Jutta’s career in words and pictures

Early practice
Juttas Karriere in Wort und BildTo be honest it was quite a while ago that I came into this world. On 29 August 1962 in Cologne, Germany, to be precise. Actually, I didn’t think about cross country rallying at that stage. In fact, these events didn’t even exist back then. I t took 17 years before the first Paris Dakar Rally took off. I always had a bit of a penchant for cross country vehicles.
Bavarian Lass
Bavarian Lass As a matter of fact, my childhood was not spent in Cologne. Shortly after I was born, my family moved to Berchtesgaden. In this regard I’m a Bavarian lass, and if you really listen you can still hear my Bavarian accent. And as to be expected, I love skiing – as they say, a Bavarian who can’t ski isn’t a real Bavarian…
Youth and education
Youth and education I grew up in a family with four children – I was the second oldest. I went to school in Berchtesgaden from 1968. Four years later, I went to high school. I sat my A-Levels (school-leaving examination) in 1981 in Traunstein.
My studies
My studiesI made up my mind to study in 1982. I enrolled at the polytechnic in Isny/Bavria for physics – this subject had always interested me. In 1986 I received my diploma, doing my thesis at BMW on the topic „Design and Realization of a Climatic Test Bed for Vehicle Air Conditioning“.
Built in sand
Built in sandThe first time I heard about desert rallying was in 1985, and it grabbed me immediately: I definitely wanted to compete. In 1987, I started as a spectator with a HPN BMW. This probably made me the only spectator to follow the rally on a motorbike. A wonderful adventure!
Mad about the Desert
Mad about the DesertThis excursion was so much fun that I really wanted to compete in a desert rally. About half a year later I was where I wanted to be: I took part in the Pharaos Rally in Egypt.
Aiming high
Aiming highIn the land of the pyramids I tried my first jump in the dunes. Unfortunately, I was a bit too optimistic: I stormed up the dune at a speed much too fast and became airborne on a crest. The rest is a very dusty story…
The Door’s too narrow
The Door's too narrowOf course, I had no workshop to prepare my bike. No problem, I did it at home inmy flat. The assembly went perfectly – the big problem turned up when I tried to get the bike down to the street. A very small white lie to the housekeeper helped, he gave me the key of the cargo lift. But the boxer engine was still too wide – I had to take off one cylinder to get it through the door…
My kitchen workshop
My kitchen workshopPutting together a motorbike for the desert in the kitchen requires compromises. On the kitchen bench my crockery, coffee pot and baking trays were intermingled with cylinder heads, seals and other stuff.
Tough going
Tough goingA desert rally is hard to do in a car. But the strains you undergo on a motorbike are really hard to imagine. The stresses leave marks on the faces, as you can see from this shot taken at the 1992 Paris Dakar Rally. With a standard BMW R100 GS paris-Dakar I won the Ladies Trophy and finished 23rd overall in the motorbike classification.
Technology in Practice and Theory
Technology in Practice and TheoryWith my first event on the motorbike I had built the foundations for my sporting career. At the same time I succeede in starting my professional career in 1987, by joining BMW’s department for vehicle construction in Munich, where I stayed for six years. Simultaneously, I became more and more involved in motorsport.
Changes in Profession and Sports
Changes in Profession and SportsIn 1992, I made up my mind to become a motorsport professional and give up my job as an engineer. Shortly afterwards I tackled my first desert rally in a car – as co-driver to Jean-Louis Schlesser.
Two wheels – four wheels
Two wheels - four wheelsWhilst I got my first experiences with the Buggy I still competed on the motorbike. In the beginning of my motorsport career I competed on BMW bikes, but after many years I changed to Enduros from Austrian manufacturer KTM.
Do it yourself
Do it yourselfIt didn’t take long until I took the wheel of a buggy myself: in 1994 I competed in Tunisia as a driver. At the end of the year in Dubai, andin Juanuary 1995, I drove a Mitsubishi from Sven Quandt. But then I changed back to the team of Jean-Louis Schlesser, who was my boyfriend at the time.
Through the desert in a Single Seater
Through the desert in a Single Seater1997 was a special year: I was the first woman to win a stage of the Paris Dakar Rally. Up to 1998 I competed in many corss country rallies with the Schlesser Buggies. The early days in the single seater brought some extra challenges: I had to drive and navigate at the same time.
Debut for the Ladies Team
Debut for the Ladies TeamAt the end of 1998 I started in Dubai for Ralliart Germany, where we made our debut as the Mitsubishi Ladies Team. Tina Thörner and I finished fourth at the UAE Desert Challenge. A couple of months later, in the 1999 Paris Dakar Rally, Tina and I held the overall lead for three days. We were the first women to do so. In the end we came third. But the greatest success was still to come.
