Get up to speed with how Cristina Gutiérrez won the Dakar Rally
I will never forget this moment
Huge congrats, Cristina! What was going through your head when you finished – and right after you knew you had won?
It was an unbelievable moment. When I finished, I thought we finished in second place, which is still a good position. Then I saw our friend from Spain at the finish, and he was doing something with his hand, ‘Go, go, go, you can win.’ I didn’t understand. I was surprised to see everyone screaming and shouting that I might win. I felt a bit of pain for Mitch [Guthrie Jr], but also happiness - because for me, it was a dream come true. It was an amazing moment I will never forget.
Who was the first person you called right after – or who called you?
I haven't called anyone yet (laughs). But I’ll reach out in my family chat group because everybody is going crazy. I just read some messages - they were following the race and commenting, 'Whoa, maybe Cris can win… she's 20 seconds ahead,’ so the first call is going to be my family, for sure!
I just went for it, throughout each one of the days, no matter what was happening behind me – or in front
Dakar was very tough. Was there any point when you thought, ‘We might not make it’?
I think every stage was crazy, especially the marathon one. It was 48 hours through the dunes. But we won this stage as well. We felt comfortable as a team from the beginning, and also in the car. I think that was very important. We felt really supported. I think that’s the most important thing – if you feel the support behind you, you can be stronger and more determined when driving.
You’re known for being mentally very strong. Where does that come from?
I don’t know if I’m stronger – the only thing is that I’m the person who fights to the finish. In the world of motorsports, I started very small – I tried everything to get to Dakar. I was fighting for support, and I had to fight for sponsors. At my first Dakar race, the only goal was to finish. I spent a lot of time in the car – every night, and I always fought until the end. In this Dakar, I did the same: I just went for it, all the days, no matter what was happening behind me – or in front. I just focused on my race.
What’s the plan now? Vacation?
I’ll try to do that, but I don’t have much time for holidays. I need to get back to work in my dental clinic, because my patients have been waiting for a month for me (laughs).
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