Watch: Dakar Rally rider races across Dubai to reach Burj Khalifa summit


Red Bull rider Sam Sunderland has taken his preparation for the 2022 edition of Dakar Rally to a new level, quite literally, by racing to the top of Burj Khalifa on his motorbike.

The winner of the 2017 Dakar Rally joins an exclusive and illustrious list of people, including Tom Cruise and Will Smith, to reach the dizzying heights of the 828m tall skyscraper.

Sunderland has spent over a decade of his life residing in Dubai, and the chance to stand atop the skyline proved to be a significant personal milestone for the UK native.

The one-time qualified lift engineer left the UK to visit family in Dubai, but it was soon after he landed that he fell in love with the sport of Rally Raid, and credits the move as the reason he started racing and eventually won Dakar and then the 2019 FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship. 

The Dakar Rally is well known for testing riders through a variety of vast landscapes, and in this latest project which came to life in collaboration with Dubai’s Department of Economy and Tourism, the Portsmouth-born Dakar rider encounters multiple terrains and scenarios synonymous with the fabric of Dubai culture, to ride in areas where a motorbike had never been ridden before.

Crossing between new and old Dubai, highlights of Sunderland’s ride include navigating the mountain bike trails of Hatta, sailing over the iconic dunes of the Al Faqa desert and hitting jumps over the fairways of one of the city’s elite golf courses.

The all-action riding feature proves in a unique and inspiring way that Dubai remains one of the most exciting cities and the best city in the world to live in.

Sunderland is well aware of the role the move to Dubai played in kickstarting his professional riding career.

Sam Sunderland said: “I lived in Dubai for just over ten years, and it’s a place that enabled me to realise my dream of becoming a Dakar competitor. Without this experience it’s hard to say whether I would have ever become world champion.”

“It means a lot to be able to come back here and be given the opportunity to ride in places no one else has, and to be able to say that I’ve stood right at the top of the tallest building in the world is all a bit surreal. I’d like to thank Red Bull and the city of Dubai for making this once-in-a-life time experience possible,” Sunderland added.

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