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  • Writer's pictureVIVIEN STREBELOW

The Female Side of Dakar Rally

Updated: Jan 5, 2020

A new year and a new journey: for the first time the Rally Dakar will be held in Saudi Arabia. From 5th to 11th January, 351 attendees will face the challenge, with also some notable women on the list.

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Let's take a closer look at who are these women


Laia Sanz is one of the best female competitors and finished every Rally Dakar she started, with a best result of 9th place in 2015. She is a 13-times Women´s Trial World Champion and a 10-times Women´s Trial European Champion.

She started her first competition at seven years old and finished 8th and last, but that was only the beginning of her journey: in 1997 she won her first race in a male championship. After winning every competition in the female championships, she started to compete against men as well, with promising results. In 2011, Sanz started the Dakar for the first time, winning the female class and finishing in 39th place overall.

Mirjam Pol was the first Dutch motorbike driver in the history of Rally Dakar 2006. When she didn't race herself, Mirjam was assistant team manager for HT Rally Raid. She decided to come back as a driver in 2018.

Sara Garcia should have been part of Rally Dakar in 2018 as well, but a bad accident in the Morocco’s Merzouga Rally left her injured and she had to postpone her first entry by one year. A mechanical engineer, Sara is a three time Rally Spain TT champion and 2017 FIM World Cup title holder in the Women´s category.

Kirsten Landman could have never entered in the Dakar at all: the now 28-year old had a awful crash in 2013 that put her in a coma for several days. She decided to come back and confront her fears in 2017, as she now starts the Dakar with the target to become the first South-African woman to finish the competition.

Taye Perry has the same mission: being the first African woman to finish the Rally Dakar. She is one of the smallest riders, but her fighting heart is big: she already achieved multiple MSA Offroad and Cross Country Titles.


Cristina Gutierrez Herrero starts her fourth Dakar, while for her co-driver Pablo Moreno Huete it will be a second experience of the rally-raid. Cristina improved her finish position year after year, but now they both enter the classic race after budget troubles that could potentially have hindered their preparation: it might turn to be a difficult year on the competitive side for the crew.

Monica Plaza is co-driver for Manuel Plaza Perez.

Fernanda Kanno was the first woman from Peru to start in a Dakar Rally, but some technical issues ended her race early in 2018. She now wants to be the first Peruvian driver to finish the race.


Camelia Liparoti and Annett Fischer form the first all-female team in the history of the competition. Liparoti is a Dakar-legend, as she was the first female quad starter and already finished 9 editions in the top 10. Fischer drove with Andrea Peterhansel last year and now she is co-driver for the all-pink-dressed Liparoti. The aim is a top-10 finish.

Here you have the women of the 2020 Dakar in Saudi Arabia: we wish everyone a fast and safe race. Good luck, ladies!



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