#Dakar2020 | These South African women conquered the world’s toughest race

Image: Wheels24
Image: Wheels24

Gone are the days that women have to take a backseat to men, especially in sport.

If the 2020 Dakar can be remembered for one thing, it should be that two South African women conquered all the challenges that came their way to reach the end of the race.

Kirsten Landman and Taye Perry overcame the Dakar and, despite facing uncertainties both before and during the race, they came home in spectacular fashion. And even more amazing, they completed the near-8000km race on motorbikes!

Landman, a 28-year-old from Durban, completed the two-week-long race in an excellent 55th place overall, while Perry (29) came home in 77th place. Their positions make it even more special because, after the death of Paulo Goncalves, more than two-thirds of the bike competitors withdrew from the race.

But not them, because throwing in the towel was never on the cards.

Do you think that women will one day stand on the top step of the Dakar podium? Email us.

Overcoming the challenges

For Landman, the thought of participating in the grueling Dakar was never an option. It's not that she couldn't, but rather that she had demons to conquer.

Being on a motorbike saddle since she was eight, Landman participated in numerous endurance races, but things took a turn for the worst when an accident occurred while participating in an event in Botswana. The misfortune left her in a coma for days.

READ: 'Death is part of the Dakar' - Marc Coma pays tribute to Paulo Gonçalves

Landman let it slip that it wasn't easy getting in the frame of mind for the Dakar and that it took her two years to prepare for it. An integral part of her preparation was Joey Evans. Evans participated in the Dakar three years ago, but his motivation is more than just skin deep.

Why? Because Evans is partially disabled and completed that year's event successfully.

Landman drew inspiration from this and repeated Evans' feat by crossing the finish line on her KTM. 

Tough final days

Between these two phenomenal women, Perry will rue her missed chances of not finishing higher than 77th. At the start of the second last day, Perry was sitting in 49th position overall. 240km into the day's marathon stage, Perry fell off her KTM - leaving the bike unable to continue the stage.

Stuck hundreds of kilometers from the bivouac, a fellow competitors from the car category gave her a helping hand and towed her in. However, under the regulations, Perry had to push her bike for the last few hundred meters. Once over the finish line, Perry and her team worked through the night - getting by on minimal sleep - just so that she could line up for the last stage of the race.

Perry, who was known all-around as the smallest competitor in this year's race, showed great spirit and kept her cool to finish in emphatic fashion.

To the South African women of #Dakar2020, we salute you. And well done on your deserved results.

KEEP UPDATED on the latest Wheels news by subscribing to our FREE newsletter.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Lockdown For
Brought to you by
Voting Booth
Do you think Mercedes will return to form later in the 2022 F1 season after two poor races?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Yes, don't discredit them.
34% - 508 votes
Who cares, F1 is exciting again!
43% - 649 votes
No, it's Ferrari's turn to dominate again.
23% - 345 votes