Astara Team's diversity on the Dakar, the key to its success
5 January 2023. This year Astara, the leading global mobility company, returns to its second Dakar rally with the Astara Team and does so with a stronger team: three drivers and a team of more than 30 people where diversity and talent are the key to performing well in a competition as demanding as the Dakar, the greatest challenge in motorsport in the world. In addition to the drivers and co-drivers, they are accompanied by eight support vehicles, a 'Team Principal', two team leaders, 11 mechanics, engineers, a physiotherapist, a press team and several logistical support staff. A powerful structure that has been created to face this edition of the Dakar with total guarantee and to demonstrate that technological excellence and competition at the highest level are absolutely compatible not only with respect for the environment but also with diversity of gender, origin, culture, age and professional profile.
A good example is Mariette Blommie Venter, an assistant from Namibia, who emphasizes:
Blommie works hand in hand with another of this year's signings, engineer Jessica Nebra. The mechanic has been involved in racing for more than 25 years, also as a sports event organizer and rally co-driver.
Nebra was national champion of rally co-drivers in 2015, her team has won four consecutive Clio Cup championships, she has competed in more than 50 national and international rallies (Portugal, Montecarlo...), in raids she has participated two years in the Baja Aragon and took part in the Dakar 2021 as a mechanic in a T3. Jessica is also a technical commissioner for the Royal Spanish Automobile Federation (RFEDA).
ASTARA IS COMMITTED TO DIVERSITY TO CREATE THE BEST TEAM
Astara, as the innovative global mobility company that it is, puts the human being at the centre of everything they do: "We are driven by our team and each of the people who make it up and, without a doubt, we highly value the experience and background that each person brings, but even more so the attitudes and values that they demonstrate in their day-to-day work. We are convinced that the courage, curiosity, determination, commitment and loyalty of our employees are a fundamental key to success," says Rocío Rufilanchas, Astara's Chief People Officer.
The global mobility company is currently present in 17 countries in Europe, Latin America and South East Asia with a diverse team of almost 3,000 people from more than 25 countries. Passion, generosity, daring, innovation, team spirit, ability to adapt, working together to overcome problems and learn from every success and every mistake.... All these values that define Astara are being put to the test on the best possible stage, the Dakar 2023.
It is a competition team that pursues the best sporting result, and to achieve it this year the Astara Team has the best profiles. "This has led us to opt for diversity to enrich the team, which is why we have expanded our search for the best professionals outside Spain. This year the team is made up of Spanish, Portuguese, South African and Italian technical staff, and even more women have joined the team, who are highly prestigious professionals in their respective positions", explains Víctor Vázquez, one of the team leaders of the Astara Team.
THE IMPORTANCE OF CREATING AND PREPARING A GOOD TEAM
The Dakar is a team sport and a team adventure. On the ground, there are people and a whole race organization creating the conditions for all the participants to do their job. Each member of the team plays an essential role in making the adventure a success. In an activity as demanding as the Dakar, team cohesion is constantly put to the test. "It's easy to feel part of the team, to stay motivated and to trust when things are going well, but on the Dakar there are many things that can go wrong," says Gonzalo Martinez, CEO of the management consultancy Infova-Ethica. The smartest teams work on cohesion before setting off for the competition, and this is what the Astara Team has done. Over several days, Infova-Ethica took charge of encouraging staff members to meet face-to-face, working on their self-esteem as a group and facing challenges that would seem impossible to solve as a team.
WHAT DOES DIVERSITY BRING TO THE MEMBERS OF THE ASTARA TEAM?
Working in an environment of maximum tension such as the Dakar requires trust, conflict management, commitment and responsibility, always oriented towards seeking the best possible results. Astara's commitment to diversity in its team has been key to the success of the Astara Team.
Carlos Checa, rider: "Undoubtedly, diversity is an added value that brings a lot to a challenge like the Dakar and it does so probably because the variety of ages, specialization, origins, .... adds versatility and adaptability, which are the two keys to face a race of these characteristics in which improvisation and immediate reaction are very important because everything happens, evolves and can surprise you very quickly. Apart from the competition, on a day-to-day basis, diversity enriches coexistence, enriches us as people and makes everything that surrounds the competition more bearable and interesting".
This year, several women stand out in the Astara Team for their great professional value. The first of them is Laia Sanz. The Astara Team rider has 14 world and 10 European women's trial titles, 7 in the Trial of Nations, 11 victories in the Dakar Rally Women's Motorcycle Trophy, 6 women's enduro world championships. She has managed to finish all the editions she has competed in the Dakar, 11 on a bike and one in a car, and has also competed in Extreme E in 2021 and 2022, sharing the wheel with Carlos Sainz. On the importance of the team, Laia Sanz says: "The Dakar is not just about drivers and co-drivers, the mechanics are a very important part, and we all have to work together to avoid problems and to do good stages".
Another of these essential women in the Astara Team is Iona Hernández, a mechanic who has accumulated experience in karting, in the Spanish and German touring car championships and even in IMSA -in Mooresville, North Carolina-, in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, in the European Le Mans Series, in the WEC... In addition, in 2021, she was also in the Dakar alongside Jessica Nebra.
From there, as we hear every year in the prologue stage, the real Dakar is about to begin. The Astara Team on the Dakar is the best reflection of Astara's commitment to talent and diversity.