In a year when the FIM Women in Motorcycling Commission celebrates its tenth anniversary, it seems the perfect moment to reflect on how important Women’s Trial has been to promoting female participation in two-wheel sport with the slow speed discipline being the first of the FIM Women’s World Championships. As the first ever winner of this series, and the undisputed queen of Trial having taken the crown thirteen times in total Laia Sanz remains an incredible ambassador for Women in Motorcycling having now moved on to both Enduro and Cross Country Rallies.
Despite her new and elevated status following her amazing achievements in the Dakar Rally, Laia has not forgotten her roots and happily explained her journey in motorcycling with her typically warm and grounded personality shining through.
How difficult was it as a girl, one of only a few riding trial back in the early days and how is it today as a Woman in a man’s World?
“You have to remember that Women’s Trial did not exist when I started riding, so it was normal for me to train and ride with the boys, they were OK with me, but of course as a girl in their World it was both different and difficult at times. For sure things have got better over the years as more girls are now riding, but still today it is not easy for me as a woman to be inside this sport.”
“In my early years I was very focused on my riding, so in some ways I was different to other girls of my age as an early teenager. My friends were going to parties and having boyfriends, but my only interest at that time was my riding. It wasn’t until I was eighteen or nineteen that I started to go out with friends and go to parties, so I was late compared to my friends. And then I found that the boys acted different to me than to my friends. They only knew me from the events where I was very serious and focused, so many of them did not know me that well, but for those that did know me I was just like a normal girl when I was at the party. I just wanted to relax and to have fun.”
Tell us how it felt to grow from a small girl to a princess and to finally become the true Queen of Women’s Trial?
“I simply could not have imagined that this would happen to me. As I said before Women’s Trial did not even exist when I started so it never really seemed possible. For me to have the chance to ride inside a professional team and for this to be my job was like my best dream come true. It was both nice and amazing. I will never forget that it was what I did inside trial that gave me my chance to race at the Dakar. I spent twenty years in Trial so it will always be a big part of my history.”
“Of course I can remember the day I won my first World title. It was a special day and I was very happy, but also I was very young and at that moment did not fully understand just what I had achieved. It is only when I became older that I really was able to understand the real value of that day and just how important that first championship actually was.”
It’s true to say that you have adapted well to Enduro and then to Rally, but does it give you the same feeling and satisfaction that you had with Trial?
“I have so many great memories of Trial because I spent so many years riding this sport, and if I am really honest I still prefer Trial the most. However, I still like Enduro and it has been good to ride this sport to teach me new techniques and to give me the speed I needed to transfer across to Rally and more important for the Dakar.”
The second round of the 2016 FIM Women’s Trial World Championship will take place in Italy on 3rd / 4th September.
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Laia Sanz – Key Facts
- FIM Women’s Trial World Championship debut Spain 2000 – Aged 14
- 13 x FIM Women’s Trial World Champion 2000 / 2001 / 2002 / 2003 / 2004 / 2005 / 2006 / 2008 / 2009 / 2010 / 2011 / 2012 / 2013
- 33 x Women’s Trial Grand Prix appearances
- 32 x Women’s Trial GP victories
- 33 x Women’s Trial GP Podium finishes
- 6 x FIM Women’s Trial des Nations Winning Team Member – Spain 2000 / 2002 / 2008 / 2010 / 2011 / 2012
Photo – FIM/G2F Media