Sara Price couldn’t be more honest: she simply doesn’t know what to expect from Dakar.
Actually, Price does know one thing. In the next fortnight, she’s heading for the biggest race of her career. Her words.
The 31-year-old has been racing on the dirt since she was eight. But never like this. She’s driven a Trophy Truck to second place – solo – at the legendary Baja 1000. That was 800 miles. Dakar is flat-chat for 3,000 miles for Price and co-driver Jeremy Gray.
“It’s the toughest race in the world,” she told DirtFish. “We’re walking into the unknown; we’re rookies and this is our first time. Am I ready? I have no idea. All I can do is be as ready as possible and prepare myself as much as possible to be ready for the unknown ahead.
“Being here, being able to get the chance to do this and prove to myself that I’m capable of taking on this extraordinary adventure and push myself to the absolute limits is such an amazing feeling.”
Talking about her fears for the fortnight ahead, Price added: “What scares me is for something stupid to happen early on to take us out for the rest of the rally. Especially after all the preparation time, effort, passion, heart, sweat, blood, tears, everything it took to get here.”
Last October’s Rallye du Maroc – where she became the first American woman ever to win a stage in the FIA World Rally-Raid Championship (W2RC) – was a crucial part of her preparation for Dakar. Second in class in Africa helped inspire Price with more confidence ahead of her SSV Class (formerly known as the T4 category) debut in a Can-Am Maverick X3.
“Morocco was,” she said, “a huge help. Coming into Dakar we got an idea for how the World Rally-Raid schedule works and how the program works.
“That’s a huge part of it as a lot of it is admin stuff that you just don’t know until you get there. The FIA is very strict, you can’t miss anything. I also think Morocco helped in knowing our speed and knowing what it takes to be at the front.
“It also probably puts us at ease coming here to Dakar, knowing that we have Morocco under our belt and that experience of taking that race. I’m hoping to continue that here.”
And the goal for the Price and the Can-Am carrying DirtFish decals?
“Number one: to finish it, which would be huge,” she said.
“Two, being able to get a podium would be absolutely amazing. To be able to make history and win it, I don’t even know what to say to that… if that were to happen. But none of that even matters. What matters is going out there every day, doing the best we can and hopefully the results are there at the end.
“This is by far the biggest race of my career. There’s nothing you can compare it to at all.”
Price and her fellow Dakar competitors got underway with the prologue stage in AlUla on Friday.