Who’s the greatest female motorcycle racer in the world? If you answered “Laia Sanz,” you might be right. There are no female riders in the top tiers of MotoGP or World Superbike, and certainly none that are consistent top-20 finishers in those elite racing series. But Laia? She’s a regular top-20 rider at Dakar, even finishing 15th one year—although she doesn’t ride as fast as the aliens, her racecraft lets her consistently beat many of the world’s top male rally riders. She’s also one of the world’s top female trials riders, with a long list of gold medals in international and national competition.
So what makes her tick? What’s her background? Where’d she come from? How’d she start riding?
Laia’s riding for GasGas these days, back where she started—in her early days, she won trials trophies aboard GasGas. Now, the company is basically just KTM with a red paint job (remember, KTM now controls GasGas, and their bikes are based around the same mechanical bits). The marketeers have put this video together talking about their star rider, her background, and her tough 2021 race at Dakar.
Going into the 2021 Dakar, Sanz was recovering from Lymes disease. That would be enough to keep many riders home, but Sanz pressed on to finish 17th overall—once again the top female rider.
But, maybe that will change. Sanz says “For women competing in offroad sports, everything is really improving at the moment. Not just with trial but motocross and enduro as well. When I started, I was pretty much the only woman out there and now I can see many other girls riding trial. I think the same is happening in all other sports too. I think this is really good and I see federations and brands beginning to support women in more sports. Women can take part in sports just like men and at the end of the day, it’s a big market as well.”
In other words: Sanz is paving the way for her competition to have success in offroad racing. It doesn’t seem like she’s worried about it, though!