17 Feb 2010

The Dakar Rally in South America has been held a while ago. Except for the results in the internet, I didn’t follow it very much. Unfortunately, there has no longer been any competition. After a few days, it was just a battle between the two works drivers Carlos Sainz and Nasser Al-Attiyah. After Mitsubishi has withdrawn from motorsport, the VW works team is the only remaining outfit. The private BMW team of Sven Quandt showed some promising results initially, but even multiple Dakar winner Stéphane Peterhansel has not been able to stand the distance without his car encountering technical troubles.

Meanwhile, I have spent my time building a house in Florida in a golf course next to a lake. It has just been finished now. After one year of construction, I was busy furnishing it and moving houses. It’s quite exciting to get to know new people and new countries.

But even in America, I can’t do without motorsport. For example, I have been invited to the Daytona 24 Hour race and one week later to the NASCAR season opener, the „Daytona 500“. I used the opportunity to talk to top American and international drivers and team managers. Plus I was allowed to have a really close look at the race cars. My long-standing friend Lyn St. James who had successfully been driving races in the USA helped me to get in touch with people as she virtually knows everybody. That was mega interesting. American race tracks are very spectator-friendly and much more open than European venues.

On both events, an exhibition was shown for the first time in the Daytona sports museum. The exhibition was prepared by Lyn and her team and it shows successful women in motorsport. It tells the stories of women in motorsport dating back to the beginning of the 20th century up until today. I am part of it as well as the only woman who has ever clinched overall victory in the Dakar Rally. This is a great honour for me, particularly as the exhibition will be shown in all parts of the USA. In America, the Dakar Rally is not very well-known but this exhibition will certainly help to change it.

From Daytona, I travelled to Colombia as I have received an invitation to the Orinoquia 1000 Baja Rally. There is a series of six rallies every year. The organisers want me to support them to increase international awareness of this rally. After all my friends had warned me travelling to Colombia, I have to say that it was an extremely positive surprise. The country is awakening and general security has been improved extraordinarily. Military forces have been tripled to get the guerillas under control. Now it is possible to enjoy the wonderful landscape of Colombia without getting into danger. The rally stretched over a stage length of 850 kilometres and accepted 150 entrants. It was well-organized and it was located in the picturesque mountains of Bogota’s hinterland. Though there were hardly any international competitors, the press covering was stunning. I gave many interviews for the six biggest TV stations in Colombia. Every daily newspaper and many magazines covered the event in their reports.

One of the rallies is being held in the North of the country and includes lots of sand, desert and dunes – just like in Africa. The organisers have charted potential 16,000 stage kilometres. This is a huge potential for every kind of off road event and adventure. Of course, we started planning the future. I hope I will be able to tell you more about it soon.

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