Women racing Dakar Rally- tough, challenging- 2 Stages to go!

Women racing Dakar Rally- tough, challenging- 2 Stages to go!

Women racing Dakar Rally 2021 have produced amazing performances across Stages 1 to 10 with final 2 Stages on route to finish line. All women have dealt with tough challenges on route which at times have tested resolve to remain true to Dakar spirit, to embrace Dakar experience as a race like no other on earth.

Laia Sanz Dakar Rally Stage 7 Photo Credit: ASO

From early Stages 1-2, there was already sense that racing Dakar 2021 would be an unpredictable concoction of riders and drivers putting their skills, experience and navigation abilities to the test over terrain which varied from sand, dunes, stones and plateaus between canyons. Bike rider Laia Sanz has embraced easing her way through early Stages, opting safety over risk and currently stands 20th Overall.

Original by Motul rider Sara Garcia has truly excelled this Dakar putting in mighty performance to round out rankings in 44th position Overall. It was touch-and-go during couple of Stages where Sara has stopped – re-adjusted nav, tightened noise rattling parts, and most importantly solved mechanical problem in gear-box which reduced her speed to only 4th gear. With just 2 Stages left, we wish Sara all the best, as sole female to complete Dakar Unassisted in record standings, is remarkable.

Rookie Audrey Rossat has made solid improvements in rankings, standing 61st Overall, an incredible effort for Team RS Concept’s French rider. To put in perspective the challenges Audrey has endured, after Stage 10,  the KTM 450 rider has raced total of 70 hours, 30 minutes and 28 seconds. 2 Stages to go! Fellow rookie French rider Sara Jugla handled the pressure of performance admirably in early part of race, however time faults encountered by Stage 9 forced withdrawal.

Sauny Martinez Dakar Rally Quad Photo credit: Sauny

Quad rider Sauny Martinez has remained dark horse as sole female rider in class. Determined to finish her 3rd attempt at racing Dakar, Sauny is poised on amazing victory standing 12th Overall for Team Can Am Matinez. The courageous Bolivian certainly sets unprecedented bench-mark for future women Quad riders to achieve, racing total of 77 hours 3 minutes and 17 seconds over 10 days.

South Africa’s duo Taye Perry and Bryan Baragwanath must be most outstanding pair when overcoming extreme adversity while racing their Century Racing car in Stage 7. Working to fix mechanical problem through the night, knowing well and truly that remaining in Dakar hinged on calling all strength of character to endure- Taye and Bryan made it to race another Stage:

Taye: ‘did running repairs on the road all day and night, had to really crawl home to ensure we kept the right rear wheel attached to the car… avoiding every jolt, bump, dip, rock, airtime, INSANITY ensued! We made it into marathon bivouac around 1am, where Brian and I worked on the car through the night, even while the sun rose and the bikes were already starting the next stage. We’ll have to wait for the team to do a full repair job on the CR6 at the next Biv before we can get up to our pace again, but we’re still in it and we ain’t backing down! Let’s go hunt down the field!

Taye Perry Dakar Rally Stage 10 Photo Credit: ASO

Monica Plaza along-side her father Manolo Plaza have stayed in the hunt to finish Dakar currently standing 35th Overall for Sodicar Racing. Given total hours racing 3,671kms timed has taken 50h 36′ and 21 seconds with just 689kms left to race both will surely be looking forward to crossing finish line on January 15th.

One has to feel for Polaris RZR Factory Racing Team driver Kristen Matlock and co-pilot Max Eddy when excitement to race first ever Dakar turned into utter disappointment middle of Stage 2. Taking crash over dune in 2nd leg, back-up support crew worked through the night to repair bent chassis- though were unable to get Kristen back on route to complete Stage in required time. However, one consolation, duo were able to re-join race in Dakar Experience category, though under no General Classification.

Red Bull Off Road Junior Team driver Cristina Guteirrez had outstanding start to Dakar taking first ever female win of a Stage with co-pilot Francois Cazalet since Jutta Kleinschmidt in 2001. The Spanish sensation kept pace momentum up through-out following Stages until mechanical gear-box blow-out ended any chance of racing within Lightweight vehicle General Classification. As always, Cristina remains so positive throughout:

Cristina Guteirrez Dakar Rally Stage 6 Photo Credit: ASO

Cristina:  ‘Today was bad news but I also have good news! You can continue to see the stages and times even if I don’t officially classify, but I’ll continue pushing to learn and get the most out of this @dakarrally’.

If sweet revenge takes a while to achieve, X Raid Team driver Camelia Liparoti and co-pilot Annett Fischer can remain super proud of efforts over course of Stages 1- 10. Racing amid difficult terrain for Yamaha’s YXZ1000R along with navigating tricky routes has tested the infamous pair to perform to perfection. Currently standing 20th Overall, MXLink wishes the Italian ‘pink lady’ and Germany’s versatile navigator all the best to the finish.

Dakar Rally Stage 11 AIUIa to Yanbu January 14th, Liaison 134kms and Special 464kms.

Header Photo Sara Garcia credit: ASO. Words: Sharon Cox.

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