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ADV NewsFemale Rider Makes History Racing in Dakar’s Toughest Class

Female Rider Makes History Racing in Dakar’s Toughest Class

 Sara Garcia racing Dakar unassisted in Malle Moto Class, a female first.

Published on 01.08.2019
Sara Garcia to Race Dakar
Courtesy Kfoto – Kico Moncada

Women are killing it, smashing barriers all over the world stage, and this week, with Dakar 2019 underway, one of the women we have our eyes on is rally debutant Sara Garcia. This 30-year-old Spanish rider is competing in the “Original by Motul” class, a first for any woman. Previously the “Malle Moto” category, it’s by far the toughest undertaking in the Dakar, requiring participants be completely autonomous, performing every necessary task, from tire changes to tent setup on their own. Sara seeks to be the first woman in the history of Dakar to finish the race under these conditions.

Imagine. As if it weren’t enough to ride in the Dakar, consider how challenging it would be to crew yourself after each stage. While other riders are getting massages in the main bivouac, you’re turning wrenches alongside your Original competitors (34 this year), the elite who are brave and skillful and crazy enough to partake in this enhanced challenge, a throwback to the unsupported origins of the rally. (Malle, or trunk in French, was in reference to the 80L container allowed each entrant.)

Adventure Motorcycle
Sara is racing on a Yamaha WR450F. She is competing in the ‘Original by Motul’ (Malle Moto class) – a first for any woman. Photo Facebook/Sara Garcia

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Sara Garcia Dakar Original by Motul
Courtesy ASO/Charly Lopez

A mechanical engineer with a heart-stopping smile, Sara has the chops as both a tuner and a rider. As director of the tech center at the Teo Martín Motorsport Institute in Alcorcón, Spain, she’s immersed in the triad of motorsports training: mental, physical and mechanical preparedness. As a rider she has conquered many international rallies including the European Championship: La Baja Aragón, where she was proclaimed female World Champion of the Bajas. Sara is a three-time champion of the Rally Spain TT (2016, 2017 and 2018) and the 2017 FIM World Cup holder in the women’s category.

Despite the resume, it wasn’t easy for Sara to arrive in Lima, Peru, for the Dakar. A crash in Morocco’s Merzouga Rally last year left her badly injured and mentally shaken. “I have a special respect for the dunes,” she said in a recent interview, revealing she’s been working with a sports psychologist to reduce her fears ahead of the Dakar and its challenging course, propertied to be 70% sand. Sara says the work has gotten her to a place where she isn’t feeling pressure, only pride to be one of the first two women to compete in the Malle Moto class (the other is Russian rider, Anastasiya Nifontova) and a profound determination to enjoy the ride.

Sara Garcia Dakar Original by Motul
Sara pushing through deep sand during Stage 1. She is seeking to be the first woman in the history of Dakar to finish in the grueling Malle Moto class.

Sara is competing on a Yamaha WR450F. At the end of the rally’s first stage an ever-smiling Sara told ADV Pulse contributor Eglė Gerulaitytė, who is following the Dakar this year, that she had a great day. “I’ve worked so hard to be here, now I just want to relax and have fun.”

And, of course, make some history while she’s at it.

Follow Sara on her Instagram or Facebook page.

Author: Jamie Elvidge

Jamie has been a motorcycle journalist for more than 30 years, testing the entire range of bikes for the major print magazines and specializing in adventure-travel related stories. To date she’s written and supplied photography for articles describing what it’s like to ride in all 50 states and 43 foreign countries, receiving two Lowell Thomas Society of American Travel Writer’s Awards along the way. Her most-challenging adventure yet has been riding in the 2018 GS Trophy in Mongolia as Team AusAmerica’s embedded journalist.

Author: Jamie Elvidge
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