• Lima, Jan 6: Spanish motorcyclist Laia Sanz, one of only 14 women competing in the motorbike category of the 2018 Dakar Rally feels that the process of expanding female participation in the event will be a gradual one.

    Sanz, 32, reflected on the presence of women in the event as she prepared to ride in her 8th Dakar, where female competitors will make up only 10 percent of the 140-strong field in the motorbike race, reports Efe.

    “We need a few years to see more women in the Dakar,” she told Efe.

    “We need to wait for them to develop and to have the support to participate in the rally.”

    The 13-time Women’s Trial World Champion rider holds the distinction of achieving the highest-ever finish for a female competitor in the Dakar: 9th place overall in the motorbike class in the 2015 edition of the event.

    The Spanish rider has also reached the finish line in all seven of her previous appearances in the Dakar.

    While she considers finishing in the top-15 overall a “realistic” goal for this year’s race, Sanz said she’s hoping to reach to the top 10 for a second time.

    “I come here encouraged because I have experience, which is always good in a race of this kind and especially this year, which will be a very tough year,” she said.

    The course for the 2018 Dakar Rally extends nearly 9,000 kilometers (5,600 miles) from Lima to the Argentine city of Cordoba.

    This year’s 40th anniversary race marks a decade since the event was moved from Africa to South America due to security concerns.

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