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A veteran in the rally of all rallies at the young age of 38, because of her seven Dakar finishes. We'll keep up to date with Mirjam's performances here and on our socials. So make sure to keep an eye out!
The last stage is also behind Mirjam, she has reached the finish line and not only that: SHE IS WINNER IN THE LADIES CLASSIFICATION OF DAKAR RALLY 2022! To Marcel Vermey of Rallymaniacs she said about the two falls of the day before "I thought let me make it exciting for the last stage." Despite those two falls, she still managed to win the women's classification. When asked how she looks back on this edition of the Dakar she says "I had a top Dakar in front of the scenes, very difficult behind the scenes. I was sick for most of the first week, after which I felt better for 4-5 days, but now since 1 or 2 days I have a sore throat and a sniffle. It continues to linger a bit." In terms of the riding itself, she says she had great days. "I had a nice battle with teammates, in the women's classification and with several other riders. Really had a super Dakar." The experience helped her tremendously this year, as she knew the prologue could make the difference in the final ranking.
Among the factory drivers at the top of this Dakar, there is a constant change of positions when it comes to the lead. And still, everything is possible in the rankings. Among the ladies in the Rally2 class, Mirjam actually went full steam ahead from the prologue, showing her experience and her determination. This allowed her to distance herself from her direct female competitors and she is now happy with that. "It was completely in the discussed tactics but normally I don't give everything on day one. In the Netherlands, I really trained on that with my trainer Thorsten; 'from the first second on total focus, Mirjam! The scene was set for the last big fight!
After the eleventh stage, Mirjam appears to have been in a fight indeed, especially with herself. "This kind of terrain is so very much my thing! The dunes were majestic, amazing. The strange thing was; the high, soft, and difficult dunes I surfed through, wonderful. But then ... came the small and lower dunes and there it went completely wrong not once but twice, causing me to fly off my bike. I feel it well, in the second crash I injured my shoulder and scapula quite badly. Because of that whole situation, I also got a time penalty for speeding. "One more day, now keep everything whole and pay attention because the Dakar hides many different surprises!", concludes Mirjam. She may not ride the fastest, she may not ride the prettiest but she rides the smartest!
The tenth stage has been ticked off by Mirjam! After another stable and steady special stage, she is now in 48th place in the general classification! Below is her story. "Until the fuel stop, it was full throttle again. It's nice when you can drive full speed for a while but two hours in a row is quite long, tiring and... I almost dare not say it, also a bit boring. But when you think that's it, suddenly there is a waypoint somewhere between three mountains that was hard to find. Which one should you have? Who of the three but in a different way! Fortunately, I quickly figured out that the waypoint was in between the two mountains on the right." So it was another difficult day to navigate, a lot of time lost and time gained for the different riders. Mirjam explains "Yes, it was another day of navigating. After the fuel stop, I drove almost everything on my own, so I had to navigate myself too. Sometimes I saw other riders searching and driving in circles, and then you saw them catch up with me. But, upside: if they're behind me, at least I'm not driving in the dust. I found it an energy-consuming day today. You notice that we are nearing the end of the rally! I'm going to prepare myself as well as I can for tomorrow because that will be a day of biting."
Today, during the ninth stage, Mirjam rode large sections with her Argentine and Canadian teammates but because of that she actually rode in the dust all day. But she didn't really have time to 'slump' like yesterday. Mirjam: "Actually it was a boring day but one where I had to stay alert all the time because of the dust. I tried everything to shake off other riders and that takes time when it's so dusty. Then I also lost time because I was looking for the right canyon." Eventually, she managed to shake off her Argentine and Canadian teammates, who seemed to cling to her like true bodyguards. "Because of the dust, at one point I had to slam on the brakes at full speed, which made me drive into the dune instead of on top of it. I was riding so fast, didn't pay attention for a moment, saw the dune too late and drove right into it," says Mirjam. The next stage awaits, for the 10th stage the first bike leaves the bivouac at 03.50 hours. Mirjam manages to defend her lead and finishes the 9th stage as 59th rider.
The organization's live timing shows a beautiful flat line, a sign that Mirjam rides very consistently. Especially in the first part of the stage, you can almost set your watch to the timing. The dunes, the sand, and navigating are all in her blood, and that seems to be paying off. While Mirjam rides the connecting route to the bivouac of Wadi-Ad-Dawasir after finishing this stage, it is clear that she is the fastest Dutch rider again today. In addition, she has extended her lead in the women's classification to almost 3 hours and 10 minutes! Of course, they say a Dakar is only over when the last meters have been driven but this day's result gives us courage.
