Just before she had to travel to the Dakar rally, we interviewed rally-raid rider Sara García from Spain. She gave us an insight into her impressive career – her recovery from serious injuries in 2018 and her expectations for the Dakar adventure.
WHEEL SISTERS: Sara, please introduce yourself.
Sara: Hi! I am Sara García, a moto rally-raid rider. I come from Spain and race at Dakar, Baja’s World Cup and the Spanish rally championship.
WHEEL SISTERS: Sara, you are one of the toughest female riders in the world and can look back on impressive successes. Can you tell us a little bit about your way to the top? How did you get into racing? Your parents owned a Yamaha motorbike store, is that correct?
Sara: I think all women could achieve what I have; you just need to work hard! I started with a Yamaha PW50 at the age of 3 years, but an accident put me off motorbikes until I was 14 years old.
And yes, that is correct! My parents were Yamaha dealers, so I was surrounded by motos my whole childhood!
WHEEL SISTERS: Can you tell us your career milestones so far?
Sara: My number one milestone was last year – in 2020, I became the first female European rider to finish Dakar Rally in the Original by Motul category (without assistance).
2017 Baja’s World Champion
2017 & 2018 Spanish rally champion
2013, 2014 & 2015 Vespa Raid champion
WHEEL SISTERS: Apart from your parents, who are the people around you? Who gives you the necessary support?
Sara: All my family, boyfriend, friends, etc., support my crazy projects. I am such a lucky girl!
They all give me the support I need. Furthermore, my sponsors are important, without them, I could never be part of Dakar Rally.
WHEEL SISTERS: What has had the biggest impact on improving your riding skills?
Sara: Training with the company powering off road; they are the first startup focused on the physical conditioning of amateur riders and enthusiasts of bike, dirt bike and off-road sports. So they know exactly what I need to get better on the bike.
WHEEL SISTERS: The Dakar is tough, dangerous and challenging – to complete this motorcycle race you need great driving skills and great physical endurance. How do you prepare for the rally? (mental training, strength or endurance training, a diet plan)
Sara: The most important part is the mental aspect. I think this is also something we are less used to training but you need to adopt a holistic approach to riding as well as taking care about your diet (I have a dietitian, who helps me with the nutritional part) and training, both endurance and strength of course! My injury makes it a little difficult to do my strength training. But powering off road created a tailor-made plan for me.
WHEEL SISTERS: In your opinion: What is the most fascinating about the Dakar rally?
Sara: I love to be surrounded by this kind of people. The ones that help you when they do not even know your name. That’s magic!
WHEEL SISTERS: You suffered major injuries in 2018? How was your way back to your strength?
Sara: It was really hard for me to recover from 2018. I had three injuries, one in February, another in March and the last one at Merzouga Rally in April. It took me more than one year to emotionally recover from these episodes.
WHEEL SISTERS: Apart of all your prizes: What are you most proud of?
Sara: Being a role model for other girls. When they say to me: “Now I see you doing this, I feel strong enough to do it too”. That is my best trophy.
WHEEL SISTERS: You are a mechanical engineer and a professional motorcycle racer: But what are you doing in your free time? Where do you calm down and relax?
Sara: Because I spend a lot of time traveling, in my free time I love to be at home, cook and be with my family and friends.
WHEEL SISTERS: Have you experienced any sexism when racing, if so, how do you deal with it? Does it bother you?
Sara: Yes, sometimes people are not very nice… but usually I try to keep great people close to me, so they make up for any negative comments.
WHEEL SISTERS: Although there seem to be more women becoming involved in motorsports, why do you think there are still so few? What should be done to encourage more women to take part?
Sara: It’s just social stuff. When I was a young girl, cars were for boys and dolls for girls. Nowadays it is changing. We have already seen it at moto races, but change is slow; we have to be patient and keep working on this educational part.
WHEEL SISTERS: What advice would you give girls or women wanting to get into motorsport?
Sara: Dream high and work harder.
WHEEL SISTERS: What are your sporting goals in the rally Dakar 2021?
Sara: ‘Just’ finish and enjoy more than last year.