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Interview With 2024 Dakar Rally First American Woman Stage Winner Sara Price

Publicerad:: 2024-01-26

Sara Price has a race resume that flat out dominates. From X Games to Baja, Price has made a name for herself in the world’s of motocross and off-road – winning pretty much everything they hand out medals and trophies for.

Monster Energy’s Sara Price has a race resume that flat out dominates. From the X Games to Baja, Price has made a name for herself in the world’s of motocross and off-road – winning pretty much everything they hand out medals and trophies for.

But it was back in 2015 when Price first got the taste of international off-road competition when she contested Morocco’s Rallye des Gazelles. And it was in Morocco that Price first became infatuated with the idea of racing the grandaddy of all off-road events, the famed Dakar Rally.

But one doesn’t just show up and run Dakar. For starters, you have to qualify. And Price did just that when she was the “Road to Dakar” division at last summer’s Sonora Rally in Mexico. But the racing may have been the easy part for Price as it’s about the cost of a nicely appointed house to actually have an FIA-approved vehicle set up for you to contest Dakar.

Always the grinder from her MX days and now motivated to the point of obsession with Dakar, Price, with a little help from her friends, was able to come up with the dough and set off for Dakar with some of here inner-circle friends from Alsup Racing and Development, including her co-driver here in the States, Jeremy Gray.

Price and Gray ran well enough to podium in her (their) first Dakar Rally, only to have a late-event charge at the overall win go a bit awry, dropping them to just a click off the podium in a still highly respectable 4th place overall SSV class finish.

We caught up with Price while still in the Saudi Arabia desert and rallied through some questions on WhatsApp. Here’s what she had to say… 


Monster Energy: Starting out, and we’re pretty sure we know how you’re going to answer this, what was the high point for you at this year’s Dakar Rally? 

Sara Price: “I would see the high point for me at this year‘s rally was making history as the first American female to win a stage in the Dakar Rally. That will go down in the history books, and that’s pretty awesome to represent America in that way and be the first.”


ME: Yeah it was! So rad. And the motorsports would is still buzzing over that. Conversely, what point of Dakar challenged you the most?

SP: “The ups and downs of Dakar are what I think truly make it the most challenging. It’s 14 days of racing and you go from having a good day to a not so good day over and over again. And that pretty much and that truly test your mental capabilities, your grit, and heart for what you are doing in that moment.” 


ME: Was there ever a moment where you thought, ‘That’s it. I’ve just thrown my podium position away.’ And given that, what plan did you put in place to regroup and work to regain positions in the standings?

SP: “100-percent. Through the entire rally we were very consistent and had great speed but on the second to last stage we had an opportunity to push and have a chance at winning this thing - and we took that chance and it didn’t go our way. Pretty sure my heart broke knowing when you give it your all and it just isn’t your day and in the end you not only lost the win but the podium as well. That’s Dakar, tough. It’s a brutal humbling and, as rookies, it’s not easy to navigate with the unknowns you have ahead of you through the process.”


ME: Discuss what the Dakar Rally does to one’s body. Unbelievable time in the seat. Constant pounding. Concentration levels peaked for hours on end. Muscles and tendons absolutely maxed out. Living conditions pulled together in the middle of a far off desert. How are you able to deal with all that for days on end?

SP: “I think once again this is preparation, but most of all mental toughness. When I was preparing for Dakar I wanted to make sure I was physically fit, to where I didn’t have to think about my body or any aches and pains that I might suffer. I wanted my conditioning to its best to where it never crossed my mind. And so I could have one more thing checked off to be mentally tough. I always say I have this switch, and when I want something, I’m able to flip that switch and nothing will stop me from getting it. That truly is a great strength of mine. And I think all my years of racing and just how much passion and grit I have for what I set out to do. I’m not doing this for anything other than I truly want it. And I truly want to be the best and show the world anything is possible.”


ME: Such incredible support goes on behind the scenes for you to achieve this amazing finish. Discuss the South Racing/Can-Am support program that helped you to achieve such heights at the 2024 Dakar.