After the 'side activities' of the rest day, Pol has turned her focus mode back on. She will start the seventh stage and with it, the second and decisive week of the 2022 Dakar with over 2 hours lead on her direct competitor in the women's classification. For Mirjam Pol, the only Dutch lady in the motorcycle classification, dunes, and tough navigation sections was also on the program today. Those are the parts she likes! She finished stage 7 in 55th place in the overall motorcycle classification but has lost some time to her competitor in the women's classification. She will do everything she can to maintain the lead she has.
Although it is a rest day for Mirjam, she is busy all day. The mechanics do extensive maintenance on her bike, while she herself is busy with 'peripheral matters'. She prepares everything so she can start the second week fresh. In addition, a visit to the physio is a welcome luxury. She also has to attend appointments, international interviews, TV recordings, and photo sessions during a rest day. She also tries to meet and have a cup of coffee with as many of her colleagues as possible, because the Dakar feels like one big family. By the end of the rest day, however, Mirjam is already thinking about the upcoming stages. She tries to make estimates about what to expect in the upcoming stages and tries to get into race mode physically and mentally. The familiar rhythm of sleep-eat-drink-ride and repeat.
For the motorcycles, the route of stage 6 was the same route as that for the cars and trucks of stage 5. As a result, there were many deep tracks, which made it extra difficult for the motorcycles and quads. Mirjam pointed out "We only had time to ride the first part of the special and that was a drama. I had almost no control over the bike, the tracks were so deep! That whole route was devastated, unexpected holes and rocks everywhere." Because of these problems with the route, the race was stopped just like the day before. Mirjam adds "I was really looking forward to today but now I'm glad they neutralized this stage at km 101. You had to ride so carefully, it was not fun anymore. I wanted to be careful today anyway but unintentionally you start racing with others around you."
During the rally, Mirjam sent a message that the race for motorcycles had been stopped at 266.8 km. Half an hour later confirmation came from the race management that the rally was canceled. Because the helicopters could not fly, the safety of the participants could not be guaranteed. There is still much uncertainty about how this situation will be resolved. Mirjam was riding in 53ʳᵈ position in the general classification and as the fastest woman and fastest Dutch motorcyclist. We have to wait and see how this situation will be resolved....
The fourth stage was a tough one, Mirjam again managed to finish this stage in a good position, in the end, she took the 61st position. She did receive a penalty of 4 minutes for exceeding the speed limit. "I was looking forward to this stage and I also found it extremely tough. Because you know it is the longest stage, you first ride through the dunes but in the back of your mind, you know that there is a long and dangerously fast part at the end. In the end, the part in the dunes was great riding, the sand wasn't so hard because it wasn't so damp and wet. Staying focused was intense today. It was a very long day, I am still recovering from everything and that asks a lot of your body. But I'm here, and that's the most important thing", Mirjam says from the camp in Riyadh.
Because of heavy rain, stage 3 was reduced by approximately 100 km but it still remained a loop around Al Qaysumah. Mirjam was still coping with some minor illness but was able to get into her Dakar rhythm nonetheless! Stage 3 was very intense and hard on the body with a special demanding constant focus. Long and fast sandy tracks, high dunes and treacherous camel grass. The dunes were still wet because of the rain. For the first few riders this made things easier because of the compacted sand, but they left deep tracks for the riders behind them making it extra tough for Mirjam as well. But Mirjam knows how to deal with any challenge and managed to come in as 52nd in the motorcycle class. This finish takes her to a P25 overall in the Rally2 class and she took the lead in the Womens Trophy!
In the second stage in Saudi Arabia, Mirjam had to deal with dunes mostly on Monday. This is no problem for her since she's at her best in those conditions. And she didn't disappoint, finishing this special as 51st rider she has made up a lot of time!
The first real stage was a real challenge for Mirjam. Physically, mentally and technically, everything has to work towards the same goal, finishing the stage, but Mirjam has been struggling with the flu. During this tough stage she again had trouble navigating and found out her equipment wasn't calibrated in the right way and she had been riding while being behind on instructions. Because of this she had to take a 15 minute penalty for missing a waypoint. She still managed to get a good result and keep her time loss limited. She starts stage 2 in 66th position overall.
The first 19 kilometers are over and done with. A decent start in the prologue for Mirjam, despite her not feeling optimal. Because of the 'failed' shakedown she isn't in tune with her motorcycle in the way she'd like to be. The shakedown track was not in a state where Mirjam could test her motorcycle to the full extent. During the prologue itself, she still managed to set a decent time, which determined her start position as 68th overall motorcyclist. After the prologue there was a few hundred kilometers long connection route, after which the start podium waited and Mirjam could get back into her rhythm of eat-drink-sleep-ride-repeat. The perfect way to prepare for the next stage...
Check out our adventure collection and check out tips from Dakar-veteran Mirjam Pol herself!