Kirsten Landman‘s third Dakar Rally will have to wait until 2025. Feeling she has not fully recovered from pulmonary embolism, Landman confirmed Thursday that she will skip the 2024 race.
Landman was diagnosed with pulmonary embolism, a potentially fatal blood clot in the lungs, after finishing twelfth among Malle Moto riders at the 2023 Dakar Rally in January. She contracted COVID-19 during the race, causing her to experience heavy fatigue and flu-like symptoms during the rally’s second half, though she was unaware of her specific illness until she conducted tests upon returning home.
She was medically cleared to resume riding in April and competed in enduro events such as the Red Bull Romaniacs and Tennessee Knockout Enduro, winning the latter in the Women’s Pro Class. Her latest race was a runner-up finish in the Silver Class at the Sea to Sky in October. Landman revealed her plan to race the 2024 Dakar in June.
While enduro is no walk in the park either, Landman feels the demands of rallies in the Saudi desert for two weeks are too great for her to tackle so soon. Such a rally’s challenges are also amplified as a Malle Moto rider, meaning she competes without assistance from a team.
“This just goes back to the tough decision I made but definitely for the better after contracting COVID at Dakar, coming home, and then having to deal with my pulmonary embolism which we are still dealing with,” Landman explained. “My body’s changed, things have changed, and it’s not so quick and easy for me to recover like I used to and dealing with that during the recovery process.
“It’s taken its toll, both physically and mentally. It’s been a tough year having to deal with this. I’m very grateful that I still can compete and I can still do what I love, but I’ve got to just have to look at things, change them up and just be smart. Of course, I want to be competing for as long as I can and being active and going back into another Dakar now physically, my body’s not ready and I don’t think mentally I am either.”
Landman made her Dakar début in 2020, where she finished third among female riders. A positive COVID-19 test prevented her from returning for the 2022 edition.
The 2024 Dakar Rally will begin on 5 January.