Al Qassimi second
It was soon apparent in the deserts of Abu Dhabi that Stephane's 13 Dakar Rally wins and Andrea's own wealth of off-road racing experience were going to stand the couple in good stead.
With Stephane at the wheel and Andrea giving pace notes, they hit the front following the second of five desert stages. While the chasing pack faltered, the winning duo kept their MINI John Cooper Works Rally on the right track and took the chequered flag at the Yas Marina Circuit ahead of local hero Khalid Al Qassimi and Frenchman Xavier Panseri in a Peugeot 3008 DKR.
"It was a huge experience and we're so happy to share this victory together. Thanks to the team and to everybody who brought us to this moment," said Andrea.
Brazilian Aron Domzala with Polish co-driver Maciej Marton claimed third place overall in a Toyota Hilux Overdrive on a day when one of the big casualties from the previous leg, Poland's Jakub Przygonski in a Mini John Cooper Works Buggy, set the fastest stage time.
Sunderland obliterated the opposition on the final leg, converting his slender 18 seconds overnight advantage into an 8 mins 20 secs winning margin from Argentinian KTM team-mate Luciano Benavides, still a junior and recording his first FIM World Championship podium finish.
Chilean Jose Cornejo finished third, another 1 min 39 secs away, with Honda team-mate Kevin Benavides, and American Andrew Short and Britain's Ryan Blair, both riding Husqvarnas, completing the top six.
The runners-up finish for the young Argentinian rider is the first FIM Cross-Country Rallies Championship podium of his career and a moment to cherish.
"The team got a one-two finish so this is really good for us. I'm so happy and now it's time to enjoy a little bit," said Benavides.