Near miss
Near missIn the year 2000 we contested a full cross country season which I hadn’t done for quite a while. We almost reached our goal – an overall win. Unfortunately, we missed out in Tunisia by just 122 seconds. At the end of the season I was the best T2 driver and runner-up in the World Cup for Cross Country Rallies.
The greatest successes
The greatest successesTogether with my co-driver Andreas Schulz who was navigating me since August of 2000, our third rally together brought the big breakthrough: We won the Paris Dakar Rally at the beginning of 2001. It’s really funny, each of us tried so many times but we never succeeded. Now, as a team, we made it! Our next rally yielded the next victory with laurels taken form the Italian Baja.
Fire and Ice
Fire and IceBut I am not only at home in the desert. Fire and Ice – that’s my motto. For two years with different makes, I enthusiastically competed in France’s ice racing series, the Andros Trophy. I am crazy about arctic tours, which I do every now and then with industry partners, and I am curious about more or less everything.
Red Diamond in the Green Hell
Rote Diamanten in der gruenen HoelleLong distance, that’s my thing. But I not only enjoy competing in cross country rallies through the deserts, I also love classical racetracks. I started several times on the famed Nordschleife of the Nürburgring, driving through the „Green Hell“. In 1999, for instance, I shared a Mercedes SLK with Ellen Lohr and Claudia Hürtgen and we finished seventh overall. In 2000, I competed in a Mitsubishi Carisma GT Evolution VI.
Signature of a contract with Volkswagen
Signature of a contract with VolkswagenOn 15 May 2002, a new chapter in my motorsport career was opened. I have signed a three-year contract with Volkswagen. The company entered cross-country rallying. Together with a team of Head of Sport Rudolf-Helmut Strozyk, we developed a competition version derived from the off-road car Touareg for the Dakar Rally and the FIA World Cup for Cross Country Rallies.
A ladies team again
A ladies team againWhen I joined Volkswagen, one of the next decisions that came up was who was to become my co-driver. In Fabrizia Pons, I found an ideal and experienced partner for the new job. After a first outing in a course-opening car during the 2002 ADAC Deutschland Rallye, we celebrated our first common success already in January 2003, finishing runner-up in the Volkswagen Tarek in the two-wheel drive class and eighth overall in the Dakar Rally: a good start!
The Touareg’s first stage win
The Touareg's first stage winIn the 2004 season, we achieved a first pinnacle during the maiden outing of our new car. On the penultimate stage of the Dakar Rally, we celebrated the first stage win with the all-new, TDI-powered rally car. Many more good stage results underline the car’s potential so that we can now set our sights on the future based on a promising position.
Historic podium finish
Historic podium finishWe finished the 2005 Dakar Rally on third place. Whilst it was my fourth ‚Dakar‘ podium, it was a historic achievement for Volkswagen. For the first time in the 27-year history of the event, a Diesel-powered car claimed a podium finish.
Heading into a new era
Heading into a new eraAfter my contract with Volkswagen has been finished after the 2006 Dakar Rally, the next step in my career began. In May 2006, I signed a contract with team X-raid that developed the Diesel-powered BMW X5 and later the X3 CC with its own resources, supported by BMW Motoren GmbH. Tina Thörner, my former co-driver, is now my new co-driver. In Dubai, we started with the X3 CC in November 2006, finishing sixth in our first attempt. Thereafter, we struggled in the Dakar Rally.
Flying high
Flying highSince 2004, I have a licence as a helicopter pilot. I’ve got my own small helicopter which I use. It is a Schweizer 300 CBI model. It is being used by the Aéroclub Monaco for training flight pupils.
As long as it’s fast
As long as it's fastApart from motorsport I like mountain biking and extremely demanding bike tours such as the crossing of the Alps (in 2003), the Race Across America (in 2004) and the Ötztal marathon (in 2004 as well)
Enjoying the good things of life
Enjoying the good things of lifeBesides motorsport there is not a lot of time left, but I use some of it to relax, enjoy the sun, or sometimes even go shopping…
Privacy…cook a nice dinner, keep in touch with friends, and enjoy a bit of time for myself. I can do all this in Monaco, where I have chosen to make my home.
PublicationsIn 2010, my first book has been published by Haufe Verlag. I’ve written a book on my Dakar victory in German and lessons that can be learned to improve your management skills.
Heading into the future full of energy
Heading into the future full of energyAs you can imagine my future is full of plans. And they’re not only to do with motorsport, I also want to offer incentives and programmes for individuals. They all involve cars, training programmes, the desert and other extreme environments. If you want to find out more, go to the latest news in „Highlights“ and „On tour“.