Laia Sanz Dakar Woman Rider Extraordinaire Claims 16th Overall
Laia Sanz has become the Queen of the Dakar once again and has achieved the best result of a stage, her 7th place finish, in more than three decades of the Dakar rally. She exceeded all her expectations and after riding among the best, she claimed an overall finish of 16th position- an astounding placement! Over 179 bikes began the gruelling 13 stage 2014 Dakar Rally and 78 including Laia crossed the finish line on Saturday 18 January.
Laia Sanz has a history with Dakar it’s her third. The rider of the KH-7 team on her Honda CRF450 Rally produced her best result ever. In 2011 and 2012 she placed was 39th, 93rd). Her goal for 2014 was to place anywhere between 25-30th place finish.
She has kept her “Queen of the Dakar” crown as the only female to reach this ranking on two wheels. But last year’s epic stage between Tucuman and Cordoba still haunts her. A broken engine part resulted in her arriving at the bivouac at five in the morning; towed by her rapid assistance team-mate Miguel Puertas. Prudence and modesty will yet again be among the virtues displayed by Laia Sanz; who nevertheless will set off in the best conditions she has ever enjoyed on the Dakar: signed late in the season, her deal with Honda gives her reason to be ambitious. On a bike that has been built for the rally-raid that she took a 12th place result on a stage last year, she now knows she can aim for a place in the top 25. “When I had my mechanical problem last year I was 29th overall and had just finished 12th on stage eight; but I dropped down to 136th place…I can honestly aim for the top 25-30, but you have to also respect the Dakar! This year I don’t have a team-mate; I will do my race on my own. I have worked on the mechanical aspect in order to be autonomous”, she says.
It was during the ninth stage when she broke all records by crossing the finish line in an outstanding seventh position, the best result of a woman on bikes in more than three decades of Dakar Rally. And she achieved an equally great achievement in the eleventh special stage where over a hundred kilometres of dunes in Copiapo she achieved the absolute best time of that section, ahead of riders such as devoted as Marc Coma, Joan Barreda, Jordi Viladoms and Cyril Despres, among many others.
Laia Sanz: “As the race went on I started to realize that I was further ahead than I had expected. I was very surprised to find myself up against people that before I hadn’t seen. I had a problem one day with a waypoint but for the rest I’ve been very consistent and I’m pleased about it.”