Saturday, March 2, 2024

COVID-19 forces Mirjam Pol to miss 2024 Dakar Rally

Mirjam Pol will not race the Dakar Rally in 2024 as she continues to recover from a bout with COVID-19.

“The Dakar rally is the longest, toughest, and most dangerous rally in the world that demands the utmost from the team, the pilot and the material,” wrote Pol on Friday. “With the risks we deal with on daily base during the Dakar we need to be one hundred percent fit and focused and I’m still far, far away from that.

“I now have reached a point where I have to make a decision. Am I able to go to Dakar like this or not? And if I’m even a tiny bit honest towards myself, it’s not a choice at all, it just won’t work. So no Dakar rally 2024 for me.

“For now I will give my recovery the time it needs and after that I’ll try to get fit again. And then somewhere during next year – depending on my recovery – I will make some new plans, with of course… the Dakar 2025 rally.”

2024 would have been Pol’s eleventh career Dakar. She is the only woman to have raced the Dakar in all three locations (Paris to Dakar, South America, Saudi Arabia), making her debut in 2006 and being the best-performing female competitor in the 2009 and 2022 editions. The 2023 Rally, her tenth to qualify for Dakar Legend status, saw her finish twenty-ninth overall in the Rally2 category and forty-ninth among all bikes.

After Dakar, she ran two rounds of the FIM Bajas World Cup in the spring. Pol finished third overall in the Qatar International Baja and first in the Women’s Cup, followed by fifteenth at the Baja TT Dehesa Extremadura. Although not running the full calendar, she is still top ten in points in seventh, tied with fellow female competitor Sara Garcia Alvarez.

If not for COVID, she would have returned to HT Rally Raid Husqvarna Racing for the 2024 Dakar Rally, seeking her fourth consecutive bike finish in the top fifty. Her best run overall was a forty-first in 2020.