Women racing Dakar Rally Stage 3- maintaining racing rhythm to complete each Stage.

Women racing Dakar Rally Stage 3- maintaining racing rhythm to complete each Stage.

Women racing Dakar Rally Stage 3 have advanced in rankings, managed challenges, sustained race strategies all the while taking in whole experience as life-time opportunity to race Dakar’s 3rd Chapter in Saudi Arabia.

Audrey Rossat debut entry in Dakar Rally Bike category finishing Stage 3 in 78th place Photo Credit: ASO

Stage 3 timed special of 403kms proved tricky conditions for riders and drivers to navigate with changeable wind shifts creating dust, eroding track markings while stony sections meant preservation of tyres was paramount to stave off unwanted flats.

Rookies Audrey Rossat and Sara Jugla in Bike category have made adaptations to race their first Dakar count, inching their way up rankings with Audrey finishing Stage 3 in 78th position and Sara completing 3rd leg in 91st. Considering Stage One was first real test on what lay ahead, congratulations to both women for making improvements count each Stage.

Audrey: Today was long and difficult day due to the wind gusts that scrubbed the surface of the ground. The dunes were brittle and a trap and with lots of tripling areas! I set strong pace today and I have my first speed record of 138 kmh!

Laia Sanz felt more comfortable racing at pace while navigating at same time- a tricky balance for all riders. As Laia states: ‘Each day I am feeling better on the bike, with more confidence. I’m getting there in terms of pace, even though the position does not show it. The time differences are small. Everyone is still in the race and the pace is very fast. Now it would be good to have a stage like the first, where navigation was difficult. On the first day it felt like too much work. I was missing some running time and I struggled to find the balance between reading the roadbook and going fast. Now I feel much better’.

Kristen Matlock racing Stage 3 under ‘Dakar Experience’ category due to mechanical issue in Stage 2. Photo Credit: ASO

Completing Stage 3 in Original by Motul category, Sara Garcia remained super focused over terrain which had potential to upend race strategy with #98 sustaining nice rhythm through-out timed special. Sara: ‘It’s been pretty quick, with lots of stone traps. I went carefully because the navigation tyre was making some strange sound & I had to look at it a couple of times. Ready for tomorrow, 800kms total!

Sole female entry in Quad category, Sauny Martinez has eyes set firmly on making 3rd attempt to race and finish Dakar main priority each Stage. Having encountered disappointment not completing Dakar in 2017-2018, Sauny places plenty of verve on the start-line to finish Stage 3 in 11th position Overall.

Lightweight Prototype driver Cristina Guteirrez and co-pilot Francois Cazalet completed Stage 3 in 3rd position, while holding 4th in General classification. Cristina: ‘Each day is different, and I learn alot about the car every Stage. Very happy with the pace we’ve carried. In the last part we were able to cut 7 mins. The next stages must not make mistakes so we can get closer to the lead’.

Camelia Liparoti and Annett Fischer have handled their X Raid Team Yamaha YXZ1000R to precision, completing special in 8th position. SSV driver Kristen Matlock with co-pilot Max Eddy have endured all that Stage 2 presented- crash which led to-all-night-repairs and back at bivouac one hour before Stage 3 start. Full credit to Kristen and Polaris RZR Factory Racing Team for pulling out all stops so that pair can continue and race under “Dakar Experience’.

Taye Perry and Bryan Baragwanath Stage 3 Photo Credit: ASO

Car duo Taye Perry and Bryan Baragwanath have certainly encountered more than their fair share of challenges- locusts in Stage One, up-ending vehicle in Stage 2 and ‘no head-set communications’ in Stage 3. Sign language became the order of the day, along with decision to take time penalty for ‘where is that wayward marker’! The Century Racing Team, now face making up for lost time in Stage 4.

Dakar Rally Stage 4 Wadi Ad-Dawasir to Riyadh Liaison 476kms Special 337kms.

Header Photo: Laia Sanz Credit: ASO.

Words: Sharon Cox.

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