Female racers at 2022 Dakar Rally
Chen Rong

With desert, power, speed and passion, the Dakar Rally never fails to attract female racers because it is the world's longest and toughest off-road event.

Legendary Jutta Kleinschmidt

Jutta Kleinschmidt of Germany made history as the first female racer in the event.

Kleinschmidt debuted on a BMW motorcycle at the Paris-Dakar Rally in 1988.

In 1997, she drove a vehicle of Buggy Schlesser and became the first woman to claim a stage win of the Rally. In 1999, she finished third at the Rally with co-driver Tina Thorner on the vehicle of Mitsubishi Pajero Evolution. In 2001, she made history again as the first woman to win the Rally.

Infographic designed by CGTN's Xing Cheng

Infographic designed by CGTN's Xing Cheng

Dakar 2022

A total of 19 female drivers raced at Dakar 2022, including 11 debutants and two pairs with female co-drivers.

In addition to Quad, Truck and Open events, they raced in five of eight categories – Bike, Car, Light Prototype, Side-by-side small off-road (SSV) vehicle, and Classic.

No. 100 Audrey Rossat

"Usually, I ride between the trees. There (in the Dakar Rally), for kilometers, we are in the middle of the desert! It offers an indescribable serenity," Rossat, who completed her first Dakar Rally in 2021, said in an interview with Dakar Rally.

No. 128 Sandra Gomez (debutant)

"I am very adapted to suffering. In races like Red Bull Romaniacs – one of the toughest in the world – you spend all day suffering. It is a different type of suffering to that of the Dakar … but I have already done that," said Gomez, the first woman from Madrid to compete in the Dakar, reported in January. 

No. 238 Laia Sanz

Sanz made her debut at Dakar Rally in 2011 and managed to complete her race in every edition. "After 11 editions, I think I have achieved things that I would not have imagined before participating in my first Dakar on a motorcycle. During my sports career, I have always liked to get out of my comfort zone," said Sanz, who had Italian Maurizio Gerini as her co-driver.

Gerini participated in four Dakar Rally motorcycle editions and won the Marathon category in 2018 and 2019.

A racing car at stage 5 of the Dakar Rally in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, January 6, 2022. /CFP

A racing car at stage 5 of the Dakar Rally in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, January 6, 2022. /CFP

No. 264 Andrea Lafarja

"Dakar helps to overcome fear and helps you to know yourself better, to play with your own limits and that is why the satisfaction of reaching the finish line is so great," said two-time South American Cross Country champion Lafarja, who debuted in Dakar in 2021. Motorsport is a family tradition for Lafarja, whose father and three of her brothers are all linked to Motorsports.

"I want to leave a mark and a path formed for women who love this sport and want to stand out. Women need more opportunities," she added.

No. 301 Cristina Gutierrez Herrero

"Although Cristina may seem a bit shy, she is an unbeatable partner, a person you can trust, with a big heart. You want to work hard for her and give it you're all. Her race-craft surprises me more and more. What I love is that she doesn't care about being the best of the girls. She wants to be the best period!" said co-driver, Francois Cazalet of France.

Since making her Dakar debut in 2017, Herrero has become the first Spanish woman in the car category of the event. Recently, she raced in different raids and rallies with the focus on Cross-Country World Cup and Extreme E events.

No. 310 Dania Akeel (debutant)

"I never thought of myself as a minority when it came to Motorsports. I was just racing. For me it's a transformation process when you put yourself in a situation when you have to reach your limit and go beyond," said Akeel, whose co-driver is Sergio Lafuente of Uruguay.

No. 311 Camelia Liparoti

"I'm not only a driver. I am part of the project of creating a brand-new vehicle," said Liparoti, who is well known in the rally series as "Pink Panther" and has raced in 15 editions of Dakar Rally.

"Dakar for me is not only a race but a real project, I'm more than a driver, I feel more responsibility," she added. 

No. 321 Annett Fischer of Germany and her co-driver Annie Seel of Sweden race during the Light Prototype category at stage 18 of the Dakar Rally in Hail, Saudi Arabia, January 2, 2022. /CFP

No. 321 Annett Fischer of Germany and her co-driver Annie Seel of Sweden race during the Light Prototype category at stage 18 of the Dakar Rally in Hail, Saudi Arabia, January 2, 2022. /CFP

No. 321 Annett Fischer

Fischer debuted in Dakar in 2019. This year, she picked a two-women team with Annie Seel of Sweden as her co-driver. "The most important thing, if you're trying to survive the Dakar, is to get on with your co-driver."

No. 323 Maria Oparina (debutant)

Russian Oparina made her Dakar debut this year along with experienced Belarusian co-driver Andrei Rudnitski. Owning a team bearing her name, Oparina won the Silk Way Rally twice, and the Russian championship, all in the T3 category.

