Laia Sanz and GASGAS Factory Racing have completed their pre-Dakar testing and are now counting down the days to the start of their epic New Year adventure. Soon to be rolling up her sleeves and getting stuck into the 2021 Dakar Rally, Laia will take to the start of her 11th Dakar in a little over two weeks’ time as she looks to further cement her position as one of the event’s true greats.

Laia to contest her 11th Dakar Rally in 2021
GASGAS RC 450F to make its second appearance at famous event
12-stage event to cover 7,646 km, including 4,767 km of timed specials

In what has been a difficult year for all, for Laia recent months have been especially challenging due to contracting Lyme Disease during the summer, making her final Dakar preparations more complicated than normal. However, with support from her team, friends, and sponsors, Laia believes she is now ready to take on the world’s toughest cross-country rally. The RC 450F rider is fully focused on completing her 11th consecutive Dakar and delivering another strong result.

The 43rd edition of the race will see an increased emphasis placed on rider navigation and competitor’s abilities to tackle slower-speed, technical terrain, which is great news for Laia. Reducing the event’s average speeds, with her ability to both navigate well while under pressure and complete long stages with the minimum of mistakes, Laia is upbeat about this year’s route.

With the 2021 Dakar Rally once again being held in the Middle East, the event will start and finish at the Red Sea coastal city of Jeddah. Like all competitors, Laia will face a short qualifying prologue on Saturday, January 2, before starting the rally proper and 12 long and demanding stages covering a total of 7,646 km. With a rest day in Ha’il midway through the race, Laia will then work her way back to Jeddah on January 15, having raced 4,767 km of timed special stages against the clock.

With bikes and vehicles already on their way to Jeddah for the start of the race, GASGAS Factory Racing are pleased to announce a couple of changes in the team’s sponsor structure. Laia will wear KENNY race clothing for her assault on the 2021 Dakar and receive added support from long-time sponsor KH7.

Laia Sanz: “It’s been a really tough year for me, so to be able to look forward to racing the 2021 Dakar means so much. I injured my hand on the second stage of this year’s Dakar, back in January, and although I carried on and completed the event the injury turned out to be worse than we thought. It took a while at the beginning of the year to recover from that. I was really looking forward to start training on my GASGAS trial and enduro bikes, and maybe fitting in some events. Unfortunately, when I was finally able to get out on my bikes again, I started to feel ill. Eventually I was diagnosed with Lyme Disease, which made me feel very unwell. Thankfully, with the right treatment I have been able to start riding again. I know I’m not 100% and we’ll have to see just how I feel when the rally starts in January. It helps that we have some experience now of the terrain we will face, and the way things work with the move to the Middle East. The event in January should also be a little more technical and with tougher navigation, so I’m looking forward to that. I don’t want to put any pressure on myself, and another finish would be incredible, but my main goal is to go there and just enjoy the race.”

Jordi Viladoms – GASGAS Rally Team Manager: “Laia is a true champion, a real fighter, and even though this year has been difficult for her we know she will do all she can to be competitive at Dakar. She knows very well how to manage the race and her finishing record is incredible, it really shows how determined she is as a racer, and how she understands the real challenge of Dakar. With this year’s route looking like it will be more technical, I’m sure it will suit her really well. What she lacks in terms of time riding her bike in recent months I am sure she can make up for with her experience and determination. Dakar is always difficult, but Laia always rises to the challenge.”




Close on the heels of an exciting win at the BAJA Portalegre, Hero MotoSports Team Rally, the motorsport team of the world’s largest two-wheeler manufacturer Hero MotoCorp, today unveiled its plans for the Dakar Rally 2021.

Participating with a full strength three rider team, Hero MotoSports will take on the Dakar 2021 with the 2020 FIM Cross-Country BAJAs World Cup winner – Sebastian Buhler, 2019 Pan Africa Rally winner – Joaquim Rodrigues and ace Indian rider – CS Santosh.

This will be the second official appearance for Sebastian in Hero colors at the Dakar, while it will be the fifth appearance for both JRod and Santosh.

The riders will take on the Dakar challenge on a new Hero 450 Rally bike, which now features a new 450cc engine and evolved Chassis. The engine, developed especially for rally sport, offers improved top speed and acceleration. With an optimum weight balance, better rider ergonomics, more voluminous fuel-tank, improved suspension and cooling system, the new bike is built for juggling the dual roles of covering long strides at a heightened pace.

The Team will also be seen in a new Livery, sporting a futuristic “Barcode” inspired design aesthetic, to showcase the technical edge of our Rally team.

In view of the ongoing pandemic, it was a comparatively shorter #RoadToDakar for the Team in 2020. Yet, the Team made its presence felt with an impressive comeback in competitive racing with the BAJA Portalegre and the Andalucia Rally. Gaining valuable race-experience, all three riders of the Team utilized these races to acquire some saddle time and proficiency, ahead of the Dakar 2021.

