“I think it’s pretty cool that the classic car market has gone crazy and the world of classic car racing has also skyrocketed,” says Lerner. “To me, even in the midst of Covid-19, this is an outlet that is not only profitable but has grown exponentially. That fascinates me.”
Countless famous drivers have competed in the Dakar over the last 40 years. Even F1 Jacky Ickx joined the fray in a 1981 Citroen CX and while he had to abandon the rally in the closing stages due to mechanical problems, he came back and won it in 1983. Ickx is one of Lerner’s heroes and he stopped by to help to speak to her and see the 1982 Porsche she had prepared as a tribute to him. Knowing that the Dakar is the longest and most grueling off-road competition in the world, Ickx was reportedly impressed that Lerner would be driving a Porsche from his era.
Trained as a competitive sailor and originally from Barcelona, Bossaert shouldered a lift that was as important as driving. Lerner and Bossaert have developed a friendship for several years and Bossaert jumped at the opportunity to try the Dakar with her friend last year, even without any experience on land.
“The Dakar was the first rally that I drove in my life or even sat in a rally car,” remembers Bossart. “I didn’t know anything. Zero. It was so crazy it felt like I was in a dream. This year I knew what I was getting myself into, so the initial nervousness was gone. You just want to keep getting better.”
As co-pilot and navigator, Bossaert was tasked with guiding the team through ever-changing terrain. The co-pilot’s job is to provide constant direction to the driver and set the course forward, watch for rocks or dangerous terrain that the driver may not see, and review course notes. At the same time, she does the calculations to keep them not only on track but on time.
The team of Lerner and Bossart took second place in stage 3 and got a jump right out of the gate. Their rank rose and fell every day, and they suffered a significant setback for Stage 8, finishing 92nd. Incredibly, they had an outstanding day on stage 9 and shot from the basement to the top and won the stage. Though they didn’t make the top 10, the Navigator says they went from “What do we need to do” in 2021 to “How can we do this better” in 2022. You love it and I would. Don’t be surprised if they come back next year.
Meanwhile, Lerner has just finished her documentary film Another win, which focuses on legendary driver Rod Hall. Lerner trained with Hall, also a Dakar graduate, before his passing in 2019. She accompanied Hall with her camera for two years, capturing the moment he set a record in 2017 just before his 80th birthday. Hall competed in his 50th Baja 1000, one for each year of the rally’s existence up to that point.
Can you imagine driving through the Saudi desert in a 40-year-old vintage rear-wheel drive Porsche? Imagine what this team could do in a Range Rover.
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