A crash on the penultimate day left her stranded in the Empty Quarter for hours before a car eventually stopped to give her a tow.
Pushing her bike the last couple of hundred metres across the line, Perry’s dream of completing the Dakar remained alive even if history was out of reach.
Completing the final 180km on Day 12, the 28-year-old more than earned her Dakar medal.
Against all odds Perry brought it home
One of the smallest competitors in the history of the Dakar at just 1.58m, Perry survived days of punctures, falls and endless sand dunes to sit 49th in the overall bike classification heading into the penultimate stage.
It was gutsy display from the girl from Rustenburg on her debut in the desert challenge.
However, it nearly ended 6 666km into the race.
Perry crashed, not for the first time, as she rode through Saudi Arabia’s Empty Quarter – a land of sand dune after sand dune that is bigger than France.
The crash affected her Nomade Racing KTM, causing an electrical failure that she was unable to repair.
Perry, despite her tiny stature, pushed her bike the final few hundred metres to keep her Dakar dream alive.
“Hours had gone by since a knock and a fall had left me with an electrical problem,” she said. “I had been running in the top 50, loving the dunes.
“It pretty much looked like it was game over for me. So many emotions, so many questions, no phone signal, tried so many things, ran the battery dead testing things.
“The Irritrack team kept calling me up on the bike to check on me every now and then, I’d keep telling them I’d like to wait a bit longer, ever hopeful. Evacuation meant my Dakar would be over. I’d do anything.
“It was getting late, and I believe every rider had passed me when competitors, Facu and Pablo, in their T1 Car No.389 got to me. If anyone knows what Dakar spirit is, they had it! We all had it!
“They weren’t about to let my Dakar dream die a day before the end… and hooked me up for one of the craziest rides I’ve ever had. To the end! For the long haul! They’re my Dakar heroes!”
Perry crossed the final few hundred metres on foot, pushing her bike to the line to keep her name on the list of those classified.
Dubbed the ‘Desert Rose’ by her fans, she was one of the last to start Stage 12 but finished it 54th of the 99 runners to prove she had lost none of her fighting spirit.
Beaten to the history books by Kirsten Landman
Unfortunately for Perry the one thing she did miss out on was a spot in the history books as the first African woman to complete the Dakar on a bike.
Although up on Kirsten Landman for 10 of the 12 days of racing, her Stage 11 mishap meant Kirsten pipped her to that honour.
The 28-year-old from Summervel took 56h28m16 to complete the 12 stage rally, which was just over six hours faster than Perry.
Ryobi Africa, Landman’s sponsor, celebrated the moment.
“She’s done it! Kirsten Landman has achieved her dream of crossing the Dakar Rally finish line, and becomes the first African woman to ever do so on a bike.”