Sara Garcia reaches half-way point in Dakar Rally currently ranked 53rd Overall- truly remarkable!

Sara Garcia reaches half-way point in Dakar Rally currently ranked 53rd Overall- truly remarkable!

Sara Garcia reaches half-way point in Dakar Rally 2021 competing in Original by Motul category- meaning no help! Currently ranked 53rd Overall in Bike category and 12th in ‘Unassisted’ class – #98 is certainly proving her commitment, fierce dedication and relentless strength of character has pushed the Spanish rider to achieve such outstanding results.

Sara Garcia Dakar Rally 2021 Original by Motul Stage 2 Photo Credit: Sara

Over course of racing Stages 1 through to 6, with Rest Day at Ha’il, Sara states ‘I’m done! Very hard to get to end of Stage 6, my hands are destroyed’. Not least was much awaited 9 hours sleep, then feeling super re-freshed as Sara put in message to MXLink, the courageous rider is back on tools to prepare for 2nd week of Dakar.

Given 3rd consecutive Dakar for Sara and partner Javier, in same category, history has definitely not repeated itself with first major disappointment of abandoning 2019 Dakar put squarely on shelf. If anything, Sara has remained humbled by such experience, as evident in completing first Dakar in 2020 finishing 86th in ‘Unassisted’ category- first female, ever to finish the class.

Switch to Dakar Rally 2021 Stages 1 through to 6 have been carefully calculated with Sara focusing as per on each Stage one at a time. Broader picture of completing whole 12 Stages is quietly laid to rest, and the Spanish rider spends all physical effort, mental concentration and technical skill racing while navigating across stretches of terrain which change from sand, to stones, to dunes to plains.

Sara Garcia Dakar Rally Stage 4 Photo Credit: ASO

Sara Stage 1: ‘Starting in 110th position from Prologue the first 90 kms I stayed strong, trying to regain the position I lost yesterday. I have overtaken a lot of people, but between 90kms and 120kms it has been death! A lot of stones, it has cost me a lot. After that difficulty the track improved, bit of stones, but more bearable‘. Finished in 67th position.

2nd leg Bisha to Wadi Ad-Dawasir realized first real test of long timed special covering 457kms which to Sara’s surprise was super enjoyable. ‘I maintained my rhythm from the beginning, feeling comfortable in the dunes’ proved real confidence boost as evident in results. Stage 2 Sara crossed finish in 59th position in time of 6 hours 8 minutes and 6 seconds.

Sara Stage 2: ‘Long, long stage, the last 30 kms seemed eternal. We have crossed a lot of types of terrain, mostly sand, some dunes, super fast areas between canyons. The truth is I had a great time, I found my rhythm, I found myself comfortable in the dunes again’.

Stage 3 loop, Wadi Ad-Dawasir to Wadi Ad-Dawasir cemented Sara’s ability to pace herself, not rush to gain position advantage, all while keeping alert to any mechanical issues that arose during racing which needed to be checked- out on route and back at bivouac. ‘It was quite fast with many sections of stones. I have been quite careful because the navigation has been strange- I had to tighten it a couple of times’.

Completing Stage 3 in General Bike category in 63rd place, Sara edged up rankings in Original by Motul to 15th position- a remarkable feat for the sole female competitor in class. Putting in hours at night, checking #98 bike, has to be tough time when many competitors are resting and their Team’s crew are taking care of mechanics. Having been warned Stage 4 was going to be extra challenging, jury is out on how Sara knows how far to push herself while at same time preserving strength for what lies ahead.

Sara Garcia Opening ceremony with presenter Jutta Kleinschmidt Photo Credit: ASO

Stage 4 Wadi to Riyadh with special timed over 317kms proved fastest section for the Pont Grup Yamaha rider. ‘Today has been very long day, the special has been very fast. Up to 125 kms I enjoyed it a lot, and the last section too. But in the middle it really scared me, we went very fast. Very beautiful Stage’. Completing 4th leg in 52nd place, Overall in 62nd position, next 2 Stages were to be most challenging as deprivation of sleep and additional work on bike would take toll before Rest Day in Ha’il on January 9th.

Stage 5 Riyadh to Al Qaisumah proved tougher to navigate for many competitors across all categories. Frustration sure builds when wayward markers cannot be found, when bikes, cars and SSV’s are going round in circles re-tracing tracks that should have been left behind long ago. And, time keeps ticking.

Sara Stage 5: ‘Crazy day, we survived! The first part was super complicated to navigate- thank goodness Javier had his brain in place! Then the terrain was quite fast, the last section was 30 kms of dunes, then we took a sandy track where we thought the dunes were over, but they came back again! Anyway it has been crazy, looking forward to rest day’. Completing 5th leg in 54th place in time of 7 hours, 48 minutes and 25 seconds, Sara ranked 57th Overall and 15th in Original by Motul.

Sara Garcia Stage 5 Photo Credit: ASO

Given Stage 6 was one day before Rest Day, Sara’s laser-like focus remained sustaining momentum built up over past 5 Stages. Such concentration at pivotal points in Dakar remains key to either completing and consolidating position or faulting and losing sight of overall goal. For sure, competing in FIM Baja World Cup 2 Rounds earlier in December 2020 had given the Spanish rider competitive boost for Dakar, however, racing the 43rd edition carries a weight of uncertainty that remains not easy to replicate in any other World Rally.

Stage 6 Al Qaisumah to Ha’il with special of 448kms was last route marking half-way point for all competitors. Sara accomplished magnificent feat with race performance rounding out in 53rd position Overall and 12th place in ‘Unassisted’ class.

Sara: Done! Very hard, my hands are destroyed. The Stage was long until refueling which was at 202kms. There, I took a gel, it had an ‘ipso facto’ effect on me and I was able to go much faster. In the last section I had a lot of fun because the sand was wet- the tracks of the trucks and cars had remained and that made it look like we were going down slides. Now to take advantage of the Rest Day!

Dakar Rally Stage 7 Ha’il to Sakaka Liaison 284kms and Special 453kms. It is also Marathon Stage whereby all competitors are not allowed assistance at end of Stage to next day.

First Issue of Women in Motorsport Magazine will cover story on Sara Garcia racing Dakar Rally- out soon. Header Photo Sara Credit: Charly Lopez. Words: Sharon Cox.

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