Storming the Desert

After thundering thousands of miles across the North African desert, Jutta Kleinschmidt became the first woman to win the grueling Paris-Dakar endurance rally for off-road vehicles. The prestigious 21-day race, which is the oldest cross-country event of its kind, begins in Paris and ends in Dakar, Senegal, covering some of the most rugged terrain in Europe and Africa. Of the 113 drivers who started the race, Kleinschmidt was one of only 53 to finish. A native of Germany, Kleinschmidt has spent her life breaking down male bastions. She has a degree in physical engineering and is a former BMW engineer who began racing professionally in 1992. Two years ago, she placed third in the Paris-Dakar rally, becoming the first woman ever to win a medal. Before setting off this year, Kleinschmidt said, “I’d like to finish in the top five,” and then quickly added, “Why not first?”

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