Miguel Puertas: “I want to complete 100,000km in one of the world’s toughest races”.
The Granada-born racer has completed the Dakar nine straight times and is on the cusp of unique feat.
Lieutenant colonel in the Spanish Air Force, Miguel Puertas was born in Granada, but moved to Murcia in 1987 to join the Spanish Air Force Academy, where he started his military career. He completed his training in the Spanish Air Force Academy as a lieutenant in 1992. Miguel is a combat fighter pilot with over 3,500 hours flying time in jets and experience at the controls of C-101, F5 and F18 aircraft. He was a member of the Patrulla Aguila, the Spanish Air Force’s aerobatic display team, for 10 years. “Aircraft require a different type of piloting. You are not stretched to the limit quite as much as in the Dakar. Accidents are normally fatal, so you get used to keeping everything under control. I’ve been able to apply my military experience to the Dakar. I can experience the risks and limits more closely”.
Puertas abandoned his first Dakar, in 2004, but has finished every one he has faced since then. Respected and appreciated by his fellow riders as one of the most reliable racers, he is about to make history with this year’s edition, etching his name and that of the HIMOINSA Team in gold letters for completing his 10th consecutive Dakar. “I have completed the Dakar nine times. To do this, you need luck at times when you are on the verge of quitting. There have been times when I’ve had both feet out of the raid, but have been able to go on and to finish. I have 90,000km under my belt and this year will make it to 100,000km in one of the world’s toughest races. This is a mark of stamina and perseverance that I want to reach. I want to give back to HIMOINSA what it has given me in all this time”.
The Granada rider has experienced moments that will long be remembered by Dakar professionals and fans alike. In the 2013 edition, Puertas had to tow his team partner at the time, Laia Sanz, for 320km, helping her to complete the stage and go on to win in the women’s category. This was not the first time Puertas showed his solidarity; a year earlier he towed Argentine racer Pablo Busin for 110 km. Despite these gestures, Miguel has also seen the ugliest part of the race. Last year, he was run over, literally, by French driver Roman Chabot’s buggy. The reckless driving of the Red Bull racer, who did not stop to help Puertas, could have ended his life. Puertas delivered another historical performance, completing his ninth consecutive Dakar with two torn ligaments in his shoulder.