Monica Plaza joins her father- Manolo Plaza racing Dakar Rally 2021- Car category

Monica Plaza joins her father- Manolo Plaza racing Dakar Rally 2021- Car category

Monica Plaza races Dakar Rally for 2nd consecutive year along-side her father Manolo Plaza under Sodicars Racing. Having completed 2020 Dakar Rally in 55th Overall place, Monica holds every inch of determination to realize improved results as co-pilot with her ‘Legend’ status father whose passion for racing Rallies runs deep within the family.

Monica Plaza and Manolo Plaza Dakar Rally Car Category.

With Monica’s career path focused on pushing physical endurance levels to the limit, the 26 year old success in Rally Raids, cycling events, and roles in films as stunt driver makes formidable character make-up to navigate the world’s most grueling 12 Stage Dakar Rally.

So, how did debut race appearance in Dakar Rally 2020 along-side her father, Manolo come about?

Monica: ‘Hello everyone and thanks Sharon for including me in this website, it’s a pleasure. Well, all my life I have been surrounded by engineers and oil. My father is 4 times Spanish Champion and he has competed in 13 Dakar editions, but always in Africa (and the last one in Saudi Arabia). In 2008 Dakar was cancelled, then the economic crisis started in Spain and it affected my family very much. Even so, some years later he managed to find the budget to enter the Africa Eco Race (twice as a competitor and 3 times with the organization doing like a 0 car).

‘In August 2019 I received two calls from 2 different teams about Dakar 2020. So I formulated one question at my home: “Daddy, why don’t we try to find the budget and go together?”. My father said: “Mónica don’t lose these opportunities, go with one of them, it’s almost impossible to find the budget”. But it didn’t work like this, a group of his friends raised the money. They really wanted my father and I back together. He deserved it for all the bad times, and I was really excited about the idea of going with him. And we did it! We were finishers of Dakar 2020 (even with an engine problem) and… that was one of most exciting things in my life. We are returning again together in 2021, we are going to push to get a good result’.

Monica Plaza and Manolo Plaza completing Dakar Rally 2020.

With preparations in hand, Monica and Manalo experienced all challenges of racing Dakar Rally within new venue of Saudi Arabia 2020. Mechanical issues were main obstacles to taking moments of completing each Stage as one for the family record. As it stands, Monica and Manolo are the first Spanish daughter and father partnership to complete Dakar, to be repeated in little over 3 weeks time.

Monica: ‘The main challenges we encountered over 12 Stages were engine problems. Throughout the Dakar all our mechanics worked without a rest to find the problem, but the switchboard was coded and we could not access the fault. At each gear change (4th, 5th and 6th) the car would stop for a few seconds. Maddening, really maddening’.

‘And another problem was my stomach, the pain was really bad. This happened to me again one month ago. I had to go to the hospital many times during a 2 week period,  undergoing tests and today I’ve just finished an aggressive (but very effective) treatment’.

With incredible zest for living life to the max, Monica gains as much fulfillment from racing on 2 or 4 wheels as the journey and experience of pushing her own expectations on what she can achieve. Attributes only found in athletes whose self-belief not only breaks precedent on what women can achieve in sport, but also inspire younger generations of females to turn lofty goals into reality.

Monica Plaza MTB riding Photo Credit: Monica.

Monica: ‘I’ve always been passionate about sports, nature, competitions and motorsport. I’ve competed in rhythmic gymnastics and soccer, but when I started to compete in cars I didn’t have the time to play soccer every weekend so I looked for another sport. As a result I found bikes and I fell in love’.

‘There are many bike races during the year more than Rally’s of course. I train with road bike and MTB, but I enjoy competing with MTB, doing Cross Country or Marathon (or Marathon in Stages). All of these type of races keeps me motivated and focused. Always complimenting with gym work including the climbing wall. Part of my professional work is stunt driving in films (sometimes as an actress double), working as an instructor in car events and formations for various brands and managing our Plaza Team Dakar’.

Wow- this is really incredible resume, and one which will steer the vivacious Spanish driver to success at Dakar Rally 2021 along-side her own father, Manolo Plaza.

Dakar Rally 2021: January 3rd to 15th. Words: Sharon Cox.

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