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A veteran in the rally of all rallies. Mirjam Pol is participating in the Dakar for the 10th time! We will keep in touch with Mirjam's performances on the website and on all our socials. So make sure you stay tuned!
Mirjam Pol wins the toughest rally in the world for the third time! Despite the fact that the last stage of the 45th edition of the Dakar rally did not go smoothly for Mirjam Pol, she can once again call herself Dakar winner in the women's classification. A great performance by the Twente native, who also really enjoyed her tenth Dakar rally and can therefore bear the predicate 'legend'. Mirjam; 'How we drove through majestic dunes! The last days in the Empty Quarter I had so much fun in the sand, beautiful!' Mirjam Pol is widely known for her tactical ability, her navigation skills and driving in the sand and difficult terrain. She doesn't like fast and stone paths, but it is precisely on that surface that she surprised friend and foe. “I had to get through the first week because I knew this wasn't going to be my field. I also suffered terribly there and made a giant slide on the second day that might as well have been the end of my participation. But, I surprised everyone and actually myself the most by already achieving a very good ranking in that week”, she explains. The last stage turned out to be unexpectedly exciting for Mirjam Pol. “This was not my very best stage and that is an understatement. I think I had already slid three times when I saw a predecessor driving along the path and could just keep going so I thought I will too. Well, that wasn't very smart. I was immediately stuck! What a misery. I don't know what it was, it looked like cement. If it wasn't for my teammate Wesley (Aaldering #120) I still would have stuck.”, says a relieved Mirjam. Rain and cold played tricks on the participants, especially in the first week, but Mirjam did not give up. She knew what desserts awaited her in the second week; the monstrous sandhills in the Empty Quarter. “As far as I'm concerned, those stages could have been a bit more difficult. I preferred high and soft dunes without the flat parts in between. Because on those flat parts my competitors got the opportunity to catch their breath and mentally refuel. And that's where I'm at my strongest!" “But, all things considered, I have noticed that I have grown enormously 'overall' and that I am certainly not at my peak yet. I really enjoyed my tenth Dakar rally and look forward to everything that comes my way”, ends the brand new Dakar winner!
Mirjam said goodbye to the imposing Empty Quarter in style today, with a very nice result. 'Oh, what a wonderful special stage today. These dunes were less high, they were dunes where you can surf up to. I drove through the special while slaloming. Of course I also had to work, also with my head. That already started at the start,' says Mirjam. Sometimes you just have to think soberly. “Suddenly, in the middle of the special, a motorcycle comes towards me! huh? I look at the road book again and think, no dude, there will be a waypoint in a few kilometers. And a moment later, another one comes driving in the other direction. Yes, then you will doubt. But, long story short, stay calm, just think and literally and figuratively follow your own path, Pol. And so it happened… I just drove on, and sure enough, ‘pling’ the waypoint! And in the end everyone drove behind me again!” Mirjam then drove up with a group of about six motorcyclists. Guys who all started before her this morning. When she realized that she could keep up with these riders, her beautiful position of today was secured. “Because they all started before me and I finished right with them, I made up time on each of them.” The result is impressive: today Mirjam finished 36th overall and 18th in the R2 classification. She starts the last stage with starting number #44 and as the 44th motorcyclist. One more day to go!
According to Mirjam there were 3 real dune stages in this edition of the Dakar rally. She ticked off two well, but the third did not go entirely smoothly. It doesn't matter much to Mirjam, because this is by far the most beautiful day in the dunes. It was dangerous, it was high, it was mean at times, really soft at times, it just had it all today. The dunes were so beautiful, Mirjam also consciously thought about the fact that she drives in a very unique location. She really realized that on those incredibly high dunes. There seemed to be no end to these dunes at times. It was so incredibly beautiful, and so incredibly high. She did see a track on those dunes and then she realized she could cross it, because a predecessor has done it before. Full on the sandhill in sixth gear, quickly back to fifth gear to go full for it and try to get to the top which was really cool. She helped out a few times to help other participants who were stuck, sometimes she lost connection on the flats but then came back in the dunes. The sun sometimes made it difficult to assess the condition of a dune top. She has finished her pasta, drank a refreshing coke and is now enjoying a nice cup of coffee. She prepares for the last two days. 'Two more stages ahead, tomorrow the last day in the dunes and then on Sunday after the very last special stage, if all goes well the podium!', says a cheerful Mirjam.
