But of course, she went. Every day, in her Buggyra Red-Lined Revo T1+ together with experienced French co-driver Sebastien Delauney. It was only her second Dakar and the first time the 19-year-old Dubai-born racer competed the Dakar in the top Ultimate car class, though in a non-turbo car. She didn’t only meet some of the top-class drivers of the world personally, she beat them outright, finishing 25th overall, making her 12th overall in the FIA World Rally Raid Championship
The good days…
“On the 48-hour-stage, I was in the same bivouac with most of the Dakar legends, so that was really cool,” Aliyyah says with a big smile. “I saw Sebastien Loeb, Carlos Sainz, and many others. It was a great experience sleeping under the stars, so those two days were for sure my favorite,” Aliyyah remembers.
Martin Koloc, her father and team principal of Buggyra ZM Racing, summarizes Aliyyah’s Dakar performance: “Aliyyah took on this challenging task admirably from the start. She drove flawlessly, confidently, though the second stage was marred by a manufacturing defect in the front axle. Nonetheless, we had no issues with reliability, and Aliyyah improved with every stage. Her excellent performance in Chrono48 reflects her mastery in the dunes, her strongest area. “
… and the difficult ones
But of course, there were difficult days too. “Stage 11 was probably the worst day of those two weeks,” Aliyyah explains. “At the beginning of the stage, we were going very slowly, so we wouldn’t get a puncture. A few cars got ahead of us, but then they had punctures and we passed them again. At about kilometer 300, we had our first puncture, then another. There was a lot going on, even in terms of navigation.”
Martin Koloc explains the difficulties of the Dakar from a different perspective: “The Dakar tests the drivers’ mental toughness, not just their physical abilities. Aliyyah is strong in this regard too. For me, cross-country rallying is probably the world’s most mentally demanding sport. Each stage is like playing for the match point in tennis for seven straight hours. The smallest mistake can potentially end your Dakar. The average heart rate of the driver in the car is between 160 and 165 bpm, a testament to the physical and mental demands.”
I love my team!
But the Dakar and motorsport in general is a team sport. Without the co-driver, the mechanics, the engineers, a driver couldn’t participate in the Dakar though working with the team demands special skills of a driver. “Aliyyah is emerging as a team leader,” says Martin Koloc. “I see the team rallying behind her, she communicates well and shares all important information. But I am also incredibly proud of the team. They have been working hard, with incredible spirit and dedication,” Martin explains.
Or in Aliyyah’s word: “My goodness, the team was top. I love my team. Thank you!” And continues: “I am very happy with the result. I’ll now have a short break before my next cross-country rally, the Hail in Saudi Arabia in early February. Until then, I’ll be on the beach with a good book, spend some time with my family, and I won’t think about racing until I need to again!”
To prepare Aliyyah for a turbo-powered T1+ car, a testing program has been designed by Buggyra ZM Racing and Red-Lined, the manufacturer of the T1+ car, which will start 6th of March