SP: “Support for the Dakar rally is everything! You have to have a strong team. Along with being under the South Racing Arrive and Drive program, where they handle the intense amount of logistics and provide the Can-Am and everything to be our best and most comfortable. I brought a few key people from my home team, Mitchell Alsup from Alsup Racing Development. Mitchell builds my Can-Ams in the States and we run the American team together, and he came to Dakar as my mechanic, overseeing the vehicle preparation and maintenance. Also, Jeremy Gray, my navigator, who I’ve been racing a lot this year, having much success, and who I won the Road to Dakar with at the Sonora Rally. And then Cynthia Prefontaine with Twenty7 Promotions, who is one of my best friends and who has always had my back from the start even in my in motocross to do all the PR and help with management of anything competition and media related. I brought these key people because they are my team and my comfort. And I can also have a peace of mind with less unknown about my first Dakar, while I am able to focus and be the best I can. It’s important to have access to as many resources for what might be throw your way during a Dakar cause you just truly have no idea what may happen.”


ME: This year’s Dakar route was said to be different from past years. Given that this is your first Dakar, what was your opinion on the route?

SP: “From what we have heard and been told by many is that this year was the toughest Dakar Rally yet. Not only were all the stages very difficult, but this was also the first year they put the 48 Chrono in – a two-day stage added to the marathon where you stay out in the dunes overnight and continue in the a.m. It was a tough one, and many people stayed the night several nights out in the desert because of issues. The terrain is brutal with endless dune days to the sharpest rocks I have ever encountered in my life!”


ME: That’s bananas. To survive you had to have some premier racing equipment. Discuss for a moment your Can-Am SSV, giving an insider’s look at the South Racing-tuned Can-Am model and how it compares to SSVs (UTVs) you currently race back in the States and Mexico.

SP: “Racing an FIA rally event like the Dakar is apart from racing in the States. Specifically, the rules. The main things different about the Can-Am I race at Dakar compared to home is the chassis needs to be FIA Spec and is it very strong and that leads to a much more heavy vehicle. On top of that it is mandatory for us to run restrictors that limit our true performance of the (Can-AM) Maverick X3. This is done in order to keep all models from all manufacturers somewhat equal in the SSV class. So the Can-Am I race in the FIA World Rally Raid Championship is a lot slower than the Can-Am I race at home due to the restrictor and weight. Other than that they are very similar. We run usually a very stock platform as Can-Ams are strong and we are a big believer in the Maverick X3.”


ME: Your background is in dirt bikes. And at the highest level. How does Dakar compare, in an SSV, to some of the toughest events you’ve competed in on a dirt bike?

SP: “I think coming from motocross, it the best base to have for any motorsports or racing after that. Motocross is tough, and it’s a sport where you work on skill set and technique every day. In vehicles we don’t have the luxury to drive at pace every day, because working on technique and skill set comes with so much time and cost. What the dirt bike provides is so much knowledge on how to read terrain and that is key in races like Dakar, because you don’t pre-run - and you don’t know what is coming. On a dirt bike it’s a lot more physical. Your heart rate is a lot higher, but your equipment can also take a little more of a beating. In a vehicle you really have to watch your corners and take care of it because there is so much that can go wrong if you lose focus for just a second.”


ME: Finally, Dakar’s famous saying “A challenge for those who go. A dream for those who stay behind,” has so much deep meaning. How, in your own words, do you best explain Dakar adventure to your friends and family back home?

SP: “It’s absolutely wild and beyond humbling. It truly is the toughest race in the world, but at the same time it’s also this special place you don’t want to ever live without tackling and pushing yourself every year to be better the next. Dakar is an incredible adventure to say the least and it tests every ounce of you that you’ve got!”


ME: Thank you, and again, a heartfelt congratulations from everyone at Monster Energy.

SP: “Thank you to everyone at Monster Energy for having my back on this. It was an experience beyond all others and I’m looking forward to Monster Energy being with us for the rest of the way on the FIM World Rally Raid Championship.”


Up next…

That concludes the 2024 Dakar Rally. Next up on the FIM World Rally Raid Championship series schedule is the Feb. 25 through March 4 Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge. For more information, including “Live” timing and scoring, visit