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ADV NewsAnastasiya Nifontova Makes History Completing Dakar Unassisted

Anastasiya Nifontova Makes History Completing Dakar Unassisted

 Nifontova has become the first female rider to finish in Dakar's toughest class.

Published on 01.18.2019
Anastasiya Nifontova Dakar 2019
Photo: Marcelo Maragni

“I did it! I’m speechless! I do not have the right words to describe my feeling. It’s incredible,” said Anastasiya Nifontova as she made history in the 2019 Dakar as the first woman to finish the event in the “Original” by Motul class (previously Malle Moto). An especially difficult category where riders are completely unsupported throughout the event. They race, service and prepare their bikes with no external assistance from start to finish.

Anastasiya, who raced on a Husqvarna 450 RR, is no stranger to competitive sports or even to history-making. As a child growing up in Russia she competed in figure skating and skiing, and then, on her 16th birthday, her world was forever changed when her father presented her with a motorcycle. Shortly after, she took a job in a bike shop owned by Alexander Nifontov, the first Russian to ever compete in the Paris-Dakar, placing 6th in the 1995 event. Ergo, Anastasiya the motorcycle racer was born, now celebrating her 40th birthday on January 19th with a remarkable finish in the world’s toughest off-road motorcycle rally.

First Female Rider to Complete Dakar in Malle Moto
Photo: Charly Lopez/ASO


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The road to her Dakar success has been paved with hard work and hard-won triumphs in multiple two-wheeled disciplines, beginning with her first motocross race in 1999, where she was the only girl on the roster. Over the years she’s had wins in the World Motocross and European Motocross Championships, all while she was studying through a graduate school degree in cinematography and raising two daughters with husband, Anton Gavrilov.

It wasn’t until 2014 that Anastasiya began competing in the more grueling cross-country rallies, often as the first Russian and/or the first woman to enter many of the events, including the Africa Eco Race and Silk Way Rally. Despite a doping scandal and FIM suspension in 2016 (traces of meldonium were found during a routine urine test during the Moroccan round of the Cross-County Rallies World Championship), Anastasiya pled her case and was granted entry into Dakar 2017 where she raced a Husqvarna FR 450 to finish 2nd in the women’s category (behind moto goddess Laia Sanz of course) and 75th overall.

First Female Rider to Complete Dakar in Malle Moto
Photo: Eric Vargioulu

This year she says she was ready for an even bigger challenge and the Malle Moto fit the bill. Placing a remarkable 10th out of 16 Malle competitors, and 63rd in the general standings, Anastasiya didn’t enjoy the comforts of the modern Dakar bivouac scene where sponsored riders are pampered, their bikes serviced nightly by a crew of mechanics. Instead, she performed her own bike repairs and slept on the ground in tents supplied by class sponsor, Motul.

The world will be watching what comes next for this talented rider, though we’re certain in this moment all she wants to do is celebrate her latest triumph with her family. “My children really support me a lot,” she says, “My 15-year-old daughter thinks I’m not an ordinary mum.”

Yeah, no kidding. Ride on Rock Star!

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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