Laia Sanz finishes 7th Overall Stage 9 Silk Way Rally 2019

Laia Sanz finishes 7th Overall Stage 9 Silk Way Rally 2019

Laia Sanz finished 7th Overall at Stage 9 of Silk Way Rally, heading into final leg today. In what must be described as the most arduous test of rider’s physical, mental and technical ability to navigate and race across all types of terrain covering 55,066 kms in 10 days- Laia has proved #44 is equal to that of male competitors racing Stages 1-10 for top 10 result.

Laia Sanz Silk Way Rally Stage 9 Overall 7th Photo Credit: Silk Way Rally

Coming into 2019 Silk Way Rally with not as much bike time as the KTM 450 Rally rider would have liked, each Stage has resulted in Laia consolidating her position amongst the world’s best Rally riders, heading into Stage 8 in Overall 8th position.

With Stage 7 set as transit for riders, crew, and personal to cross Mongolia’s border into China, the final 2 legs were destined to be the hardest, having to race and navigate wide variety of terrains and finally the sand dunes of the Gobi desert.

Laia: ‘It has undoubtedly been the hardest stage we have done so far, very challenging with a variety of terrains’.  

Despite getting a good start, the challenge took its toll in the last few kms with Laia admitting to not having eaten enough food to face the challenge: ‘It was a real special, hard and demanding Stage. I started well, but I think I had not eaten enough and I paid for it in the last 50 kilometres, although I am happy with how the rest of the day has gone. I was P12 today and I’m P8 Overall’.

Laia Sanz Silk Way Rally Stage 8 Photo Credit: Laia

With main focus uppermost in mind to retain Overall 8-7th poistion heading into Stage 9, Laia dug deep to tackle the first dunes of the Gobi desert- along with short, fast tracks, steppes, dry river-beds, ravines- all unknown territory.

As Silk Way Rally Luc Alphand (SWR Sport’s advisor) states: ‘navigation will become much more complicated in places- even if they have experience in the dunes, neither of riders knows the Gobi Desert’.

As Laia prepared for start of final 2 legs: (courtsey News Mediage, Spain) 

On arrival at the bivouac Laia put herself in survival mode: ‘I took it easy. It has been a long day, very physical, working hard, over very rough terrain- small dunes, then the fast tracks were very broken … It has reminded me of some stages of the Dakar in Argentina, such as Belén and Fiambalá, where the only goal was to survive. So I focused on finishing Stage 8 and will try to finish tomorrow in seventh position, which would be very good’.

Heading into Stage 9, the penultimate stage, with 290 kms timed from a total of 501 kms, Laia encoutered more than anxious moment when her bike became entangled in fence wire. Stuck between rock and hard place, yet becoming recipient of welcomed support from fellow competitor Adam Tomiczek, Laia completed Stage 9 Overall 7th position.

Laia Sanz Silk Way Rally

Laia: ‘I started at my own pace, calm, because I had a lot of time difference ahead of Adam Tomiczek. But at one point on the course there was a fence with wires that got hooked with the rear wheel of my bike and I was stuck there. I could not get out because with my pliers I could not cut the wires, which were quite thick’.

‘I had no choice but to wait for Tomiczek to arrive and thanks to him, I was able to get out of there. After that I went calmly behind him, since he had helped me’.

And feeling elated to finish Stage 9- Laia has reminded all watching, reading, viewing Live feeds why the multi-bike Champion defies what is possible to what is actuality racing one of sports hardest, most difficult and mentally taxing race which goes on for 10 days!

‘This is over! Today at the 9th and penultimate stage of the #silkwayrally I have made P11 and P7 Overall’. As of writing, the Final day is being completed, and will post Laia’s final Overall result.

Film edit Laia Sanz 2019 Silk Way Rally courtesy News Mediage, Spain/Silk Way Rally.

Words: Sharon Cox


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