Today, I’ve got a really special cultural treasure for you. One that changed the history of Motorsport. The female history. I’m talking about the German rally driver Jutta Kleinschmidt who was the first woman ever to win the Paris-Dakar Rally, the world’s longest, dangerous and obviously male dominated competition.
The Rally started in Paris, nearby the Eiffel Tower, in New Year’s Day and finished 3 weeks later at Rose Lake in Dakar, Senegal, – a 6370 miles long route.
Jutta Kleinschmidt drove a Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero with her German co-driver Andreas Schulz and came in first, two and half minutes faster than the Japanese driver Hiroshi Masuoka and his French co-driver Pascal Maimon.
The first Dakar rally took place in 1978 – the French rally driver Thierry Sabine as initiator. 170 drivers, 90 motorcycles and 80 cars, participated in this rally, called the Paris-Alger-Daker. 74 reached the finish.
2001, when Jutta Kleinschmidt won, the participation was huge: 133 motorcycles, 113 cars, 30 race trucks and 34 nationalities. Not even the half of the drivers crossed the finish line. During the 21 days, four drivers stood out among the other competitors, changing lead several times. Kleinschmidt managed to lead the last 135 miles across Senegal.
The year she won, Jutta Kleinschmidt was 38 years old. She started with motorsport in 1987, at the age of 24. Her first competition was the 2000 miles long off-road Pharaohs Rally, driving a motorcycle. In 1993, she changed vehicle and began her career in the class of cars, during the UAE Desert Challange, as Schlesser’s co-driver. One year later, she took part in the Tunisia Rally as driver. Until 1997, she drove both motorcycles and cars. In the Dakar-Agades-Dakar Rally in 1997 she came fifth, in the Granada-Dakar Rally in 1999 she took third place. She began to make a career.
It’s fantastic, incredible, I can hardly believe it. To be the first woman to win the Dakar is not the most important thing for me. Above all I am a driver.
– Jutta Kleinschmidt