Kristen Matlock takes on all challenges racing Dakar Rally- utmost admiration for such courage!

Kristen Matlock takes on all challenges racing Dakar Rally- utmost admiration for such courage!

Kristen Matlock takes on all challenges racing Dakar Rally 2021 with Polaris RZR Factory Racing Team completing Stages 1 to 6 alongside co-pilot Max Eddy. Forming Team’s 2nd racing pair, husband Wayne Matlock with co-driver Sam Hayes, the Team USA have proved undeniable force to be reckoned with competing in their first ever Dakar Rally.

Kristen Matlock racing with Polaris RZR Factory Racing – photo taken at shakedown courtesy Kristen.

From initial planning to race Dakar, to logistical nightmare of getting everything there, to handling all race preparations for the world’s most brutal Rally on the other side of the world was major task to implement- let alone carry out. Yet, if hardest part of Dakar is getting to the start-line, Kristen and Team rose mightily and were all set for 12 Stages of racing on January 3rd.

With plenty of excitement building, Kristen never hesitated on breaking down the steps everyone on Team went through to cover all ‘out there scenarios’ that could or could not happen. Fully aware of how tough racing would be, Kristen made no excuses on having to deal with the unknown quantity of racing Dakar – all the while backed by her fervent positive attitude and mind-set that the ‘Iron Woman’ of Baja Rallies back home would be able to hold her own on route.

With minimal female competitors racing Dakar 2021- total of 16 out of 555- proving a woman is up for the task first time round might be seen as a stretch of individual ability. Or does gender matter when the driver, rider, co-pilot, Rookie or Legend has stellar reputation for producing highest level of race performance under extreme race conditions?

Kristen does not have to prove any of the above, and neither do all female competitors who take on Dakar for first or consecutive times. What these women represent are the ‘possible’ of pursuing a goal no matter how hard to implement, learning from such amazing experiences and remaining open to what comes next.

Kristen Matlock and Max Eddy Dakar Rally Stage 2 Photo Credit: ASO

Stage 1, Kristen along with Max were set, completing 1st leg Jeddah-Jeddah in 10th place within 3 hours, 59′ and 55 seconds. Holding out for improved performance in 2nd leg Bisha-Wadi Ad-Dawasir, duo met trouble head-on, with crash over dune causing vehicle damage to be repaired.

It was long day and even longer night with Kristen realizing fixing broken chassis wasn’t going to be achievable for pair to finish Stage 2 within race-time duration. Posting social media feed at 2.30am, still in desert, Kristen could at least find solace that they would make it back to bivouac, with an hour to spare, to race under ‘Dakar Experience’ category for the rest of the Rally.

Wildcard entry in category was, in all minds life-saver. Kristen and Polaris RZR Factory Racing Team planned racing Dakar over programme of 3 years. Learning what it takes to race Dakar has taken patience, ‘it is a whole different discipline from what we are used to racing back home’.

Completing Stages 3 through to 6, before Rest Day at Ha’il has been rewarding for both Kristen and Max. No doubt, disappointment of not being included in Overall classification for Dakar 2021 even though given opportunity to race within entered class would be hard to take. Never has Kristen faltered to heart-yearning of what could have been, rather the gutsy driver has embraced whole experience while remaining proud of even racing Dakar with Team this year.

Kristen: ‘We have made it to the halfway point of the race!🙌🏼🇺🇸 We have fought hard for 2,800 miles of the 5,000 mile race and will continue to do the same until the end of the final stage(12) in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. So far our team has done exactly what we set out to do in our first year at the Dakar Rally.  LEARN and hopefully FINISH the entire rally.🤞🏼I’m so proud to be here working with such amazing individuals that all share a common goal which is to represent the companies that stand behind us and America by standing strong, working hard, and never giving up.

Dakar Rally Stage 7 Ha’il to Sakaka Liaison 284kms and Special 453kms. Also, Stage is Marathon whereby all competitors have no assistance when they reach bivouac until next Stage.

Header Photo Kristen Matlock Credit: ASO. Words: Sharon Cox.

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