Personal questions - personal answers

How did you get into motorsport?

About my hobby motorcycle riding. I accompanied the Paris-Dakar Rally in 1987 as a tourist. Then I knew: I would like to compete in the Paris-Dakar. For me, marathon sport is a great mix of adventure, technology and racing.

What do you recommend to young people who want to start motorsport?

Getting started is difficult because of the high financial costs. There are different ways to test your talent:

The ADAC and other car clubs offer kart courses and rally and circuit courses, as well as motorcycle courses. It's a good place to try out whether there's talent.

In any case, if you want to pursue a professional career, you have to pursue your goal with firm will and effort. In the beginning I put all my money into motorsport. At the beginning it is relatively difficult to find sponsors.

Is it more difficult for women in motorsport?

Generally speaking, it is equally difficult for men and women. As a woman, you have the advantage in the beginning that you get attention faster. But that doesn't last long if the performance isn't right.

One disadvantage is that, in teams, experience has shown that women still find it more difficult to get winning material. This is more likely to be given to men, since there is still a general opinion that men are still a little faster.

How do you keep fit as a rally driver?

With strength and endurance training. Strength training focuses on the upper body, back and neck. I train my endurance by jogging and cycling. Before big events I train daily, otherwise three times a week.

Do you have a special diet?

I make sure to eat healthy. This includes a lot of lettuce, fruit and vegetables. In the race I eat as many carbohydrates as possible in the form of potatoes and pasta. The mineral balance is balanced with isotonic drinks. We also receive vitamin tablets from our physiotherapist.

How does the Dakar Rally work?

In our days the event is traditionally the highlight of the calendar and lasts around 18 days. It takes place in Saudia Arabia. Every year the organizer comes up with a new route. The total distance is around 10,000 km. Every day we drive a new temporary route. The conditions can change every day. The co-driver receives a new road book with route information to the next day on the evening before each stage. It contains information on the route and information on important route obstacles such as washouts or holes, locations of the transit controls, GPS and compass information.

A Dakar pack is huge. Experience has shown that the field of participants consists of around 200 motorcycles, 120 cars and around 100 trucks. There are also vehicles for doctors, catering, organization and the press. We are also accompanied by helicopters and airplanes. Every evening a bivouac organized by the organizer awaits us, in which we set up our tents. There we receive a warm meal from the buffet. While the passenger prepares the route for the next day, the drivers take care of the press and, together with the mechanics, the technology.

The starting order results from the placement of the previous day. The motorcycles start first. Then the cars and the trucks follow. The first ten cars start every two minutes. All others will then follow every one minute - depending on the advertisement. The overall placement is added up from the times of the individual daily time tests.

How long can careers in marathon sport last?

Marathon rallies can be driven longer than for example F1 because experiences - such as assessing terrain or other specific situations - can be brought into a much greater extent than in other sports. There are successful pilots who are over 50 years old and are still among the top.

How do you feel as a woman in a male domain?

Women are just as normal participants as men. I think the talents are the same. Just like men, women need the will to win in order to be really successful.


Are women the better drivers?

In general, you cannot judge right away all drivers. Men usually drive more, so they also have more experience. In my experience, women drive safer. Men are more willing to take risks and are more likely to overestimate themselves.

What are your goals?

To establish environmentally friendly technologies in motorsport. I also dream of flying into space.

What was your biggest success in motorsport?

The overall victory in the Paris-Dakar Rally.

What was your funniest motor racing experience?

At the Dakar Rally we drove a stage from Nouakchott in Mauritania along the beach to Dakar. Suddenly we discovered a boat in the sea in the color and with the stickers of our vehicle. We were amazed. When we got closer we found that it wasn't a boat. Rather, our team-mate got off the track through a sand hill and was swimming in the sea. We then fished him out of the sea with a tow rope like a fish.

And what was not so nice?

In my first Paris-Dakar rally, I struggled to the finish on a day when about 80 motorcyclists failed. When refueling afterwards, the organizer accidentally filled up with diesel. Due to the repair work I was so late that I couldn't go in time to the next stage for my start time. Unfortunately, that was the end of the race for me.

The 1993 Dakar Rally was also not so nice. I was in fifth place overall in a very difficult stage on the dunes with my Yamaha. All motorcycle participants rode into the night on this stage, including me. Then I got stuck in a dune. A following truck unfortunately didn't see my motorcycle and rolled over it. The machine was totally destroyed, my race ended.

Would you like to drive a Formula 1 vehicle?

Yes, that would be a great experience. I like to try new things. I've ridden in a monoposto before - Darren Turner took me in the 2001 McLaren F1 two-seater in Hockenheim. A great experience!

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