Rosa Romero Font (Sant Hipòlit de Voltregà, Barcelona, 53 years old) already sees the finish line of her tenth Dakar rally very close, where she is already a legend – the organization awards this distinction to all drivers when they reach this figure. “I found it very funny, ten gives for many adventures, and it is something that I now share with Nani”, she comments. Her husband, Nani Roma, the third driver in history to win the race on motorcycles and cars, is not with her on this occasion. Bladder cancer shook the family just after the 2022 edition and has disrupted her usual schedule. “It has been a difficult year. When he was diagnosed we put everything aside. They called me to do the Dakar, but there was only one priority at home. There are more important things than the career, ”says this telecommunications technical engineer from her team store, which recruited her in September, four months after the trip to Saudi Arabia.
Their tenth participation is being very different, because Rosa and Nani were used to sharing their adventures and misadventures in the camp. “It seems very strange to me. I used to ride a motorcycle before and it was very hard physically, very tired. When I arrived at the bivouac, since he had more means in an official team, even though it was very late he had a plate of hot food waiting for me. It was almost like being at home, that’s how I felt, ”he recalls. His three dogs and three children have stayed in Spain, who this year have spent the first New Year of their lives with their father. “Don’t worry, I’ll stay watching the castle,” her husband told her, who hadn’t spent a New Year’s Eve at home since 1994. “I know that they are fine at home and that Nani is distracted by the TV [participa en el programa resumen diario en Teledeporte]”, he calms down.
In the two and a half weeks thousands of kilometers away, mobile messages are the best resource for comfort. “When I have time during the link I send him something, but he is busy and with the time difference it is difficult for us,” he admits. The only video call she was able to make during the rest day in Riyadh on the 9th, when she also took the opportunity to talk to the little ones: “In the race you are absorbed. It’s pure adrenaline, stress… with such intensity you don’t have time for anything”. Romero is co-pilot for the fourth year and participates together with Pedro Peñate Muñoz (Valsequillo, Las Palmas, 53 years old), a good friend and experienced travel companion who made him a motorcycle backpacker in 2012. They are 34th in T4 after a electronic problem forced them to give up the two stages of crossing the Rub’ al Khali desert. Using the wild cards awarded by the competition since 2020, they will be able to cross the finish line in Dammam this Sunday and equal their best result.
“We found many stones along the way, but we are solving every day,” he reflects. It is the other side of the Dakar, that of the less competitive vehicles. They cross the roads destroyed by the front group and it usually gets dark, although that has its advantages. “We arrive late, but we also leave later and we can sleep a little more in the morning,” she smiles. The TH-Trucks Canarias Team has partnered with the Pequeño Valiente Association, which supports the families of minors suffering from cancer on the islands, a coincidence that ended up convincing Rosa to bet on the project: “With children it is even more Lasted. I thought it was a great idea to be able to contribute.”
Despite the good company and the fact that her husband has recovered from the disease, she still suffers from a distance: “I feel bad for him, it’s hard to be so far away.” For the 2024 edition, she only asks to be able to share nights at the bivouac again. “I hope he is 100% recovered and has a cool project. In the end, when this happens to you, your priorities in life change. The first thing is to be well and improve, so let’s go step by step ”, she concludes. Tomorrow she will once again hug Nani, the children and the dogs, who has become a Dakar legend.
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