The ranks of the Red Bull Desert Wings squad have been bolstered by the presence of the fastest female rider at the Dakar Rally. It’s with great pride that we can announce that Laia Sanz will be part of our team of elite-level competitors at the two-week, 14 stage epic in Peru, Bolivia and Argentina in 10 days time.
Barcelona-born Sanz has been a revelation at motorsports toughest test of endurance since making her Dakar debut in 2011. She has returned to race every year since and holds the impressive record of completing each edition of the Dakar she has entered.
The Dakar has fascinated me since I was a child. Not only the racing, I was hooked on the landscapes in Africa. Laia Sanz
Not only has Sanz been the fastest women at the Dakar a grand total of seven times she also has an overall Top 10 finish to her name. In 2015 she finished as the ninth fastest biker, a remarkable result which included a fifth place finish on a gruelling stage run through Bolivia’s flooded slat flats.
Sanz arrived to rally-raid after excelling at Enduro, Trials and Endurocross earlier in her career. Multiple titles have been collected at the Women’s World Trial Championship, Women’s Trial European Championship, Women’s Trial des Nations, Women’s Enduro World Championship and the X Games as well as at the Dakar.
When I started to compete I was the only girl. Luckily nowadays there are other girls doing these races and in a few years there’ll be even more of us competing in the Dakar and Enduro. Laia Sanz
31-year-old Sanz will once again be riding the KTM 450 Rally as she teams up with the Austrian manufacturer that has won the last 16 editions of the Dakar. Sanz and her team of engineers and mechanics will all be out to play their part in keeping this historic run of success alive.
Sanz’s fellow Red Bull KTM Factory Team riders include reigning Dakar champ Sam Sunderland as well as previous winner Toby Price. There’ll also be the ultra-talented Matthias Walkner and Antoine Méo onboard the KTM 450 Rally.
As for Sanz’s own expectations for the Dakar, she wants a repeat of the feeling when she broke into the Top 10 in 2015. However, Sanz is realistic enough to know that there’s a top class field of competition coming to South America so anything inside the Top 15 must be considered a fantastic result.
I’m 100 percent focused on the 2018 Dakar and hoping to achieve a good result. Laia Sanz
The 40th edition of the Dakar Rally takes place over 15 days in January 2018.
Laia Sanz: « The passion for riding comes from my dad who passed it on to my brother and me. I started riding my brother’s bike when I was four years old and I started racing at the age of six. I was always interested in the world of rally but until I had the necessary speed and technical skills I rode Enduro. The Dakar has fascinated me since I was a child. Not only the racing, I was hooked on the landscapes in Africa.
« When I started to compete I was the only girl. Luckily nowadays there are other girls doing these races and in a few years there’ll be even more of us competing in the Dakar and Enduro. It’ll take some time but I’m sure it will happen. There are physical differences between male and female riders and this means it can be more demanding for us. But with good preparation we can achieve great results. We still need the bike manufacturers to invest more in women.
« The most important part of my rally career was finishing the 2015 Dakar in ninth position, and fifth on the infamous salt flat stage that same year. I’m still very proud of those results. My objective for the next Dakar is to finish within the Top 15 and that’ll be a big challenge because there are so many strong competitors out there. Because I’ve finished in the Top 10 before I’d like to do that again. I’m 100 percent focused on the 2018 Dakar and hoping to achieve a good result. »