South America's Dakar Queen
BREAKING NEW GROUND: Chile's Josefina Gardulski is the first South American female in history to compete in the Dakar Rally.
As January 20 approaches; it should surprise no-one if the loudest applause in front of Santiago's Palacio de la Moneda is for Josefina Gardulski.
Long before the final podium ceremony, the Chilean has already gone down in history as the first female rider from South America to take part in the Dakar.
Chilean riders have been showing their mettle in the Dakar for a long time, first with pioneer Carlo de Gavardo and then with Francisco "Chaleco" Lopez, a key player since the rally came to his country, as well as the Prohens brothers, who always step up their game in their native Atacama.
For 2013, spectators and TV viewers will get to know Josefina Gardulski, the first South American woman to participate in the Dakar on a motorcycle. The young rider's main goal in the rally is to discover new horizons but her competitive spirit could well propel her to a respectable position in the final classification.
The Chilean cross-country and enduro champion, who put everything else on standby to prepare for the Dakar, has already proved her worth off-road:
"The only real rally I've raced in was the Desafío del Desierto, where I finished sixth. Now I want to live the Dakar experience," she said. "I just want to make it to the end!"
But Josefina, guided by her assistant John McKendrick, will no doubt be aiming for the Ladies' classification, in which she will come up against the impressive Laia Sanz (39th in the previous two races).
When push comes to shove, "Kuki" could remind all of us that she was raised in a city called Victoria.