GasGas Factory Racing’s Laia Sanz has successfully completed the opening 752-kilometre stage of the 2020 Dakar Rally, finishing a tough first day of competition in 21st position. Marking the start of her 10th participation in the iconic annual event, Laia placed her GasGas RC 450F just over 23 minutes behind stage winner Toby Price while comfortably finishing as the lead female competitor.

Laia Sanz safely completes stage one of 2020 Dakar Rally
752-kilometre stage from Jeddah to Al Wajh a true mix of Saudi Arabian terrain
Challenging Dakar Rally continues with ‘super marathon’ stage two

Laia Sanz: “It was not a perfect day, but I am happy. It was a real Dakar stage, certainly not a gentle start to the event. I began close to the front and although the navigation wasn’t too tricky you had to stay really well focused and concentrate in case of some silly mistakes. I tried to really make sure that my navigation was good and to get used to the terrain and the speeds here. I know I can ride faster but today was all about not making mistakes. The terrain was quite varied with some difficult stony sections. Again, it would have been easy to fall and damage the bike, so I didn’t take any risks.”

Challenging riders from the off, the 2020 Dakar Rally fired into life with a long and demanding stage one that gave competitors their first true taste of the Saudi Arabian terrain on which they will compete for the next 12 days. Starting in Jeddah and finishing in Al Wajh day one featured a 319 km special stage.

As the 11th rider to leave the start this morning, Laia opted for a cautious approach to the third-longest stage of the event. Wanting to get a good feeling with the varied terrain and to avoid mistakes at all costs, she made her way through the opening five waypoints inside the top 20, eventually placing 21st for the day.

Stage two of the 2020 Dakar Rally will also be the first super marathon stage, where only 10 minutes of mechanical repair time is permitted for each bike competitor. Laia will face a 393-kilometre stage from Al Wajh to Neom, comprising a 367 km special stage together with a 26 km liaison.

Results (provisional): Dakar Rally 2020, stage 1

  1. Toby Price (KTM) 3:19:33
  2. Ricky Brabec (Honda) 3:21:38 + 0:02:05
  3. Matthias Walkner (KTM) 3:22:13 + 0:02:40
  4. Laia Sanz (GasGas) 3:43:18 + 0:23:45

Courtesy GasGas