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“The Dakar was on top of my bucket list”
In the world of Baja off-road racing, she’s known as the Iron Woman. Kristen Matlock is a fighter, a competitor, and on races like the Baja 500 or 1000, there’s no sharing the driver’s seat. She’s up for it. That passion for off-road racing, that energy she has to compete for over 20 consecutive hours comes from her will power of course but also from her husband Wayne who introduced her to this world. Born and raised in San Diego, she started racing on quads before switching to UTVs in 2016, competing in all the biggest Baja events and winning her class at races like the Baja 500 and Baja 1000. Thanks to the Polaris RZR factory team, she’ll be discovering the Dakar for the first time and so will Wayne in his own SSV. Two vehicles, two Matlocks. Well aware she has a lot to learn in a discipline that is far different, Kristen will be able to count on the experience of navigator Max Eddy who did the Dakar back in 2019 alongside Cole Potts in Robby Gordon’s team. The goal is to finish. The icing on the cake would be to beat her husband. And who knows, maybe in ten years time, her two sons who already race in the Polaris Youth classes at ages 9 and 11, might be competing against their parents on the Dakar.
KM.: My passion for off-road racing comes from my husband. He comes from a big off-road racing family. I used to manage his team then I decided that I wanted to have fun too. It has become my passion. The Dakar was really on top of my bucket list. After five years racing for Polaris, they thought of us when they launched a Dakar program. We go there blind and it’s quite overwhelming. I have the driving ability but the Dakar is like a different game with the navigation aspect. I’m going to have to listen to my co-driver because navigation is what wins the event. In terms of the physical aspect, I’m not too concerned. I do what I call “iron womaning” on bajas. On the last Baja 1000, I drove from start to finish for something like 28 hours. On the Baja 500, I drove for 21 hours only stopping to refuel. I’m used to that but doing it over 12 days… My main worry is the fear of the unknown.
Concerning the result: a win would be spectacular but I’m not expecting that. If it happens you’ll see me do a backflip on the podium. This is our first year so we’re here to learn. We have a three year project on the Dakar. For now I just want to finish. With Wayne (Matlock, also racing the Dakar), we are husband and wife and we love each other, but we’ve always competed against each other. Once on the track, we fight for the best place. It’s a battle. He have however decided that on the Dakar, if one has problems, the other will stop to help.”
POLARIS RZR FACTORY RACING
- Mark : POLARIS
- Model : RZR
- Performance tuner : POLARIS RZR FACTORY RACING
- Assistance : POLARIS RZR FACTORY RACING
- Class : T4.1 Turbo production SSVs
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Kristen Matlock: "It was pretty much another shakedown"
Dakar rookie Kristen Matlock is taking her first Dakar one step at a time, which is why the American used the prologue to make sure her Polaris was in working order before venturing into the unknown tomorrow.
"It felt really good. I'm not sure how I did as a raw position, but I had fun. It was pretty much another shakedown for the car. I just wanted to make sure that we...
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