The Iron Lady

January 11 th 2020 - 18:52 [GMT + 3]

Taye Perry grew up on a farm near Pretoria, South Africa. The energetic pocket rocket is getting closer to pulling off the feat she was born for: becoming the first African woman to finish the Dakar on a motorbike.

120 Perry Taye (zaf), KTM, Nomade Racing, Moto, Bike, Motul, action during Stage 6 of the Dakar 2020 between Ha'il and Riyadh, 830 km - SS 478 km, in Saudi Arabia, on January 10, 2020 - Photo Eric Vargiolu / DPPI
120 Perry Taye (zaf), KTM, Nomade Racing, Moto, Bike, Motul, action during Stage 6 of the Dakar 2020 between Ha'il and Riyadh, 830 km - SS 478 km, in Saudi Arabia, on January 10, 2020 - Photo Eric Vargiolu / DPPI © A.S.O/DPPI/E.Vargiolu

Her twinkly eyes and curly hair are the perfect match for her dynamic approach and talk filled with enthusiasm. There is no doubt that Taye Perry is over the moon to be in the bivouac in Riyadh on the rest day of the Dakar: "Usually, there is no place like the saddle of my motorbike for me, but even if I'm not that tired, it still feels like a huge accomplishment to have overcome six stages, to feel in my element here and to know I can still make it to the finish." The South African has come a long way since she first tried her hand at motorbiking as a teenager, as Heyn Perry, her top supporter and team manager in the rally, explains: "She must have been 14 when she was browsing the picture albums from when I was younger and she came across some pictures of me doing wheelies. She immediately said she wanted to give it a go, so I bought her a motorbike and she loved it.

"The size and displacement of Taye's motorbikes have kept growing, but not so the young lady, who has continued to climb the ladder on the South African scene and won several female national championships in a row. Enough to whet her appetite for tougher challenges: "I saw Laia Sanz and other girls racing in the Dakar, so I thought I could give it a shot too. I first entered the Merzouga Rally and the Rally of Morocco. It went really well, so I said 'bingo' and signed up for the Dakar". Halfway through the race, the 1.58 m biker remains guarded about her prospects of making it to the finish in spite of her natural optimism: "I know there'll be loads of dunes in the next week, and this is where I could struggle. When I take a tumble, it's really hard for me to lift a 150 kg motorbike from the ground, so I have to make sure I don't find myself in this situation 20 or 30 times a day."

#120 Perry Taye (zaf), KTM, Nomade Racing, Moto, Bike during the Dakar 2020's Podium Start in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia on January 4, 2020
#120 Perry Taye (zaf), KTM, Nomade Racing, Moto, Bike during the Dakar 2020's Podium Start in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia on January 4, 2020 © A.S.O./C.Lopez

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