While the entire field of participants puffs, groans and groans through the days, Mirjam says coolly after the first part of the marathon stage; "Well, that would have been nice." These are the stages Mirjam is good at and where she can make a difference. But that is no longer possible in this special stage, because every dune party came on a large open plain. Then everyone can empty themselves completely in the dunes and even catch their breath on the flat part. If riders are already on the verge of breaking in the dunes then these stages are where they push past their limits and break down. And so she moves forward. Mirjam really enjoyed the beautiful dune landscape where she feels so at home. She rode this stage very consistently. They are nice and early in the bivouac, she has already checked her engine, it has held up well. The filters and oil are also working fine! She loved driving in the famous and infamous Empty Quarter! This is how the dunes are supposed to be, the scenery was perfect. She does indicate that they were lucky that she did not get into trouble, because if you do, you'll have a completely different experience here. All in all, she can't complain. She had a great stage and she came through it well. Mirjam is looking forward to the 185 kilometer long special stage in the Empty Quarter with hopefully many challenges.
'I really thought it wasn't a great day at all, but in the end it turns out to be a rather good day.' This quote of Mirjam needs some explanation. The drivers got up really early tonight and they did drive to the start of the special stage, but she had the feeling she was still asleep. At the start she was feeling really tired and had no energy at all. She thought the rider who she started with also suffered from this, but soon she found out it was a tactic. So she passed him very fast. She rode with some Chinese driver until he got stuck. She was riding in the dunes with the person she started with then a rider from Kuwait passed her. He did ride faster but she thought; 'should I join him? Or choose for steady and sure?' She chose option one and it worked extremely well. She got stuck about 100 meters behind him, but it gave her some extra energy, it kept her focused and her head was all over the place again. She rode the special stage until the Kuwait man chose the wrong dune and got stuck, so Mirjam crossed the finish line on her own. And that's actually what she meant to say, it wasn't her day, but when she crossed the finish line and saw the result, she thought she did a great job. She returned to the Bivouac in time and will now prepare for tomorrow's marathon stage and the day after tomorrow in the Empty Quarter.
The first stage after the rest day is not meant to put the competitors back on the track, but robust handling skills will come in very handly in the wadis and canyons that make up the first part of the stage. Going off the track and struggling with navigation are just two of the hazards in this special. The field will also have to overcome a beautiful chain of dunes on its way back to the bivouac. Mirjam had a good day today with an even better result; she finished 23rd in the R2-Classification and is 29th in the same standings after 9 stages. And she did so without a roadbook. Her navigation broke down at the liaison route. She asked whether she could still fix it before the start, but unfortunately. So she had two options: 1. Manually turn through her roadbook wich was life-threatening because then you only have one hand on the handlebar in that tricky field. Or option 2. Forget all about the roadbook and then try to ride behind someone. Two bad options but these were all the flavours she got. Anyone that knows Mirjam, should know that she went for the first option. But soon she found out she could not last another 400 kilometres like this. So then she picked up with a rider who was fast but knew she could stick with. It also meant that she had to rely on others to find the waypoints. After all, without a roadbook you don't know where they are, nor where to look for them. Sometimes she went looking for a waypoint on her own experience; judging by the 'behaviour' of other riders. Who goes off 'sneaky' or just full of determination. That's where she knew she had to look first. Mirjam is enjoying herself, it is obvious by everything. She is not easily put out of her mind and with days like these to come, she will benefit a lot from that attitude. She is looking forward to what the upcoming days are going to bring. She hopes she can enjoy the upcoming days, because it is meant to be very special. She is going to sleep really early, because tomorrow they have to get up very early. It's going to be a longe connection route and after that a 113 kilometre route lies ahead. Not really that long but it's a route with a lot of real dunes.
