Tuesday was only the fourth day of the 40th Dakar Rally, but already it has claimed two of its top entrants.
On Sunday, Car driver and US pilot Bryce Menzies crashed and destroyed his Mini, ending his bid for a title.
Now comes word that earlier today, defending Dakar Rally Motorcycle champ Sam Sunderland — who was one of the top favorites to win in this year’s Rally — has withdrawn after experiencing severe back pains.
One media report said Sunderland landed hard following a jump and rode the final 3.5 miles before coming up short of the finish and telling Rally officials that he had lost feeling in both of his legs.
After his body was immobilized in a full-length air compression suit for medical precautionary reasons, Sunderland was transported to a local hospital by helicopter. A subsequent media report said the feeling had to returned to Sunderland’s legs after arriving at the hospital and undergoing treatment.
A British native, Sunderland was the overall leader in the Motorcycle class when he withdrew near the end of the 205-mile Stage 4 circuit that began and ended in San Juan de Marcona, Peru.
Sunderland, who now lives in Qatar, has not commented on his withdrawal, nor has he taken to Twitter yet to offer any information.
We’ll continue to monitor Sunderland’s situation and update this post as needed, particularly if we receive any comments from him.