Wolfgang Fischer, Team Manager, Hero MotoSports Team Rally: “This is an emotional return for us at Dakar after the tragic event earlier this year. We are determined to put on a good show. While we were away from racing for quite some time due to the pandemic, we utilised the time to develop the new bike and conduct thorough testing sessions with our riders, thus, keeping the team engaged and motivated in the most challenging times. We are excited for the next few weeks as we aim to sustain our momentum and garner good results this year. The new bike is performing well and the Team looks stunning in the new Livery.”

Joaquim Rodrigues, Rider, Hero MotoSports Team Rally: “Dakar Rally will not be the same for me after the tragic experience of January 2020. It ha.s been a tough year for me and my family. However, the experience has taught me a lot – how to stay undeterred and resilient in the worst of situations and the team has also supported me a lot to keep me motivated and engaged. While we didn’t have much time to prepare this year, our testing sessions on the new bike and the recent runs at BAJA Portalegre and Andalucia Rally 2020 helped me overcome my fears and find the momentum as I made the comeback. It’s going to be a tough emotional battle for me but I’m ready to face it and take on the Dakar for one more time.”

Sebastian Buhler, Rider, Hero MotoSports Team Rally: “My first year with Hero MotoSports has been an exciting one. Though there weren’t many opportunities to race in 2020, I am glad that we are entering the Dakar Rally after two impressive runs in the recent months. We utilized the time away from racing in training on the new bike and that kept our energies high. For me personally, entering the Rally straight after the Baja win will help to stay focused. All I can say is that I am thrilled to be a part of the Hero MotoSports family and looking forward to the Dakar 2021 Rally.”

CS Santosh, Rider, Hero MotoSports Team Rally said, “This has been an exceptional year with limited races and opportunities to train, yet we are satisfied with the preparations that we underwent ahead of Dakar Rally. I have tried to make the most of the situation and used this time to train hard and help the team in the development of our new bike. The new bike offers great performance and maneuverability so I am really excited to ride it at the Dakar. The Dakar Rally is coming back with a new set of rules and routes, so it is going to be an interesting one this year and I am looking forward to it. ”

Hero MotoSports made its debut at the Dakar Rally in 2017 and within just a few years, it has emerged as one of the top Teams in international motorsports.

The biggest rally-raid in the world, Dakar Rally, for its 43rd edition will venture across the entirety of Saudi Arabia. Convening and culminating in the city of Jeddah, the Rally kicks-off on January 3, 2021 and travels through various cities before returning to the same city on January 15, 2021. The Rally will see competitors travelling through a total of 7646 km, of which about 4767 km will be competitive divided into 12 stages. The Rally also has nearly an all-new route with more slush, open desert, dunes and mountains to traverse than before.

Hero MotoSports Team Rally starts its fourth Dakar campaign Team goes into Dakar with a 4-rider team for the first time

Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, January 4, 2020

Hero MotoSports Team Rally, the rally racing team of Hero MotoCorp – the world’s largest two-wheeler manufacturer, began its campaign at the 42nd edition of the most gruelling race on the planet – the Dakar Rally – in Jeddah today.

This year, Hero MotoSports Team Rally will field a four-rider team that includes Paulo Goncalves (Competitor No. 8), Joaquim Rodrigues (Competitor No. 27), C S Santosh (Competitor No. 50) and 25-year-old Sebastian Buhler (Competition no. 32), the latest addition to the team.

The confident quartet rolled off the ceremonial podium today in front of thousands of enthusiastic fans assembled in the beautiful setting of the Corniche area of Jeddah, facing the majestic Red Sea. They gave a cheerful send off to the competitors.

Paulo’s wealth of experience, Buhler’s youthful exuberance, JRod’s focus and CS Santosh’s intensity strikes the right balance for exciting prospects at the Dakar 2020, riding on the back of some strong performances, intense training sessions and a battle-tested Hero 450 RR. These riders will be ably supported by an experienced assistance crew.

Having completed all the administrative and technical checks successfully, the team is now raring to kick start their Dakar 2020 campaign with the first stage on 5th January that will take the riders from Jeddah to Al Wajh with a 319 km special stage and a total run of 752 kms including the liaisons.

Wolfgang Fischer, Team Manager, Hero MotoSports Team Rally said, “We are quite excited to be at Dakar 2020 for our 4th year now. For this new adventure in a completely new continent and terrain, we also have an exciting new combination of riders with Paulo, a Dakar legend in our ranks on one hand and an exciting young prospect in 25-year-old Sebastian Buhler on the other, who has already achieved a Top 20 finish in the last year’s Dakar. For Buhler, it was fortunate as the two time Top 10 finisher for the team, Oriol Mena, was forced to sit out of this Dakar due to injury. Joaquim has also completed his recovery now, coming back strongly to win the Pan Africa Rally while Santosh also recorded his best ever performance with a 5th place finish in the same rally. So, the team has been shaping up really well both mentally and physically and we are in a very positive frame of mind for this Dakar. We can never predict an outcome in the Dakar, especially this year as it’s a new environment for all the teams, so our first aim still remains to get the riders and bikes safely across the finish line every day.”

