Women racing 2022 Dakar Rally – journey near completion – super congratulations to all female competitors!

Women racing 2022 Dakar Rally – journey near completion – super congratulations to all female competitors!

Women racing 2022 Dakar Rally are mere one day from completing the world’s most arduous Rally racing 12 Stages over total of 8,375kms with 4,258kms timed. The sheer magnitude of racing Dakar for all competitors- male and female like- has been a roller coaster of emotional joy, mental despair, physical torment and technical sustainability to complete each and every Stage on point.

Cristina Gutierrez currently ranked 3rd Overall in Lightweight Prototype with final Stage 12 to be completed. Image: Team.

The range of results exists on paper, tracking the hours, minutes, seconds each competitor has clocked up, along with rankings in categories and General classification plus withdrawals. Women have up-held their standings amongst male counterparts, as The Dakar provides level playing field for all riders, drivers, and co-pilots whose starting order for each day is determined by results gained from the previous Stage.

For sure, fine line exists between balancing the need to maintain speed over course of each Stage with managing the vehicle/bike. Mechanical problems are make or break moments when all participants can experience the drop of momentum due to punctures, engine failure, to being stuck on the crest of a dune, hitting a rock or catastrophic roll of vehicle.

All such experiences are not recorded on paper but make up the true essence of racing The Dakar. Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team driver Cristina Gutierrez felt all elations of gaining 3rd in General classification after Stage 11 but this has come at a price of being caught out with mechanical problems in Stages 3 and 8. It takes a heck of alot of courage, determination and belief in yourself to overcome finishing in 36th and 31st place respectively to pull off 2nd place victories in Stages: 6, 7, 9 and 10.

The full brunt of losing your Dakar camper to random fire prior to start would test anyone’s nerve to continue with no gear, nowhere to sleep, and no possessions for racing- yet Camelia Liparoti along with co-pilot Xavier Blanco carried on. Racing her 13th Dakar, Camelia holds fine rankings of 7th in General Lightweight Prototype classification after Stage 11, a trophy in itself for the Team: Yamaha Powered by X-Raid.

Sandra Gomez currently standing 62nd Overall in debut entry of The Dakar. Image ASO.

If Annett Fischer and co-driver Annie Seel represent female empowerment, the forces within the female duo were duly felt at end of Stage 8 when just after reaching control zone their vehicle broke-down. Sheer luck that the pair lived to race another Stage, or karma paying back Annett and Annie for all the moments of support both have offered anyone- either way current rankings of 17th Overall after Stage 11 remains testament to the performances both women can deliver racing Dakar.

Newbie on Dakar Rally block is no newbie behind the wheel as Australian Molly Taylor along with co-driver Dale Moscatt have risen, and risen again to stand 13th in SSV General rankings. Yes, Molly knew debut entry in The Dakar would be like nothing she has experienced before- even with taking 2021 Extreme E Championship Title into account. What Molly and Dale have delivered is fine example of staying in the moment- whether that is pushing the limit on what the duo can achieve by end of each Stage, or remaining oh-so-grateful for experiencing the ‘Dakar Spirit’ when fellow competitors helped the pair repair their vehicle during Stage 10.

True to Taye Perry’s philosophy, co-driver to 2x Legend Cyril Despres, remaining resilient towards all Dakar’s curve balls that come their way- punctures, mechanical break-downs, and that inevitable feeling of losing valuable time while stuck in Saudi desert- keeps Taye on track. Currently standing 18th in Car General rankings, the vivacious competitor is true inspiration for all. On a par, Laia Sanz debut entry in Car category has attracted due attention, with the Dakar Legend hitting 23rd Overall on completion of Stage 11.

Margot LLobera with driver Merce Marti after roll-over in Stage 10. Luckily, all female crew were able to restore vehicle to race the next day. Image: Team.

For Bike competitors, the going is tough. Mirjam Pol has clocked 47 hours, 21 minutes and 30 seconds over 11 Stages, standing 49th in scratch. Debut entry Sandra Gomez has tackled new challenges up-front-and-personal, making sure she feels more comfortable racing at speed, far cry from competing in the technically demanding events of Hard Enduro- Red Bull Romaniacs. Sandra’s current 62nd standing is well deserved, and a reminder just what Gomez can accomplish when on her treasured bike.

Sincere victories go to Sara Garcia– for overcoming all anxiety of will-she-won’t she be able to race waiting for results of another PCR test prior to start. Sara’s rankings of 74th after Stage 11 bode well for completing her 4th Dakar. Same for Audrey Rossat who shared reluctance of attempting to race and complete her 2nd Dakar Rally- not only beating the beast of a rally, but standing 98th Overall after Stage 11.

And heart-felt wishes to Merce Marti and all 5 female crew who pulled out all stops to repair damaged vehicle to be able to pass FIA test to race the next day in Stage 11. Yes, Merce and co-driver Margot Llobera were up for the challenge of competing their first Dakar with female mechanics and Managers, but to actually find resolve to action the mission-seemingly against many odds, is just extra-ordinaire!

2022 Dakar Rally Stage 12 from Bisha to Jeddah, total 680kms with 164kms timed on January 14th.

Header Photo Camelia Liparoti and co-driver Xavier Blanco. Image: Team

Words: Sharon Cox.


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