Photo Credit: Bahrain Raid Xtreme
The Dakar Rally is unarguably one of the most excruciating automotive events ever created. Spanning 14 days, the Dakar Rally traverses miles upon miles of the harshest terrain in the world.
It is a marathon of mental and vehicular endurance. The 2022 Dakar Rally is a rally raid event held in Saudi Arabia and the 44th edition of the Dakar Rally organized by Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO) — taking place from January 1-14.
The race started in Ha'il and will end in Jeddah, going through canyons and cliffs in the Neom region, passing by the Red Sea coastline, into to stretches of dunes surrounding Riyadh, with a lot more action on sand dunes in the Empty Quarter. The route consists of one prologue stage and 12 normal stages — with one rest day in Riyadh on January 8th.
Dakar Rally All-Female Team
It’s the perfect storm for a team of female racers, Amy Lerner and Sara Bossaert.
Recently Amy Lerner was interviewed by Autoweek to find out what her team learned during last year’s Dakar, its strategy for the coming weeks, the challenges faced by a female team in a male-dominated event in the Middle East, and what motivates a couple of women from different walks of life to strap on helmets and subject themselves to all that is Dakar.
Autoweek: You won the Dakar Challenge in 2013, why did you wait until last year to enter the Dakar Rally?
Amy Lerner: I had put it on my radar, but what hooked me last year was learning that they were adding a class for classic cars. We were late into the game, but I began making phone calls, looking into possibilities, and it all came together.
Autoweek: What steps have you taken in the last 12 months to prepare for this year’s rally?
Amy Lerner: We competed in a few more road regularity rallies, including the Costa Brava Historic Rally. This gave us an opportunity to dial in our communication, strategy, and equipment. We also talked with experienced teams to get their insights. I think we are better prepared and hopefully considerably more competitive.
Autoweek: Dakar is a multi-week endurance rally. What are your thoughts when the green flag drops each day?
Amy Lerner: The Dakar Classic is really a rally against yourself. Success is based on completing sections in the prescribed time by driving the prescribed average speed. For me each day is a stand-alone rally. I focus on what the day looks like and our strategy. Sara will go through the road book, highlighting dangers and terrain I need to be aware of. We also plan strategy for tire pressure and transits.
Autoweek: With more than 150 teams entered, does the sheer number of competitors change your strategy?
Amy Lerner: Not really. We have to be the best we can be and stay focused. The goal is always an overall podium win, but with six times as many teams, a top 10 would be solid as well.
It seems like this all-female team is up to the task of winning, but the question remains if Amy and Sara have done enough to prepare. Will they see the checkered flag, or the podium?