stage 10 – I knew it was the last stage [and] that could change things a lot. We arrived at the bivouac at 6pm and I studied the road book until midnight; I knew I had to stay strong and maybe, it would give me something back. It paid off and it's so cool. This morning, I was racing, I was in a tunnel and I didn't think. But now I've arrived at the finish and I'm starting to realise… maybe a little bit of crying. I hope this is the beginning.”
Final Dakar Rally 2017 standings (bikes) - Top 10:
1. Sam Sunderland
KTM 32hr 06m 22s
2. Matthias Walkner
KTM +32m 00s
3. Gerard Farrés
KTM +35m 40s
4. Adrien Van Beveren
Yamaha +36m 28s
5. Joan Barreda Bort
Honda +43m 08s
6. Paulo Goncalves
Honda +52m 29s
7. Pierre Alexandre Renet
Husqvarna +57m 35s
8. Franco Caimi
Honda +1h 42m 18s
9. Helder Rodrigues
Yamaha +2h 03m 06s
10. Joaquim Rodrigues
Hero Speedbrain +2h 19m 37s