Hitting the sand dunes for the first time in the 2021 Dakar Rally, Laia Sanz has battled her way through a demanding stage two to post the 23rd fastest special stage time, passing 11 riders during the 457-kilometer timed special and completing the day without troubles. Despite being only the second stage of the event, the 685-kilometer stage saw riders face hugely demanding riding and navigational conditions but ultimately proved to be a positive day for Laia who improved three positions in the overall classification.
Laia Sanz: “I’m a lot happier than I was yesterday. Not because of my result today, but because I felt good on the bike. Yesterday it was hard for me to find that good rhythm and the balance between riding and reading the navigation. I was able to use the dunes we had early on the stage to pass some of the riders ahead of me, and then I was able to keep focused on my riding. It was a tricky stage again, but I’m pleased I didn’t make any big errors. The stage was quite fast overall, with only 30-40 kilometers of dunes and more like one of last year’s stages. I’m happy it was a good stage for me.”
Starting as the 34th rider to enter stage two, Laia quickly improved to pass through kilometer 46 in 28th position. Faced with a seemingly never-ending sea of sand dunes during the early part of the special stage, she used her years of Dakar experience to successfully navigate her way through, picking up a handful of additional positions as she went. Riding her GASGAS RC 450F to an eventual 23rd place finish, Laia will enjoy an improved start position for stage three.
Day three of the 2021 Dakar Rally will see Laia face more sand dunes as she takes on a 403-kilometer timed special stage as part of the day’s 629-kilometer stage, which loops around the bivouac in Wadi Ad-Dawasir. Just like the event’s two opening stages, more challenging navigation is expected.
Results (provisional): Dakar Rally 2021, stage 2
1. Joan Barreda Bort (Honda) 4:17.56
2. Ricky Brabec (Honda) 4:21.51
3. Pablo Quintanilla (Husqvarna) 4:23.58
23. Laia Sanz (GASGAS) 4:46.28