Dakar or Bust!
What would it look like if you decided to race in the iconic Dakar Rally a mere two weeks before the deadline to register? Well it looks a little something like Team Lerner's historic 2nd place run in the newly formed Dakar Classic in January of 2021 through Saudi Arabia.
From a two week deadline to register, a first time co-pilot/navigator, and meeting her car the day before racing it at speed through the desert, Amy Lerner and her team overcame great odds to place in the first ever running of the Dakar Classic.
Amy's trip to the Dakar Classic started in mid-October 2020. With great connections throughout the industry, she began calling upon her friends to see if this would even be possible with a looming deadline to register at the end of the month. There were many obstacles to overcome in a very short amount of time, chief among them being locating a car that met the rigorous guidelines for competing in the newly formed Dakar Classic. Fortunately the stars began to align as Amy found her car overseas, only to meet it the day before the rally began with a few "laps" in a parking lot. Imagine preparing for a high-speed rally through dessert terrain in a rear-engine, rear-drive, manual transmission sports car that you have only spent a couple of minutes driving it the day before.
Pair the unknowns of piloting a unfamiliar car with a co-pilot and navigator who has never competed in motorsport before, much less barely enjoy driving, as Amy taps her good friend and architect from Barcelona, Sara Bossaert, for this high honor. The co-pilot and navigator responsable for many feats of mental strength and is charged with ensuring all the proper speeds are met and maintained through the rally, as well as informing the driver of obstacles and maneuvers ahead. Each day the co-pilot is given a book with notes to sort through in the early morning during their short 30 minute liaison drive to the rally point. What a great friend to have that would jump in on such short notice at such an imposing task.
With all those odds against her, Amy was still highly competitive in her class, as well as a little lucky. Through the power of German engineering, Team Lerner was blessed to have only two minor mechanical issues throughout their twelve day rally. This, coupled with her superior driving prowess allowed her and her rookie co-pilot to place second in their class.
Be sure to listen to our podcast interview with Amy about her experience at the Dakar Classic 2021.
Photos from Team Lerner on Facebook.
For more information about Amy, her team, and the newly created Dakar Classic Rally, read the notes from media contact (and friend of Garage Talk) Sue Mead
The Dakar Classic is a regularity rally for past rally-raid vehicles built before 2000 that runs in parallel to the main Dakar Rally following the same direction. It is a test of endurance, vehicle management and mental will. It will have the same starting, finishing points and bivouac. The Dakar honors its past as it strides towards the future. The Dakar Classic gives vintage car buffs the opportunity to relive the adventures of the early rally trailblazers while supporting the initiatives that aim to put renewable power at the heart of the rally.
Amy has been racing off-road and in rally for 10+ years. Her first rally was the Gazelle Rally in Morocco; she’s been back 4 times and was part of the first American team to crack the top 10. She won her class at 2013’s Australasian Safari rally as well as winning Overall Production and the Dakar Challenge. Amy has been on the podium at the Mint 400, driving Rod Hall’s Baja 1000-winning 1968 Bronco and competed at the all women’s Rebelle Rally in the Southwestern USA. She is looking forward to a new challenge in the regularity format and using her experience racing in vintage/production vehicles to finish strong. Amy recently produced and directed “One More Win”, a documentary about off-road legend, Rod Hall. Amy lives in New Jersey with her husband and 2 children.
Co-Pilot - Sara Bossaert
Sara is looking forward to her first automotive race of any kind. She is a competitive sailor and plans to use her offshore navigation experience to be very competitive in the Dakar Classic. Sara and Amy have worked together in their business of renovating 19th century apartments in Barcelona. Their good working relationship should translate well into their new office in the front of a vintage Porsche. Sara lives in Barcelona, where she works as an architect, with her partner and daughter.
Media/Team Manager - Sue Mead
Sue Mead, an award-winning automotive journalist, has experienced the Dakar Rally 4 times, including as driver of record for 2011’s class win. Her 30+ years of work in the automotive industry and off-rod racing will allow her to guide the team’s media program including print, online, podcasts and television.