Laia Sanz improves every year
With 5 finishes in 5 participations, KTM Factory rider Laia Sanz holds a perfect record in the Dakar rally. In 2015 she scored a very impressive 9th place overall, but a place in the top 15 remains the goal for 2016.
In 1999 Sanz (11-12-’85) became European Champion in Trial. In the following years, she managed to become World Champion Trial 13 times, and 4 times Enduro World Champion. In her first Dakar in 2011, Sanz finished 39th.
Sanz: ''When I was young, I always followed Dakar on television. I used to be a trial rider, but Dakar is liked by all people of motorsports. I like the adventure side of it, it’s a special race. Trial gave me the chance to go there, and to get the budget together.’’
''Dakar is hard for everybody, it’s a crazy race, we all suffer equally. I have a good mentality for this kind of racing. When a race is 15 days long, you need to think different. I never push too much and try not to crash. Trial experience doesn’t give you speed, but a good riding technique helps in the difficult parts. Trial is about concentration for long hours, with a lot of pressure. And this helps me a lot in Dakar.’’
''My strong point is the way I divide the race. I don’t start too fast, have no crashes. My weak point is my speed. And when the terrain is more like motocross or enduro, I’m not so fast. I train hard to improve on this, by doing motocross with the rallybike. When I watch video’s from the first year and know, I can see I’m getting faster. I improve every year.''
Sanz switched from Honda to KTM in april this year. Sanz is a professional rider, working hard fulltime to prepare for the most important race of the year in rally-raid. ''Life as a professional rider is always difficult. It’s a good life, but also hard. I love to go riding, enjoy beautiful landscapes. I can do many things for fun, like skiing, at times that other people have to work. I travel a lot, and feel happy that I can do what I love most. ''
''Sometimes it helps to be a woman when it comes to sponsors, but I had to work really hard to get to the point where I am now. The last 2-3 months for Dakar are very busy. I have so many things to prepare. Sometimes stupid little things, but those details are very important in the race. Next to the bike, I do cycling and a few other kind of sports. My friends and family don’t really like the fact that I’m racing in the Dakar. But they understand why I do this, and they respect it. But those 15 days are hard for them.’’
When Laia Sanz returns from Dakar, she doesn’t ride a motorcycle for a month and a half or so. ''I like to relax, have good food and forget I’m a rider. I don’t know the planning yet for next year, but I will do some more rally’s. And also the World Championship Enduro. It’s not difficult to come back from the rally bike to the smaller Enduro bike. ‘’
After a 16th place in 2014 and a 9th place in 2015, it will not be easy to improve these results in 2016. The competition is fierce. ''The rally crosses only 2 countries, with some new parts in Bolivia. It will be very hot in Argentina. It doesn’t look like we’ll have a lot of navigation, which is not in my advantage. Now Marc Coma is gone, I expect some big fights. A lot of new riders have entered, and they are pushing very hard. This makes it dangerous, we have seen many crashes in Morocco last October. Top 15 is my goal, I need to be realistic. It gets more difficult every year. But that applies to everybody.’’