'Be careful what you wish for', I still hear David Castera say those words', Mirjam said. The participants were looking forward to a hard and heavy Dakar. Mirjam is looking back on last week with rain, cold, stones, wind and long days. But she is looking forward to start week 2 of Dakar 2023! During today's rest day Mirjam is getting time to reflect on the past week. Mirjam felt like it was a big fight to reach the rest day, but that's the case for every participant. Mirjam tought Dakar could be different for he, but then she was facing some troubles. She fell from her bike and she also had some technical issues with her bike. Mirjam was very lucky she did not have to quit her 10th Dakar because of those issues. Mirjam did not have the opportunity yet to reflect on what happend. She also didn't go to a doctor or a fysio yet. She didn't had the time to do it. She thinks it is unfortunately that it has been this cold and wet last week. But a good old Dakar has to be heavy and tough. Despite the bruises and the pain of the fall she thinks she is doing well in the race. She is facing Dakar week 2 wich is all about sand and dunes wich are her favourites. In the women's classification she competed with Sandra Gomez from Spain and Kirsten Landman from south Africa. Mirjam is in the lead with 4,5 hours on the South African who rides in the box classification. The difference between Mirjam and the Spanish Sandra was sometimes ahead and sometimes behind her. She is normally stronger on the fast, hard trails, the rocks and the technical part. Mirjam relies on the sand, navigating and the physically demanding and long stages. And of course the riders also had some illogical and bizarre situations regarding the bad weather, the cancellation of the specal, the marathon bivouac 2.0, all the ingredients for a special and exciting week. Mirjam thinks she can say that she rode strong this first week. She has mainly surprised herself by dealing with the technical problems with her engine. And now comes the second week of the Dakar, which is all about sand, sand en more sand en dunes. Mirjam is now 50th in the general classification after 8 stages and in the R2-Classification (without the factory riders) she is 29th and in the women's classification she is at the top.
Mirjam Pol and al off the other drivers didn't ride yesterday's special stage to the bivouac in Al Duwadimi. Today they left for a nice special. This section is new, even for those who have driven around Riyadh before. The first part contains beautiful and photogenic valleys in the heart of the mountains. The second part is completely different with immense open desert plains. If the drivers have come through this day well, they will finally have their well-deserved rest day in Riyadh on Monday. And they really need to take this rest, because the organization has big plans for the second week. The past few days seemed messy and chaotic, but nothing could be further from the truth. The Dakar organization managed to get everything out of it given all the circumstances. Mirjam has reached the finish line and also in this stage it seems that she has ridden very consistently again. The preliminary result is one to be proud of. She finished 43rd in this eighth stage (including factory riders and quads) and is 22nd in the R2 Classification. These are very good results to start the second week after the rest day.
Due to today's weather conditions and the exhaustion of the motorcyclists, the organisation of the Dakar have decided to cancel the stage between Riyadh and Al Duwadimi. The motorcycles and quads therefore drive from 10 am on public roads from the Riyadh bivouac to go to the marathon bivouac in Al Duwadimi. Mirjam is pleased that the organization has made this choice. The riders of the Dakar have good clothes, but these clothes are not resistant to getting dry quickly, they now have time to let the clothes dry properly. When it's raining during the day and you're racing it's fine, but on a long road route the riders just get sick and that's not the point of the Dakar.
