RIYADH: Dania Akeel is a woman in a hurry.
The Saudi racer and self-described “motorsports athlete” last year became the first Arab woman to win the World Cup for the T3 Desert Baja Rally in Italy, and added another first to her achievements by becoming the first Saudi and Arab to claim a top 10 finish in the international Dakar Rally, which finished in Jeddah on Jan. 14.
The two-week, multi-stage Dakar Rally is widely regarded as one of the toughest and most challenging motorsports events in the world.
The 2022 event held in Saudi Arabia lived up to its reputation, with most competitors happy just to have completed the demanding desert course.
For Akeel, however, there was a lot more at stake.
“At last I have achieved my goal,” she said after crossing the finish line in Jeddah in eighth place — in a historic first for herself and her Saudi homeland.
“My biggest ambition was to finish the rally, but I discovered that I had the opportunity to achieve a better result,” she said.
Akeel survived the demanding rally stages thanks to a strategy developed with the help of her experienced copilot, Uruguayan Sergio Lafontier.
“The strategic plan helped us a lot. The most important aim was to avoid mistakes and delays in order to be among the top 10in the T3 category,” she said.
“After reaching the finish line, I thanked all those who supported me in making this achievement, and especially the companies that provided all the necessary support.”
Akeel achieved her goal by meticulously executing her strategy in the second half of the rally.
After 14 days of unrelenting competition in the demanding event, she is now looking forward to further success in the 2022 season.
She expressed joy for her historic achievement and appreciation to her growing numbers of fans around the world.