Paulo Goncalves (Comp No. 8) said, “I am really excited to be a part of this new chapter of Dakar. I have had the privilege of racing in two continents with the Dakar, and now coming to the 3rd continent of Asia. I feel honoured and blessed to be able to do this. We have had really good preparations; the team has bonded like a family and that’s a very good thing for us. I am very happy with my Hero 450RR and quite confident about our prospects. In the end, the first job of any rider is to bring the bike home and that’s what I will be focusing on. It is a new challenge for everyone so patience and having cool heads is going to be the key here. Looking forward to my first Dakar with Hero MotoSports Team Rally!”

Joaquim Rodrigues (Comp No. 27) said, “It’s a completely new challenge and I am quite excited about it. My recovery has been good and I am back to 100% so that’s a really good feeling to have. I had a good last season, got some good experience under my belt and the win at the Pan Africa Rally boosted my confidence. We have really come together as a team in the last season with Paulo coming on board. I am quite happy with our preparations and the bike is looking good too, so we are in a good place. I am going to do my best to get my Hero bike home every day.”

CS Santosh (Comp No: 50) said, “I am quite kicked about this all-new adventure that the Dakar 2020 is offering. It’s going to be tough and from the first impressions we have got, the navigation is going to play a key role here. I have worked hard on my navigation throughout last season and my speed has also improved a few notches. I am feeling quite confident and well prepared for the new challenge. We have got a really good team bonding going on and Paulo has been sharing a lot experience with all of us so it has really helped. I could not finish the last Dakar so I am going to try and finish what I started last time.”

Sebastian Buhler (Comp No: 32) said, “It’s going to be my first time racing with Hero MotoSports Team Rally and I am really happy to be a part of this team. We have a great environment within the team and I have learnt so much from all these guys. To be able to ride and work with these guys and Dakar legend Paulo, for a young rider like me, that’s a great opportunity and I am trying to make the most of it. My focus is to get as much experience out of this opportunity and try to get to the finish line in every stage.”



Laia Sanz and the GasGas Factory Racing team are tonight looking forward to the start of the 2020 Dakar Rally after successfully completing a pre-event shakedown and event administrative controls. Riding the all-new GasGas RC 450F, Laia will start her 10th Dakar Rally when she begins the opening 752-kilometre stage on Sunday, January 5.

* Laia Sanz will debut the new GasGas RC 450F at the 2020 Dakar Rally
* The 12-stage event covers more than 7,800km including 5,118km of timed specials
* This 42nd edition will be held in the Middle East for the first time in its history

Laia Sanz: “It is always an exciting time, just before the start of Dakar. We had already completed a lot of testing on the bike in Morocco in December, but it’s been good to see and ride the terrain here in Saudi Arabia. So far, my feeling on the bike has been very good. I think once the race has started, we will see lots of different styles of terrain, and for sure a really challenging Dakar. My first impressions here have been good, the country is very beautiful. To join GasGas for their new rally project is motivating, I’m so happy to be representing the brand here and throughout the season. As everyone knows, it’s really tough to finish the Dakar and my goal is to be inside the top 15. The level of riders is really high right now and I will need to be smart to have a good race. Last year I finished 12th and had great results during the 2019 racing season, so I hope to keep this momentum going into the 2020 Dakar. I feel ready, I’ve been training hard, I feel healthy and my goal is to earn a good result for GasGas on this new bike.”

The most successful female competitor at the Dakar Rally, Sanz comes into the 2020 event not only hoping to extend her 100 percent finishers record but to also claim another top-15 result. The Spaniard enjoyed a strong 2019 season including an excellent seventh place at the gruelling Silk Way Rally. Now, with the full support of GasGas Factory Racing, Laia hopes to continue her impressive run of form and successfully complete her 10th Dakar with a strong result.

Following an 11-year period of being held in South America, the 42nd Dakar Rally will see competitors face a new challenge with the event moving to Saudi Arabia for the first time in its history. The Middle Eastern country will present riders with a wide variety of terrain as they cover a total distance of more than 7,800 kilometres.

Starting in the coastal city of Jeddah, the 12-stage event will first lead riders north along the coast of the Red Sea, before returning south through the Empty Quarter and finishing in Qiddiya on January 17. With 75 percent of the race ridden in sand and with expected difficult navigation promising to truly test the riders, the 2020 race looks set to be one of the toughest yet.

Photo: GasGas Motorcycles

error: Alert: DIT MAG NIET !!