When Mirjam enters the bivouac in Riyadh she finished 1000 kilometres in total, 1/3 of it even offroad! That's the same distance as Amsterdam to paris and back on a motorcycle! It can be said that the organisation of Dakar is doing everything possible to make this 45th Dakar very hard. Mirjam came over the finish of the special and she managed to get back in the race even better. When she rode into the bivouac it was all water. Nothing is important anymore, only getting warm and to find a dry spot and offcourse a plate of pasta! Someone asked Mirjam today if it's normal that this Dakar is so hard. Mirjam answered with the question:' Do you want to come to the most heavy rally in the entire world? Well welcome to Dakar.' Mirjam also thinks this Dakar is hard, but that's what she and all the other riders wanted. She even is looking forward to look back on this Dakar in a couple of weeks from now. Mirjam is doing her 10th Dakar and refushes to give up, even if she has to crawl to get to the finish line. The riders made clear to the organisation they want a hard and heavy Dakar and look what they got. It's heavy, it's wet, it's cold but that's Dakar. Anyways she had a great day. She even managed to get pas some other participants. She flew across them. Mirjam made a little mistake and then she fell. Luckily nothing was damaged so she could get up and drive further. According to Mirjam she had a great stage and she is happy with that. Tomorrow's stage is changing every hour. The last thing known about tomorrow is that the motorcycles will not ride in racemodus. The motorcycles leave the bivouac every 30 seconds, to the other bivouac in Al Duwadimi. On sunday they wil ride the 8th stage from there. The multiple world champion has recovered from yesterday's day, as she finishes 45th and is currently at the top of the women's standings!
Once darkness has set in, Mirjam rides into the bivouac. That's when she began to tell her story. She started today's stage amazing with good hope and good feelings about it. They even rode with four of them for a while. But then she noticed a red light on her motorcycle which wasn't good at all. Luckily her teammate Wesley Aaldering rode in front of her. Weley is a former mechanic of the team so Mirjam decided to get up to his front to stop him and ask what's wrong with her bike. Wesley was able to tell that the motor probably had a coulant/water leak. So with this knowledge Mirjam first had to find out where this leak was. She also had to make sure she was carrying enough water wich is a difficult task in the dessert. Mirjam calmly rode further until she saw a helicopter. She tried to find the leak, but with no result. She gave the protective cover of the engine to the organisation in the helicopter so she did not have to unscrew everything each time she had to refill the water. Of course she regrets the lost of some time but she tries to think positieve about the entire situation. She is happy that she did saw the light and that her teammate was there to help her out. It could have been a different situation! Overall she managed to get pas all waypoints. She is looking forward what tomorrow's day will bring!
After the crash of stage 2 and yesterdays waterballet of the already legendary third stage Mirjam found out that things were not so bad as they seemed to. When she took a look at her body she was a little bit in shock beacuse of the bruises. All teams in the bivouac had to deal with messy and muddy tents because of the heavy rain. The bivouac was completely flooded and so it was at HT Rally Raid Husqvarna Racing too. They worked very hard to get and keep the riders warm, the riders' clothes slightly dry and in the meantime the bikes needed to be fully serviced as well. So the riders and the bikes were back at the start today fresh and ready to ride. Mirjam said yesterday that she was looking forward to the fourth stage because this stage contains a lot of dunes and sand. She had a wonderfull day but in the beginning she had to get into it. This was here kind of terrain. She managed to not get over a dune which previous drivers seemed to ride up at once. And not just one dune, there were over four dunes! Then she realised she was doing something wrong. Then she just drove up it a gear slower, do higher in the rmps and that went perfectly. Of course the massive rainfall had made the sand so heavy and tough that required a different approach. After the refuel-stop, the terrain changed but Mirjam enjoyed it no less. It was like a long beach race wich she enjoyed really much. She opened the throttle and enjoyed the sand, the nice long trails, super! At the end she almost lost sight of the roadbook and got quite tired, but a good night of sleep makes it alright. What's left for today is to prepare for tomorrow's day in calmness. She already ate her pasta and took a nice shower. Nothing will stand in the way of a good night off sleep wich makes Mirjam ready for tomorrow's stage!
