Laia Sanz Pla-Giribert (born 11 December 1985), also known as Laia Sanz, is a Spanish sportswoman. She is a thirteen-time Women's Trial World Champion and ten-time Women's Trial European Champion in outdoor motorcycle trials.
She has also a member of the Spanish Female Team in the Trial des Nations, helping the team win the event five times (2000, 2002, 2008, 2010, 2011).
In 2010, she competed in the Women's Enduro World Championship for the first time. In 2011, she participated for the first time in the Dakar Rally, winning the Female motorcycle category and finishing 39th overall, a position that she managed to repeat a year later.
Born in 1985, Sanz learned how to ride a bicycle when she was two years old. The first contact with a motorbike came the same year, when her father used to seat her on the petrol tank of his bike and ride her around. By the time she was four, the passion had grown and, without telling anybody, she began to ride her brother's motorbike. Laia's older brother, Joan, also a motorbike aficionado, had a Montesa Cota 25 cc.
In 1992, aged seven and encouraged by her mother, she participated in a race at the Catalan Junior Championship that was taking place in her village. She finished eighth and last, but she wanted to come back for more. The next year she joined the Championship from race one. With that step she joined a male-dominated sport without any female championships at the time.
In 1997 Sanz won her first race in a male championship, riding an 80 cc bike. She also took part in an international female Trial competition for the first time. In 1998, she took part in the First Edition of the Women's Trial European Championship, unofficial at the time, and won. She was only twelve years old and competing against more mature raiders, attracting attention from fans and professional teams. Thanks to such a great result she started to consider a professional career as a rider. Also that year she took part in the Spanish Trial Championship, where she was the only female rider.
In 2000, Sanz won the Spanish Cadet Championship, again the only female rider. This is the most satisfying of her titles according to her. This year sees the First edition of the official Women's Trial European Championship and Women's Trial World Championship. She takes part in both and achieves her first World title and finishes second in the European Championship. She also takes part as a member of the Spanish team in the first edition of the Female Trial Des Nations. And she wins it.
From then on she has collected many titles in female international competitions, winning the Women's Trial World Championship seven consecutive times (2000–2006). She has also competed in Male Championships with good achievements.
She has raced for Beta, but in 2004 she moved to the official Montesa team. She has won World, European and Spanish titles with both makers. Her teammates at Montesa-HRT were Toni Bou and Takahisa Fujinami until 2011. For the 2012 season she raced for Gas Gas.
In 2010 Sanz finally got the much awaited chance to train for the Dakar Rally, a childhood dream, and joined the Dakar Legend Jordi Arcarons as a trainer, another childhood dream. She also participated in the Women’s Enduro World Championship as part of her training for the Dakar and, she achieved a respectable third place after only participating in two of the three events. She also kept competing in observed trials where she won World, Europe and Spanish championship and Trial des Nations.
She participated in the 2011 edition of the Dakar Rally, on a Honda CRF450X as part of the Team Arcarons RST KH-7, with Arcarons as a backup. She won the Female class, and managed a consistent performance with a 39th position overall. At the Women’s Enduro World Championship she took part in all the events and finished second.
For the 2012 edition of the Dakar Rally she moved to the Gas Gas team, making their official début at the rally, and had Marc Guasch as her backup. Sanz suffered and accident during the 4th stage and injured her hand and damaged the petrol tank in her Gas Gas 450 cc but she kept going and managed to finish the stage. Despite having to ride “solo” for the rest of the rally, Sainz repeated her 39th position and, being the only woman to finish the rally raid on a motorbike, Female class.
In 2015, Sanz achieved her best finish and also the best finish ever for a female rider at the Dakar, taking 9th place in the motorbike class on a Honda.
In the 2016 edition of the Dakar Rally Sanz raced for KTM and placed 15th in the motorbike general ranking.^A
Refers to position achieved with Spanish National Team.