Laia Sanz is an amazing competitor—and not just because she’s won 14 world trials championships in her career. In a new short documentary, we get a look inside her head and find out a bit more about what makes her so good.
As with most people, there’s no single answer. Instead, it’s a combination of things that have made Sanz who she is in 2021. Like most professional motorsports competitors in the modern era, she started when she was incredibly young. At just four years of age, she recalls, she started grabbing her big brother’s motorcycle and riding it.
What did her family think? Her dad rode and wrenched on bikes, and her brothers were into riding as well. At no point did anyone say “oh, Laia, you shouldn’t be doing that.” They thought it was great that she was interested, and encouraged her to go out and ride. She distinctly remembers her dad sitting her on the tank of one of his bikes, and says that’s how she learned to work the throttle. Once she had shown that she could do it, she started riding hand-me-down bikes from her big brothers, up until she was 12 or so. Then, she finally got her first brand-new motorbike of her own.
From the beginning, skills of teamwork and mental toughness are what she says have made a real difference in her career. Trials work requires both—and she should know. Prior to her first trials career retirement, Sanz racked up 13 world championships. Then she hung it up to go compete in enduro—not because she felt like she was some expert in the discipline, but because she wanted to challenge herself and learn something new. Also, she said, she saw a move to enduro riding as another step in her ultimate goal of doing Dakar rallies.
Like most people, she didn’t start out as some kind of prodigy at enduro. Little by little, her skills improved—and then she was able to achieve her goal of doing multiple Dakar rallies. What’s more, she finished every single one of the eleven Dakar Rallies she contested. The January 2021 run may have been the hardest, because she’d just battled Lyme disease in 2020.
That, she said, was part of what persuaded her to stop doing Dakars and return to the world trials stage with GasGas. How much had changed in the eight years since she’s been away? She didn’t know, but she wanted to find out—and then she won yet another championship in June 2021.
Work-life balance and keeping her feet on the ground and a humble head on her shoulders are the main qualities that Sanz says have helped her throughout her career. Looking at all she’s accomplished, who could argue?