Barely a month after completing her eleventh Dakar Rally on a bike, Laia Sainz embarks on a new professional adventure in four-wheel racing. The Catalan pilot broke the news recently in a press release.
She will make her debut onboard a Can-Am Maverick X3 in T4 class (South Racing) lightweight buggy (SxS) in the upcoming edition of Dubai’s International Baja. The event, which is part of the FIA’s World Cup for Cross-Country Bajas, will take place on February 19 – 20.
This is a very important step for the Catalan pilot, for whom this could be a turning point in her career. Laia Sanz herself, in fact, has mentioned on more than one occasion the possibility of abandoning motorcycles altogether for off-road four-wheel racing.
The good news is that for her maiden race she will count on the experience of none other than Lucas Cruz, three-time Dakar Rally champion as Carlos Sainz’ co-pilot.
Laia Sanz, Extreme E Series & Carlos Sainz
The Spaniard has acknowledged that she will face this challenge as a learning opportunity in which to gain experience and arrive as well prepared as possible to her first important car racing commitment at the ‘Extreme E’, the new electric off-road championship which is due to start in less than two months.
The pilot from Barcelona will take part in this newly created championship, whose inaugural edition will take place during the 3 – 4 of April. And she will do so onboard one of the ACCIONA-Sainz XE Team vehicles, where she will be sharing the spotlight and the driver’s seat with Carlos Sainz himself.
“I am very grateful to Carlos Sainz for all the support he is giving me, and also to Lucas Cruz for accompanying me in this learning process. It is an honour and a luxury to have him in my first race. He has a lot of experience and I’m sure he will teach me and give me a lot of advice” – Laia Sainz declared as she spoke about the help she is getting from the Spanish champion -.
Challenges driving a car
Besides the great technical differences between driving a motorcycle or a car, Laia Sanz will face another big change. She will have to get used to working in a team and sharing the reduce space inside the vehicle with a partner sitting to her right.
Challenges such as interpreting the notes that the co-pilot conveys to her mid-race will be a completely new task for the pilot born in Corbera de Llobregat in 1985 and she is sure to require a period of adaptation.
“I have only been able to perform a couple of training sessions with a Can-Am, but it was different from the one I will drive in Dubai, so I will be starting from scratch. It will be my first time in a buggy with a co-driver and almost everything will be new for me, but I like new challenges and I am very motivated”.
“I hope the experience will be satisfying and I will learn how to drive through the dunes with a buggy, how to listen to the instructions of a co-pilot, how to drive on sand…” – explained The Queen of the Desert.
The route of Dubai’s International Baja has a total of 426 kilometres, 212 (192 timed) at the first stage on Friday and 214 (194 times) at the second one on Saturday.
Images of Laia Sanz: Laia Sanz.