It takes time. Sara Price climbs from her Can-Am, high-fives her crew, makes sure the Monster Energy cap is straight and then coughs. It comes with the terriroty. It comes with living in the dust.
On Wednesday, the cough’s cut short. She’s got too much talking to do. She’s a history-maker and a Dakar stage winner. And today, it had to be done. Third-placed Jerome de Sadeleer took a chunk out of the Californian on Tuesday, slashing the gap to Sara’s DirtFish-stickered SSV to just three minutes.
“That was the strategy today,” Price told DirtFish. “I knew I had to push to make up the time. We needed to do what we did today… but it’s still unbelievable! I’m super-pumped to be just the third female ever to win a Dakar stage and the first American. Honestly, I’m on cloud nine!
“I’m so grateful to even be here, this is the cherry on top.”
Today’s 230-mile loop from Alula to Alula was all about rocks and dust. Neither troubled the former Baja racer.
“Coming from American off-road,” Price added, “you learn about where you can push and where you don’t. There’s a difference between being flat out and dumb and being smart and taking chances. We were in a ton of dust today, but I said to myself: ‘You know what? I’m used to this’ – this is what we do in desert racing at home.”
“We live in the dust.”
Despite her stage win, Price remains 20 mins behind SSV class leader Xavier de Soultrait with two days still to run. Her focus is very much on the finish.
“There’s so much can still happen,” she said. “We know there’s more rocks coming tomorrow. The 20-minute gap is maybe not in my grasp, but we know we have to keep the pressure up. Let’s be smart and let nature take its course.
“Pressure is really part of racing – but the more pressure the better for me. I get a little bit stressed out, but I thrive on it. For the next two days, I don’t know what’s coming, but I’m just going to be as prepared as I can be!”