Mirjam seemed to be managing to pull herself together and she seemed to have her body quite under control after yesterday's disastrous day. She faced this third stage as she did before; 'keeping her head up and making sure she arrives at the other bivouac with as less misery as possible.' It started to rain in Saudi Arabia. Gently at first, but soon very hard. At kilometre 334,8 the riders were stopped. The weather became to heavy for the final stage kilometres. Mirjam and the rest riders were taking shelter in a tent and warming themselves by a fire outside when they were told there were no race kilometres for them. Via the public road all participants drove to the Ha'il bivouac. What this will mean exactly for the standing is not yet known. Mirjam seems to be doing very well after yesterday's disastrous day!
Today's stage was the kind of stage that made Mirjam feel like; 'today I have to make sure I stay on my bike and don't do anything crazy.' It was a weird day for Mirjam. It even rained today! It was survival to get to the finish. They route didn't suit Mirjam at all, but those days are part off the Dakar. Ans as odd as it may seem, She did feel like she was getting better at it. It was less hard to work to get into a good rhythm than yesterday. Until about 100 kilometres before the finish line Mirjam rode a path with all rocks through a river bend. It was in the blink of an eye with a decent speed, so fast and unexpected her bike was sliding away and she fel off her bike. Her airbag vest went off and she laid done for a while at first. She realised quickly she hadn't broke anything. But immediately she felt pain everywhere here body. From her left shoulder, through her left knee to her left toe, everything was sore.
She really regret this nasty crash that also damaged her bike. Her team and mechanics are now taking care of her bike while Mirjam is taking care of her injuries en trying to oversee what this crash could meen to the rest of her Dakar. She is realistic when she expresses that because of this day, the rest of her Dakar will be coloured verry different after all. Let's see how Mirjam is feeling tomorrow morning but she she do hope that it will not be a better of surviving and that she will be able to compete and get back into race mode! She finishd 80st overall and 45th in the R2-Classification!
Mirjam had to work really hard to finish today. 'Wow! it was a long and tough day,' she says when entering the bivouac again at the end of the day. She even drove the last part of the liaison in twilight. She is done for the day! While she is eating a plate of pasta she continues, 'It was a very difficult day. Yesterday it went so well and today i could not get into my rhythm properly, everything seemed so difficult. Particularly the first part of the special was a drama with an awful lot of stones and rocks. I thought it wouldn't end! I hit a rock in a riverbend, I could not avoid it and I fell. I was lucky it was without serious consequences but it does indicate that it was one of those days.'
In a nutshell, it was a day when things could really go wrong. And although she did not feel happy about today it was not really reflected in the results. The last part of the stage contained dunes and that is where Mirjam managed to win some time back. She finished overall 73rd and 36th in the R2-Classification.
The first kilometres of Mirjams 10th Dakar are over. After she finished she told that she really enjoyed it. She raced tight and made no mistakes. She could have been a bit faster but then again, a mistake is so easily made. During the prologue you can lose so much more than you can ever win. Even today she saw several riders make a slight mistake. For Mirjam it felt as a good start of her 10th Dakar rally!
It was a fast route and that made Mirjam feel like she had the right pace. That gives confidence for the upcomin days. The past days she was able to sleep well and a good night's sleep for several days in a row is very important for Mirjam before starting a race.
She is really looking forward to tomorrow's day, it will be the first 'real' long stage. After tomorrow she will also know where she stands. In the end Mirjam finished 87th overall and 46th in the R2 classification.
It has begun for Mirjam Pol, Her 10th time participating in the Dakar rally! Mirjam left Rotterdam on tuesday evening for Yanbu, Saudi Arabia. The first day was all about getting used to everything and feeling the Arabian sun burning in her skin and tryning to arrange all kinds of additional things. Yesterday was all about scrutineering and offcourse the Shakedown! Mirjam is scheduled at 11am local time for the administrative checks and she is expected at 4:20 pm for the technical scrutineering. Mirjam will take todays opportunity to test and fine-tune her bike together with her team, HT-Rally Raid Husqvarna Racing, During the Shakedown. During this Dakar we keep up to date with Mirjam and we write down everything that happens in this page and on our socials. So stay tuned!
Check out our adventure collection and check out tips from Dakar-veteran Mirjam Pol herself!