Dakar was a great success and a dramatic adventure as always!
I finished 45th overall moto, and winner of the Women’s Trophy. And survived jumping off the bike in mid air, while the bike tumbled 5 meters down a tomb with steep walls. Race director Etienne Lavigne arrived some hours later to save my bike by helicopter so I could continue…
Well, in Dakar anything can happen!
The rally through Argentina and Chile was again fantastic, and meeting all the happy crowds along the route makes the South America so special. I want to thank all the people cheering, helping and supporting me during the race!
The rally started well for me, moving up to top 40th position first week. Unluckily I injured and ruptured ligaments on my right thumb,already on stage 3, so I almost could not hold on to the handlebars. Despite this I could keep a good pace.
On stage 7 my rear wheel bearing broke, and I rode some 400 kms with the broken wheel – nobody thought I would make it, but I rode really carefully all the way.
And on the 8th stage was the “Tomb” where I again had a dramatic moment but survived and finished the stage. From here on the rally was nice and I felt very relaxed all the way to the finish!
There are so many I want to thank…
First of all, my family and friends. My “Super” sister Eila, that is always there for me and also updating my blog, day and night. And my “press officer” Marie Hessel. My boyfriend Henrik that puts up with my Dakar-focus-bubble. My friends that always support me, Magnus helping in the garage, Camilla fixing my “princess-hair”..
My sponsors and team… Thanks for supporting me.
Main sponsor Elmborgs Dental Care, a sponsor that is truly devoted to motorsports. Lindroths Maskin, also passionate about motorracing. KTM Motorcycles – the best bike! Michelin – the best tyres fromDekkPartner. Team Meca’System, best rally kit and assistance team
And all my support and product sponsors… thanks for helping me.
The list: Karnag AB, IVV AB, Loctite, Exclusive Cars, Hot Snacks, Shore AB, PME Film, Coaltrane AB, Lelles MC, MC Sport, Bengt Norrmans Åkeri, Anders Andersson Åkeri, Art’n’Dito, ProService, Real Wear riding equipment, Grahns/X-lite helmets & Gaerne boots, MotoSpeed/Öhlins, Moto Aventures Offroad Tours, HittaData, Kå-Hås Bilplåt & Lack, Mattssons Smide.
And my supporters everywhere.
The people of Argentina and Chile! Your warm welcome and passion for the race is overwhelming. Thanks for giving a helping hand when needed. It has been absolutely fantastic meeting you out there, and on Facebook! Like fan club “Mujeres Tuercas”. You made me fight harder.
Coast to coast and back 9.000 km
Description of courses & landscape: video.EUROSPORT.se
As South Amerca is on the southern hemisphere th navigation is different to us from the north, it is all up-side-down. Having the sun on your back means your nose points to south (instead of to north), also east and west change places. Your inner compass gets a little confused until you get used to this.
This year the bikers and cars are separated in some sections due to safty reasons. The speed difference between top cars and amateur bikers is very big, causing a lot of dangerous situations at overtaking and the whirling dust caused poor visibility.
Opening. Fri Jan 1. Buenos Aires
Starting ceremony and prologue. Connection only 30 km.
The weather will be quite warm, over 30 dgrC, that means “boiling” engines at the crawling speed through the city. Last year there were 500.000 spectators waving and cheering!
ARGENTINA, stage 1-3: altitude 400-2500 m
Stage 1. Sat Jan 2. Buenos Aires > Cordoba
Bikes Special : 219 km / Total : 652 km
Cars & trucks have a separate course.
The race starts outside BA. A classic rally leg on-pist (not much off road). It will be tricky and dusty. The first day starting is in numerical, so a good start position is important as you can’t affect the boot order.
Stage 2. Sun Jan 3 . Cordoba > La Rioja
Bikes Special : 294 km / Liaison : 276 km / Total : 626 km
Cars & trucks have a separate course.
Still on-pist, but the bikers track will be jumpy with many tricky curves. Then more flat and rocky terrain. During the first days you must really watch out and learn the markings and warning signs in the roadbook.
Stage 3. Mon Jan 4. La Rioja > Fiambala
Special : 182 km / Total : 441 km
The first area with dunes, about 30 km of white sand, often hit by sandstorm. Could be very troublesome as we are riding off-road usin only the compass. The wind changes the dunes making unexpected soft holes – not nice to get trapped in a sand pit! Already on this stage there may be many changes in the resultlist. Last year half of the cars did not finish the stage! And I think it was here I hit the shoulder out of joint. Ouch…
CHILE, stage 4-10: altitude 0-3150 m
Stage 4. Tue Jan 5. Fiambala > Copiapo
Special : 394 km / Total : 629 km. Spec shortened to 350 km!
Connection early in the morning passing the boarder at Andes Cordillera and 100 km at 4000 meters above sea level. Ice cold and exhausting, one of the most dangerous legs due to thin air on this high altitude causing oxygen deficiency in both humans and machines. Malfunction of the brain occurs, hallucinations, falling asleep while driving a motorcycle.
The special is only 200 km, but the first encounter with heavy sand in Atacama desert. Adjusting the enging after loosing effect in the thin air is essential. Injection facilitates adjustment of the engine, but the majority of motorcycles have carburetors.
Stage 5. Wed Jan 6th. Copiapo > Antofagasta
Special : 483 km / Total : 670 km
Now the drivers start feeling that the competition is for real. A demanding stage mentally and physically, keeping the focus. Changing speed, from high speed in the first part to off-piste and insidious fesh-fesh (dust making visibility to zero – “If You See fesh-fesh, dont go in it”). Many warnings in the roadbook, and there may be some coincide on this route. A great change of tempo between the high speed at a more technical run tend to be dangerous, because it is easy to miss the warnings.