"It's a big surprise for me, because I was only coming to Dakar as the team manager. But two weeks ago, our driver Anvar Ergashev broke his hand at Hail Rally, and unfortunately it was impossible for him to do anything with this damage. Everything was ready: the car, truck, mechanics, media… so it would have been very sad to lose our place! That's why I'm driving on the Dakar, and it's my first Dakar," said Oparina, who believes her father's job as a pilot has inspired her passion for technical vehicles and Motorsport.

No. 332 Mashael Alobaidan (debutant)

"I have always been interested in sports and outdoor activities. Always being next to the sea, I soon became a PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) certified advanced scuba-diver and a free-diver. The beauty of the places I was lucky to discover sparked my passion in photography as well, to best capture the moments I truly cherished," said Abobaidan, who had Italian Jacopo Cerutti as her co-driver.

No. 347 Pascale Jaffrennou (debutant)

Sixty-year-old Jaffrennou, from France, kicked off her maiden Dakar race this year after temporarily putting aside her interest in cycling and judo as a high-level practitioner. She chose compatriot Francoise Hollender as her co-driver, who is the founder of a company providing parts for 4X4 vehicles and started racing in 2020.

"My brothers were already riding motorcycles and my mother did not want me to go. I then decided to drive in the French championship up to the Suzuki Cup at the wheel of a Swift."

A herd of camels are seen along the route of the Dakar Rally, January 9, 2022. /CFP

A herd of camels are seen along the route of the Dakar Rally, January 9, 2022. /CFP

No. 356 Merce Marti (debutant)

Merce Marti and her co-driver Margot Llobera of Andorra debuted at this year's Dakar Rally. Marti led the first all-women team featuring two mechanics, a team coordinator, a team leader and the driver herself.

"The Dakar has always been a sporting event that I have followed with passion," said Marti, who team was made up of five women "with the aim of vindicating the female presence in rally raids, making our goals visible and creating benchmarks for future generations."

"This 100 percent female project is something truly bold and I'm super happy because they called me to be involved," Llobera said.

No. 408 Molly Taylor (debutant)

"I come from a family of Motorsports. My grandfather was in rallying and my mother was a 4-time Australian champion as a co-driver. I started at the age of 15, so I can say that Motorsports are my life," said Taylor, the first female and youngest winner of the Australian Rally Championship.

No. 465 Tatiana Sycheva (debutant)

Sycheva was the first woman from Russia to compete in the Dakar Rally in the category of side-by-side vehicle on four wheels. She took part in home-soil races such as Baja Russia and Silk Way Rally.

No. 705 Amy Lerner

Lerner and her co-driver Sara Carmen Bossaert are from different walks of life.

Lerner has worked on Wall Street, in real estate and more recently the film industry, while Bossaert is an architect and competitive sailor from Spain. Lerner won the Dekar Challenge in 2013 and the duo finished second in the 2021 Dakar's Classic Rally and 15th overall out of the 24 vehicles.

"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. To me, racing is racing, and gender doesn't really play a part. Other than being a greater curiosity at the gas stations than a male team, we really didn't see any impact based on our gender," Lerner told Autoweek in an interview in January.

No. 734 Rebecca Busi (debutant)

"In Classic (races), you never go at 100 percent risk, but you always go faster than normal comfort speed anyway," said Busi, whose co-driver is Roberto Musi, an Italian veteran of navigation and racing in the desert.

No. 743 Audrey Sireyjol (debutant)

Audrey Sireyjol paired with her father Patrick Sireyjol to kick off her first and the father-instructor's 34th Dakar journey in 2022.

"Even if I'm not a great athlete, I prepare myself and I have the mind. I would have my father next to me, I am absolutely not worried," said the daughter, who is an interior designer.

"It's an opportunity to share everything I've experienced in rallying for 30 years," added the father.

Competitors ride during stage 7 of the Dakar Rally between the Saudi capital Riyadh and Al-Dawadimi town, Saudi Arabia, January 9, 2022. /CFP

Competitors ride during stage 7 of the Dakar Rally between the Saudi capital Riyadh and Al-Dawadimi town, Saudi Arabia, January 9, 2022. /CFP

No. 755 Olga Rouckova

"I like a challenge. I am always up for something new and in terms of budget the Dakar Classic is a lot more accessible than other categories," said Rouckova, the first Czech woman to race in Dakar. She finished 26th in Quads in 2018 and 20th in SSV in 2019.

No. 819 Noemi Rodriguez Moreno (debutant)

Noemi Rodriguez Moreno had her husband Raul Guzman Villa as co-driver this year.

"My father and brother are mechanics and my brother competed in 4x4 trials. When I was 18 years old, I started competing and since then I have been to multiple local and regional trials," said Moreno, who had been out of racing for eight years following a terrible crash.

"Over the years I got back behind the wheel and now I face an incredible challenge. If the car holds, I'm going to hold," she added.

"I have always competed as a co-pilot because I like navigation much more," said the husband.

(All data and some interviews via

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