Women racing 2022 Dakar Rally make qualifying! Top 6th place for Cristina Gutierrez in T3 and Molly Taylor in T4

Women racing 2022 Dakar Rally make qualifying! Top 6th place for Cristina Gutierrez in T3 and Molly Taylor in T4

Women racing 2022 Dakar Rally make qualifying with top 6th places to Red Bull Off Road Junior Team driver Cristina Gutierrez in Lightweight Prototype: T3 and Molly Taylor Can-Am South Factory Racing in SSV: T3 category.

Taye Perry with Cyril Despres racing Prologue- coming in 29th position. Image ASO.

Day 1 of Dakar meant mix of nerves, excitement, and adrenalin to get going with competitors starting Stage 1A over 225kms before 19kms special determining starting order for the next day. Women competing across 4 categories: Bike, Car, Lightweight Prototype and SSV had first real test to gauge where each slots in ranking before racing starts tomorrow.

First to draw blood, sweat and all that has been poured into getting to 2022 Dakar Rally start-line was Mirjam Pol. Known for measured response to give into all emotions which play out before racing begins, Mirjam clocked 64th in standing order, well poised to tackle Day 2- Stage 1B in early hours of tomorrow morning.

Thank goodness Sara Garcia made it through the extended stay in Jeddah hotel room when PCR test came back positive on arrival. How the Pont Grup Yamaha rider managed to overcome anxiety of- will-she-race-or-not, only Sara knows. More importantly, the Spanish rider was duly rewarded with 2 further negative tests and completed Prologue in 77th place.

All hail to the debut entry of Sandra Gomez who rounded out her first experience of Dakar in 100th position not to be outdone by French female rider, Audrey Rossat who crossed the timed section in 131st place in General Bike category.

If total of one hour racing and navigating the tricky sands of Saudi’s desert in Bike category makes eyes water, Women competing in Car category proved knowledge remains pathway to perfecting skills as shown by Taye Perry teamed with 2x Legend Cyril Despres. From 88 paired drivers and co-pilots, Taye executed precision co-driving skills which placed the duo in 29th position heading into Stage 1B tomorrow.

Merce Marti and Annie Seel completing 2022 Dakar Rally Prologue in 21st position in T3 category.

Laia Sanz debut in Car category with co-driver Maurizio Gerini bears acknowledgement on the Dakar Legend’s tough mental prowess when making decisions which affect the trajectory of her racing career. Making the switch from racing Dakar in Bike category for past 11 consecutive years, heralds new chapter for Laia, with the pair more than ready to embrace finishing Stage 1A special in 41st place.

Highlighting how tight racing will be, Monica Plaza paired with her father Manola Plaza made quick work of racing 19kms sprint coming in at 13 minutes 31 seconds in 47th place- total of 2 minutes 40 seconds from leader Nassar Al-Attiyah and co-driver Matthieu Baumel.

Never one to sing her own success loudly, Cristina Gutierrez maintains her victories with total reliance on letting her performance do all the talking. Paired with 2021 co-pilot Francois Cazalet, you can bet cris-tortu will push all gender aside as seen in her stellar finish of 6th in Lightweight Prototype Stage 1A today.

With 44 seconds separating Gutierrez and fellow Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team leaders- Seth Quintero and Dennis Zenz, congratulations must go to the debut entry of all female crew of Merce Marti and Margot Llobera who finished Prologue in 21st spot. As always, calm and reserved of right, Dakar Legend Camelia Liporati and co-driver Xavier Blanco tested parameters on first outing finishing Day 1 in 28th position, closely followed by female duo Annett Fischer and Annie Seel who overcame few mechanical issues to cap off standings in 31st place.

Sara Garcia completes 2022 Dakar Rally Prologue in 77th place. Image ASO.

Running off the back of momentum after claiming recent 2021 Extreme E Championship, Molly Taylor switched up another gear racing with Dale Moscatt finishing the T4 special in 6th place. Put in perspective, Molly and Dale were mere 1 minute 1 second off leaders, which bodes extremely well for what comes next.

Stage 1B Ha’il to Ha’il total race distance of 514kms with 333kms timed, January 2nd.

Header photo: Molly Taylor Can-Am Factory South Racing. Image ASO.

Words: Sharon Cox.

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