Legend Laia Sanz: 11 Consecutive Dakar Finishes!
A month ago, as the Dakar Rally kicked off for the second time in Saudi Arabia, we warned not to bet against the likelihood that GASGAS female rider, Laia Sanz, would finish her 11th consecutive Dakar Rally. And guess what? She did it! Despite coming into the gruelling race underprepared after contracting the potentially fatal Lyme Disease midway through 2020, the 35-year-old Spaniard not only finished her 11th consecutive Dakar (all 11 times as the highest-placed female rider), but she also ran a very credible 17th Overall in the final standings in what was widely regarded as one of the toughest Dakars ever.
Here are a few excerpts from the recent GASGAS PR that reflected on this Spanish legend’s accomplishment at the 2021 Dakar Rally…
Adding another astonishing chapter to her remarkable career, GASGAS Factory Racing’s Laia Sanz has successfully completed her 11th consecutive Dakar Rally. Saving her best until last by claiming 17th on the final stage, Laia not only brought the super-challenging event to an emotional and positive close, but again underlined her position as a true Dakar legend.
Laia Sanz: “I’m just super-happy to finish. It wasn’t that long ago that we didn’t know if we would even be here, so to ride up onto the podium at the finish … yeah, it’s just incredible. With what has been happening in the world this year, it makes this one a little more special. My approach to the rally worked for me; riding a safe and manageable pace and I just wanted to reach the finish. I felt really good after the rest day so I could push a little more and ended the rally strong. My team has been amazing. Supporting me the whole time and my bike was perfect all race. So, thanks to them I’m so happy to complete another Dakar!”
Finishing this year’s Dakar proved to be challenging for all riders, very much including Laia. With the goal of simply completing this year’s rally, having had very little time to properly prepare for the event after contracting Lyme Disease last summer, the Spanish ace did exactly what she set out to achieve. Opting for a steady pace through the opening week, Laia reached the mid-race rest day without any major mistakes.
After a much-needed day of recovery and relative relaxation, Laia felt much more confident in her physical ability to complete the event. Picking up her pace as the end of the rally drew nearer, the ‘Queen of the Desert’ went on to deliver her very best stage result on the final day of racing, earning a 17th place finish. Following a highly positive end to her Dakar, Sanz moved up to 17th in the final standings.
Jordi Viladoms – GASGAS Rally Team Manager: “It’s just amazing for Laia to complete another Dakar Rally. Coming back from her illness last year, we really didn’t know what to expect and the plan was to take it day by day. Completing the rally, her finishing record is now 11 in a row, a truly remarkable achievement. This year was an especially tough Dakar, one of the toughest for quite some time, but every day she fought hard. I’m really proud of her for what she has achieved.”
2021 Dakar Rally – Overall Classification
1. Kevin Benavides (Honda) 47:18:14
2. Ricky Brabec (Honda) 47:23:10
3. Sam Sunderland (KTM) 47:34:11
17. Laia Sanz (GASGAS) 51:07:48