Stage 6. Thu Jan 7. Antofagasta > Iquique
Special : 418 km / Total : 598 km
The dust can cause problems, when navigation is partially off-piste and you have to rely on the visibility. Meanwhile, the terrain allows fast riding, so you just have to keep the speed up. If you are lucky to ride in “dustfree” air, just keep going fast so no-one can overtake you! The last part of this stage, 50 km through “african style” dunes concludes today’s challenges. After the last ridge of sand awaits a 3 km long descent towards the sea. The view must be fantastic.
Stage 7. Fri Jan 8. Iquique > Antofagasta
Special : 600 km / Total : 641 km
This is the longest rally special stage and will be the most diverse. In addition to sand dunes, the contestants cross a 30 km wide area with large dry salt blocks – here is only very slow speed possible. But then you should switch up to full speed on quick sand roads for very many miles. It does not sound like a difficult day, but to make it safe, the organization has increased maximum time for this section – you may even stay overnight on the track and arrive the next day at 18.00. This may be an indication of how difficult the stage could be.
Rest day & service. Sat Jan 9. Antofagasta
A chance to take a late morning. Especially nice for us bikers who often get up at 4 in the morning, as we start the first. Now I can eat a double breakfast, as I don’t like to eat much very early in the morning. there is much action in the bivouac the whole day long, the bikes and cars will be properly serviced and repaired. I usually will review the condition of the bike with the mechanic. If possible I wash some clothes that are quite dusty, and I check my other equipment.
Stage 8. Sun Jan 10. Antofagasta > Copiapo
Special : 472 km / Total : 568 km
Starting after the service day may be a little slow to get going againg, almost easier just to keep on non-stop.
The first section can be foggy, so there’s a change that the start will be delayed – but hopefully not. In the fog it is too risky for the helicopters to lift, so the start must be postponed till the fog dissipates. Catching up the timeloss will be hard as this is a long stage.
The first part is rocky and requires vigilance. Next part goes through sand dunes in the Atacama desert. Somewhere halfway on the rally usually also half of the starters may have withdrawn. Then the rules can be modified, to enable the remaining competitors to complete the race.
Stage 9. Mon Jan 11. Copiapo > La Serena
Special : 338 km / Total : 547 km. Special shortened to 170 km!
The start will be crowdy and stressful, groups of 20 bikes kicking off at the same time, not one by one at intervals as usual. Like at the last leg on the beach in Dakar. This is the last difficult stage in the desert with free navigation. It will be a tough competition between the top drivers – wild chasing, calculating and fishy tactics…
Stage 10. Tue Jan 12. La Serena > Santiago
Special : 238 km / Total : 586 km
Now it gets curvy again and the terrain is hilly, a fun stage but it is easy to make mistakes – little to gain, much to lose. More vegetation where you must keep on track, no free navigation possible. Aiming for the Chilean capital Santiago, probably with crowds of cheering spectators: Chi-chi-chi Le-le-le, Chile, Chile, Chile!
ARGENTINA, stage 11-14: altitude 50-3500 m
Stage 11. Wed Jan 13. Santiago > San Juan
Special : 220 km / Total : 434 km
The special starts after a liaison over the border crossing at an altitude of 3500 meters, with a view of the South America’s highest mountain Aconcagua, 6859 m high. The first part of the route is over the mountains at high altitude, so it’s very important to adjust the engines so that the power dissipation won’t be too large. Then follows a 20 km long steep downward ride that can overheat the brakes.
Stage 12. Thu January 14. San Juan > San Rafael
Special : 476 km / Total : 796 km
The longest distance of the rally goes through dinosaur territory, where rivers once created deep canyons and wide furrows across the land. Probably we will ride in these grooves here and there, somewhat like toboggan – fun but dangerous. It’s important to focus on navigation. It is easy to go into the wrong canyon and lose time, or run down into a deep furrow in the terrain and tip (topple) over (overturn). Halfway is a liaison through a protected area. The last special is more than 200 km sand ride with whoopies, which really weakes the arms, even the top bikers don’t make over 100 km/h on average.
Stage 13. Fri Jan15. San Rafael > Santa Rosa
Special : 368 km / Total : 725 km
Be prepared for a dramatic stage, a crucial last challenge over the gray sand dunes in Nihuil. The sand with tufts of grass is really difficult to ride through. Last year many rivers got stuck here, and Tina Thörner’s crew was disqualified. It also rained and hailed here in the evening, when I struggled after the crash when I broke both my nose, handlebars and the front part of the bike. Indeed no lovely memories. If you get through these difficult conditions, just hurry home to the bivouac!
Stage 14. Sat Jan16. Santa Rosa > Buenos Aires
Special : 206 km / Total : 707 km
Now it’s a ride back home on top gear. But don’t relax yet nor take a chance and make mistakes on the last day. Ride only by safety – there is nothing to gain taking chances, but everything to lose. It always surprises me when drivers crash the last day just before the finish, the great goal of Dakar rally. What a disappointment not to complete the race, and see all the others celebrating, with a big kiss-and-hug-party…
Despite many setbacks and injuries, I have done all my rallies to the end, even with bad results sometimes. So I never needed to grieve and to refrain from celebrations. I’m happy for that.
Finish events. Jan 17th. Buenos Aires
A podium ceremony for all those who completed the rally. Competitors meet spectators – cheering, congratulatios… And then goodbye to friends and fans. ;-(
See you next year!