After going through the mechanical to check the blows he has taken (on the hip, sternum and index finger), and to hug Cas and Mina and Cigró – his two bitches and his cat -, Laia Sanz Pla-Giribert (Corbera de Llobregat, 1985) begins today his physical and mental recovery of Dakar 2020where has it ended 18th on motorcycles Before “making a few days of panching “Skiing and in some tropical paradise, the pilot of Gas gas I visited The vanguard to explain his experience and his renewed vision.
A NEW APPROACH
“If the Dakar depends on the risk you are willing to take, I don’t want to enter; I didn’t want to play it with me ”
With what sensations have you returned from your 10th Dakar?
With a kind of mix: good because I have completed 10 out of 10, which is a historical and very difficult fact, but I can’t forget what happened in the second week either. It has been very hard in the psychological aspect. It’s a mix: the result is fine, finishing in the top 20 for the last 7 years, which is always difficult, but I’m ambitious and I would have liked to finish a little later.
What gives more value, to finish 10 Dakares in a row or do it in the top 20?
Finishing 10 Dakares is very beast; no Spanish has succeeded and we have had high level pilots. And foreigners there are only two, Cyril Despres and Hélder Rodrigues. In addition, it is also valuable to finish the last 7 years in the top 20, fighting near the top 15, regularly, doing quite well.
Do you think you are given enough merit? It seems to be normal …
Yes, it is assumed that you have to finish the Dakar, that you do it in the top 15 and make it easy. Every year there is more level, everything is more professional, there are more brands, there is a new generation … It costs more and more. That it has gone so well in recent years may not be valued too much. The 9th place in the Dakar 2015 set the bar very high and does not help much: it seems that everything that is out of the top 10 is bad, and it is not. The 12th of last year was almost more valuable than the 9th of 2015, and the 18th of this year is not bad either, because the level of pilots is now brutal.
His challenge was to complete 10 out of 10, rather than reaching a top 5, unreal. What goal is set now?
I do not know. Let this Dakar rest and reflect. Seeing how this Dakar has been, every time I feel more like going on all four wheels. I do not know if I will have the option of arriving soon or not, but I am already thinking about it.
For the death of Gonçalves?
Even if Paulo had not died … If the Dakar tends towards such rapid stages, I have options to do it well. In the second week the experience of driving was not very important, nor the navigation, which are my great qualities. Or the hardness of the stages, physical, that things happen … If the future of the Dakar is that, it is no longer a matter of knowing how to do it, but of wanting. I have been many years, I have seen many falls, and surely if the Dakar depends on the risk that you are willing to assume, I surely would not enter to play. It is a rare sensation. I have been 18th and I feel good because I have returned home whole. With everything that has happened I have not really wanted to play it to enter the top 15. Surely another year would have fought more. With all that we have lived, he went to the background.
Does losing a friend change the vision of the competition?
To all. When we passed the accident site we were aware of what was happening; Seeing Toby’s face (Price) we understood. It became very difficult to finish the remaining 250 km; I could not open gas. The rest of the days became difficult because the type of stage did not help. Paulo was one of the most beloved types. If you see it selfishly, you think it could have been you.
Are you afraid to continue running on a motorcycle?
I have seen serious accidents with colleagues, such as Pela Renet, who broke her neck (in Atacama, in 2017) and had to stop running. When you’ve seen a few closely, serious injuries, you calm down. And age (34 years) makes you think …
With this vision, can you expect me to jump into the cars soon?
Hopefully! It is a difficult time to make the jump, but every time I see it closer. And more after this year.
How many more years on a motorcycle?
I do not know. Really. It will depend on how I feel. I have two more years of contract (with KTM-Gas Gas), but I don’t know. If I see the time to make the change before, I will. So far I have not had any offer, nor have I seriously thought about it. But this Dakar has given me a lot to think about, to rethink things.
How has Saudi Arabia treated her as a woman?
I must say that well, however, being honest, we have not lived too much with the population. The bivouac is a world apart, do not mix with the locals and I can not comment. I was more afraid of what I found there in the end.
Yes, he lived an episode of gender discrimination.
Before leaving, in Jeddah, I went to the hotel gym with Sam (Sunderland; KTM pilot), to see how it was. We enter. It was a brutal gym with equipment and machines, but they kindly threw me out. They told me there was another room for women, which was quite shabby, with two bikes and four tackle.
How did it sit?
I was not surprised because it was so warned that, unfortunately, you take it in a normal way.
And with the other bans?
All right. I don’t like ham, but I missed the fuet. Pilots are not affected much by the lack of alcohol, but by mechanics, who drink their beer at the end of the day. But some supply had … (laughs).
And the restrictions on signs of affection? Now that her boyfriend, Jaume Betriu competed …
There in the bivouac we have made normal life (he nods). At first you were scared and avoided greeting by kissing, but in the end we ended up hugging, kissing, and there was no problem.
Have you thought about quitting?
For being in Arabia? No. When someone is sent to work, they will like it more or less, but it goes. This is our job. If the country is somehow opening up, maybe we can help more by going.