Courtesy of Sharon Cox
Annett Fischer heads into Dakar Rally 2020 racing SSV category as co-driver in what must be described as the most brutal off-road endurance Rally in the world.
Starting at Saudia Arabia’s city Jeddah on Jaunary 5th, Annett along-side driver Camelia Liparoti will navigate the 12 Stages across Saudi’s remarkable terrain encountering extremes of physical stamina, mental focus, SSV rally performance to push the all-female-duo across the finish line 12 days later.
Yet, taking into account the mammoth task ahead, Fischer is no stranger to being amongst racing in extreme conditions. The seasoned German has supported X-raid MINI Team as sports physiotherapist from 2012 and gained her first podium at Merzouga Rally 2018.
It was competing in debut 2019 Dakar Rally that clinched deep desire to push Annett’s physical, technical and mental boundaries even further. Breaking historical record of first-ever female German Team to race Dakar Rally, Annett with co-driver Andrea Peterhansel completed the grueling 10 Stage Rally in their Can-Am Maverick X3 in the T3 category.
Annett: ‘It was truly an incredible, life-enriching experience to race the Dakar 2019. While Andrea had raced in many previous Dakar’s, it was our first time racing in Peru and her first time ever in the co-driver’s seat at Dakar’.
‘We certainly encountered many and varying challenges on the track. In overcoming these we learned a lot and became even stronger as an all-female team’.
‘I remember when we punctured three tyres at the same time and only having two spares on hand. After 2 hours of struggling, we were surprised to be very generously given a tyre from the Brazilian driver, Bruno Varela, who saved our race’.
‘It was this kind of comradery that really highlights the Spirit of the Dakar for me – where we are not just competitors but also friends. It was such an awesome and fun experience and to have come out in 14th place overall and having won the Women’s Car category, one I’ll never forget!
Coming full circle, Annett has only just received call-up to co-drive for her race competitor in Peru- Camelia Liparoti.
Does it faze the multi-off-road competitor to not only learn whole new set of navigations in co-driver seat as opposed to driver’s seat? And at same time test her limits on adaptability as 2020 Dakar Rally introduces new Road-books usage- on 6 days navigation books will be handed out on morning before racing?
Annett: ‘I was a pilot driver in Dakar 2019 where Camelia and I raced against each other. Just in November this year, only a couple of weeks ago now (!), Camelia asked me to be a last-minute stand-in for her usual co-driver, Rosa Romero, who is recovering from a motorcycle accident’.
‘As a last-minute stand-in for Rosa and as I am usually behind the steering wheel, admittedly I will have a lot to learn in the coming weeks and on-the-spot regarding navigation. But this is one of my strengths – I adapt and learn quickly’.
‘Having said that, I am familiar with the Dakar Road-book which in 2020 will be distributed to us for the first time in colour and on 6 days it will be handed out in the morning’.
‘This means, however, that the co-driver cannot prepare her own Road-book in advance and therefore increases the navigational level of difficulty. For sure, the terrain will be demanding in Saudi Arabia but just how difficult we are yet to know until we are there and racing. But I am up for the challenge!’
And challenges will stare up-front, in face every day for 12 days! Which could bode well for Annett who has ability to put into practice every-day work practices as physiotherapist supporting atheltes through and recovering from hard, physically demanding and energy draining races.
Annett: ‘From my experience working as a physiotherapist for the professional drivers of the X-Raid MINI team at the Dakar rallies, I expect the common challenges to be the long, exhausting days/stages, the short amount of daylight, driving the stages in the dark, severe dehydration and muscle fatigue’.
‘I expect that in Saudi Arabia the drivers will present with ailments due to the extreme temperature differences as well. Appropriate nutritional intake before, during and after each stage is paramount as well as a physical regime to support driver endurance’.
‘Given my experience at Merzouga Rally in 2018, I will be going into Dakar 2020 particularly focused on getting through the dunes as successfully as possible’.
‘I really enjoy driving in the dunes as you need to respect both the dangers and beauty of mother nature out there so I think I can help Camelia a lot in the dunes’.
All of which goes to show how strength of character remains pivotal when faced with such a grueling, long distance event. With an overall distance close to 7,900kms, total of 557 competitors from 53 Nationalities will trace the coastal region of the Red Sea before turning inland to cross the desert sands to the capital city Riyadh by Day 12. There will be one Rest Day after Stage 6.
Annett: ‘I am not afraid of taking on challenges that interest me. For people who know me, they know that my personality is such that I very rarely get nervous or anxious. My strength is that I am very calm under pressure. I am much more pragmatic rather than emotional. I am the type of person who is goal-oriented and solutions-focused’.
With Dakar Rally 2020 start-date January 5th, there is anticipation, apprehension and down-right excitement in the air for the female duo racing SSV category. It’s Annett’s proof of what she is capable of, and Camelia’s trust that the dynamo will race full of determination to cross the finish-line for the world to see.
Annett: ‘Firstly, we are keen to get to know each other as team-mates rather than as competitors. This will mean getting to know each other’s strengths and weaknesses so that we can complement each other as drivers in the car’.
‘Overall, our objective is to pursue the adventure of rally rac-ing, to be challenged by the most demanding rally in the world and to push through physical, personal and professional barriers’.
‘Together we feel privileged to be in a time in motorsport where we can follow their passion as equal race competitors and in doing so changing gender perceptions and inspiring other females to enter the world of motorsport’.
MXLink will trace Annett’s racing through-out Dakar Rally 2020. Stay tuned.