It may be that for some the Dakar rally be a man thing. But it is not like that, it is also for women. Although in recent years the female presence has increased and now it is normal to see some girls among the participants, before it was not something entirely common. And of those pioneers who were encouraged to the toughest race in the world, only one remained in history: the German Jutta kleinshmidt, who in 2001 was crowned Queen of the Desert after winning a controversial edition.
Jutta was born on August 29, 1962 in Cologne. During his adolescence he complemented his studies at the Academy of Natural Science and Technique Isny's favorite hobby: riding motorcycles. After being received from Physical Engineer In 1986, he started his sports campaign with his participation in the Rally of the Pharaohs 1987 and the following year he raced his first Dakar. From then on he excelled on two wheels in various competitions on the African continent until he found love ...
In 1992 he met the French Jean Louis Schlesser, a former pilot of F1 who leaned towards off-road competitions after leaving the top flight due to the aftermath of a serious accident. They got engaged and almost immediately Jutta became the Gaul's navigator. Everything was going well until Jean-Louis convinced her to drive a buggy for his team.
Shortly after starting the car driver stage, Kleinshmidt received an offer that he could not refuse: to join the official team Mitsubishi, which at that time had a strong presence in off-road racing. That was not very funny to Schlesser, who decided to end the relationship ...
With the backing of the Japanese house, the results of the German in the Dakar were not long in coming. In 1997 she became the first woman to win a stage of the legendary competition and in 1999, the first to get on the podium after finishing third. But the best was yet to come.
In 2001, despite the fact that he raced with a Mitsubishi Montero from the previous year and with 200 kilos more than the official cars, he inscribed his name in the winner's record after taking advantage of the intense fight between Schlesser and the Japanese Hiroshi masuoka, also from the official Mitsubishi team.
Jutta was favored by an incident on the penultimate day. Schlesser, the virtual winner, was penalized for an unsportsmanlike strategy to demoralize Masuoka, who also wanted the win. The Gaul and his Spanish companion Josep Maria Servia they went ahead of the start time to open the way and make the dust bother the Japanese, who actually had priority on the route. Schlesser was penalized one hour, while Masuoka lost 50 minutes by damaging his suspension on an untimely start in his attempt to catch up with the two buggies.
Those incidents benefited Kleinshmidt, who arrived first at the Pink Lake in Senegal's capital and thus was left with the victory. Schlesser protested to the International Automobile Federation For everything that happened and only on March 5, 2001 was the victory of the blonde driver official.
The German media devoted a large space to its success. "The triumph of Jutta serves to end the prejudice that men drive better"said one of the presenters of the program Heute Journal, from the television network ZDF. "The tamer of the desert", titled the Berliner Morgenpost the opinion article in which he put the athlete as an example of the need to end prejudice against women. The most forceful was the Berliner Zeitung: "He left the males behind."
That success by Jutta Kleinshmidt was, without doubt, a symbol of equality between men and women. On the Dakar and in the world ...