Sunderland insists Dakar navigation has been fair

Dakar Rally bikes leader Sam Sunderland says he believes that navigation during the event has been fair up to now, despite the difficulties encountered by a number of leading runners.

Sunderland insists Dakar navigation has been fair
#14 Red Bull KTM Factory Racing: Sam Sunderland
#11 Monster Energy Honda Team: Joan Barreda
Sam Sunderland, Red Bull KTM Factory Team
#14 Red Bull KTM Factory Racing: Sam Sunderland
#14 Red Bull KTM Factory Racing: Sam Sunderland
#16 Red Bull KTM Factory Team: Matthias Walkner
#11 Monster Energy Honda Team: Joan Barreda
#16 Red Bull KTM Factory Team: Matthias Walkner

The KTM rider holds an advantage of 12 minutes over Husqvarna's Pablo Quintanilla after the first half of the South American event, which has been rated as one of the toughest in terms of navigation in recent years.

Several of the leading runners in the bikes category were caught out in particular during Friday's shortened Tupiza-Oruro stage, with sometime rally leader Joan Barreda losing 42 minutes and Sunderland's teammate Matthias Walkner also losing upwards of half an hour.

Walkner in particular was unhappy with what happened on Friday, suggesting riders had been given insufficient information by organisers to be able to find the correct path.

Sunderland said he could understand why some riders had found the route frustrating.

"It kind of changes from day to day and it's definitely pretty frustrating when you kind of take your time and still you aren't able to find the way," the Brit told Motorsport.com.

"You get really annoyed at yourself - and I think those are the times you need to try and keep a cool head and just accept you've made the mistake and move on, because the more you think about it or if you try and recover it too fast in the stage, you can have an accident.

"It's not easy, it's a long race and it's a long race to go."

Asked if he felt the event had been fair in terms of navigation, Sunderland said: "Yeah, I'd say so. They've given us almost hints for the notes, instead of really clear instructions.

"But I think that's the plan of the organisers, to try and slow the race down a little bit. It's working in some sense, I guess. And you have to keep in mind they're also experimenting how they run the race.

"Of course I'm going to say it was fair because I did it good - [on Thursday] I would say it was really frustrating and not a lot of information. But I think you have to just try to take your time and do the best you can.

"When the car guys are getting lost - and they've got professional co-drivers sat there, only reading the roadbooks - then you know it's hard. And we have to race and read the roadbook."

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