The Spanish pilot Laia Sanz ended the 2023 edition of the Dakar Rally with “a bittersweet taste”, a race where she had complications “from the beginning” and that she would have preferred to have them better “at the end”, and showed her desire to do the ‘raid’ without real problems to see how far “he can go” in cars, where he does not rule out “the ‘Top 10-15′”.

“On the one hand, I am super happy to have finished it because when things get so difficult from the beginning, finishing a Dakar always has a lot of merit, but we did not meet expectations and we are left with something of a bittersweet taste. We finished, but knowing that we can be competitive and that we had the pace to do well”, explained Sanz in an interview with Europa Press.

The Catalan is also clear that the car has behaved “better” than expected and joked about relating her thirteenth participation with the number of bad luck. “I didn’t believe in that, but in the end I thought that I did have some bad luck,” she stressed after a ‘raid’ with many problems from the start.

For the driver, finishing a Dakar “is always very difficult because a thousand things can always happen that are out of your control” and for this reason she values ​​”a lot” having been able to do it once again and maintain her good statistics of no abandonment in her participations. “But this year leaves me with a bittersweet taste, we knew we could have done much more,” she reiterated.

In this sense, she assures that it is not “easy” for someone as “competitive” as her and knowing that they could “be ahead” having dealt with so many complications. “It was having a problem the day before, getting off the 140 and eating the slow track. It’s hard to get out of that loop and you have to be patient, but you learn from everything. You played this Dakar and you had to get the best you could every day” he admitted.

The biggest scare occurred in stage 5 when they suffered a very strong accident. “I have rolled in Extreme E, but it was nothing comparable. I think it was at 147 km/h and it is not pleasant, but what annoyed me the most was knowing why because we suddenly found ourselves rolling. Luckily there was nothing that stopped us, the car was slowing down and it was just a good ‘spin'”, he explained.

“Luckily it is a very safe car, but we thought we were already out. We took five minutes to return to Earth, we saw that the important thing was more or less fine, we notified the team and we began to disassemble it. That was intelligent because when The team arrived, had done a part of the work and we arrived at the closed gate very tightly. Then, there was a brutal job from the team, the assistance truck and the mechanics”, he added.

Sanz knows that in this case they were “lucky” that the mishap was at “kilometer 30”. “It happens to you in the middle and the assistance takes too many hours to arrive. We lost relatively little and we were able to finish at night without light and without brakes, an odyssey that I will remember and that now no longer seems so ‘dodgy'” , remarked the Spanish.


“I would have preferred things to happen to us at the end. It’s very sad if you’re doing a great Dakar, but you know you’ve been able to do good stages, which was the goal. It was difficult at times, something was always happening and the last few days were a little survival because in the dunes the ‘buggy’ has a harder time, while the ones where it was stronger were where we had the most problems. It wasn’t a very good Dakar, but I’ll take what I’ve learned, these are with the most that you learn”, warned the one from Corbera de Llobregat.

The Barcelonan ran this edition with a new team, the Astara, with which she noticed a “difference” compared to 2022 with Mini, “a great car”, but penalized by “regulations and T1+”. “This year having gone with a ‘buggy’, but with the big wheel, it was very noticeable and I could run more. I am happy with the sensations and the rhythm, but practically no good days came out,” she lamented.

“The car is good, what happens is that it was a last-minute project and it caught us all against the clock and you start off a bit on the wrong foot. You can do well in the Dakar with this car, but I would like to prepare the project next year with more time to be all more prepared. You have to arrive at a Dakar very prepared”, stressed Sanz, who “still” has not spoken with Astara for the next edition.

The Catalan does not hide that she really likes the ‘raid’ and that her desire is to be “in an interesting project and to be ahead”. “I think I can, otherwise I wouldn’t be there. With the bike I started learning and in the end I was in the top 10-15, the same thing can happen in the car. It’s more difficult to find the way, but it’s my goal,” he stressed. .

Regarding the tour, he confessed that he liked it “a lot”. “It has been a great Dakar and I congratulated David Castera (director). It has returned to being a Dakar because the last few years it was ceasing to be and nothing happened. It was a bit Baja style, it went very fast, but this has been more hard, it was a real Dakar”, he pointed out. “It’s okay that not everyone can finish it, it’s part of his magic, some years it was too easy to finish it,” he stressed.


And he believes that this type of tour can give him “more options.” “Going with a head and a bit of strategy you could get a good result. I think the ‘Top 10’ is possible, but I am very ‘anti’ to say ‘what if’ in the Dakar because then we would all win it and everyone will pass it things. What I want is to have a ‘clean’ year and see where I can get to. By rhythm I think that this year the ‘Top 10-15’ was realistic”, he stated.

“A country as big as Saudi Arabia can do a lot more in a Dakar. Argentina and Chile were very nice, but we ended up repeating a lot and not here, they have plenty of space. The good thing is that they listened to the teams and the drivers and made a change really”, declared on the future of the ‘raid’ in the Asian country.

Instead, it also makes it clear that “the cool thing is that there is as much equality as possible” between the teams. “It’s been more busy this year and with more variety ahead, and that’s good. I’d like to see that all the teams have options,” said the Spanish rider.

Sanz also considers that everything that has happened to her has to make her “stronger” and help her “carry situations forward”, and that although “you always have to analyze to learn” after a race, she prefers to do it “little”. “I don’t want to martyr myself too much and I want to think about the future because it’s not worth getting stuck in this Dakar,” she confessed.

The Spaniard also acknowledges that she has done “very well” for two years in Extreme E, where she has the “honor” of sharing a team with Carlos Sainz and from whom she has learned “a lot”. “My evolution has been very great. They are short races and few kilometers, but I have been taking advantage of them very well for driving, setting up and understanding the car, it is a brutal experience,” she related.

“Carlos has surprised me with the patience he had with me last year when I was still ‘green’ because no one is born taught. He gives me a lot of advice, not only for Extreme E, but for a little bit of everything and I am very grateful to him,” he said. Sanz.