Sara Garcia- only female to race and finish Dakar Rally Malle Moto 2021

Sara Garcia- only female to race and finish Dakar Rally Malle Moto 2021

Sara Garcia raced and finished Dakar Rally Malle Moto 2021 in 44th position in General Classification Bike category. A truly remarkable performance for the Spanish rider who not only was the only female competing in Original by Motul class but also halved her Overall result of 86th in 2020.

Sara Garcia Dakar Rally Malle Moto 2021 Rest Day Photo Credit: ASO

Malle Moto, French for ‘Trunk Motorbike’ is defined as ‘a challenge created for Bike and Quad riders within any kind of service’. With total of 35 Original by Motul riders competing at Stage One, whittled down to 20 riders who completed entire 12 Stages, #98 defied many odds on sustaining outstanding performance on route and at bivouac over 13 days.

While competing in 2019 Dakar Rally Unassisted category meant not finishing due to mechanical issue, 2020 brought huge sea of emotions becoming first female to finish Dakar without help. For certain, Sara’s background career as mechanical engineer, combined with her strength of character caste positive energy on finishing each Stage, nevertheless Dakar Rally 2020 was one tough challenge to conquer.

One goal uppermost in Sara’s mind for Dakar 2021 was to enjoy the Rally more. Sounds difficult as each Stage compounds time available to rest at bivouac when bike needs extra maintenance. Yet Sara felt more in synch on bike, in tune racing varied terrain and more comfortable putting all knowledge and experience gained from racing previous Dakar’s to good use.

Sara Garcia Dakar Rally 2021 Stage 9 Photo Credit: ASO

Sara: ‘The planning and preparation to race Dakar 2021 was really down to- if 30 something people can race Malle Moto then what about me? During 2020, with COVID we were actually able to train and rest alot more than we would normally do which helped when racing Dakar this year. The first week Stages 1-6 went so well with no problems, I really enjoyed it’.

Yes certainly, being the first female to complete Dakar in Original by Motul category in 2020 meant coming into Dakar Rally 2021 with alot more knowledge of the race. Dakar is such a difficult race and requires such a different mind-set. In previous 2 years it was hard for me to find a good rhythm on the bike but this year it was so much easier’.

With total distance of 7,646kms to cover over 12 days, of which 4,767kms were timed, Sara’s source of energy, drive and determined spirit to break the barriers of previous standings were no less evident in progression of results over 12 Stages. As follows: Stages 1-12 ranked 68th, 59th, 63rd, 53rd, 53rd, 50th, 54th, 52nd, 55th, 44th, 51st, 51st along with finishing 12th Overall in Original by Motul category.

Challenges arose in 2nd week during Marathon Stage when Sara’s bike pulled difficult mechanical issue to solve on route forcing Sara to race with only 4 gears. Dialing down speed and reaching bivouac within reasonable time, Sara was surprised that Stage 7 still delivered finish of 54th position.

Sara Garcia Dakar Rally 2021 Stage 11 Photo Credit: ASO

Sara: ‘Problems started in 2nd week in Marathon Stage. I couldn’t quite understand how the bike still delivered performance with only 4 gears and I finished in reasonable position. It was difficult to work on the bike and repair it, but I was happy with what we achieved’.

Completing the final Stages was more test of endurance amid spectacular scenery within Saudi’s Red Sea coastline, sand dunes, historic rock formations and plateaus. Hitting final Stage 12 finish line given deprivation of sleep, rest and energy were more than ready for a break, Sara capped off huge milestone standing on Dakar Rally 2021 podium in 44th place Overall.

Sara: ‘I am truly happy, not directly on the result but from the fun I had behind the bars racing Dakar Rally this year’.

Header Sara Garcia Dakar Rally 2021 final podium Credit: ASO

Words: Sharon Cox.

 

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