Saturday , September 30 2023

Akeel, Dani: Meet the Saudi woman competing in one of the toughest motor races in the world.

Dania Akeel’s voice crackles through the intercom above the roar of the engine and the rush of wind through the windowless cabin of her rugged, black UTV, her head cradled in a crash helmet.

Akeel tells CNN Sport, “We’re so lucky.” I mean, take a look at this place; it’s so gorgeous.

The Saudi masterfully steers the vehicle along a winding dirt road past Joshua trees and rocks before blasting it across the dry sand past the rusting shell of an abandoned pickup truck.

“This is what we get paid to do, right?” proceeds with 34-year-old Akeel, pondering her picked calling as she plans for her second slant at the notorious Dakar Rally, one of the world’s longest and most requesting perseverance races.

In a Can-Am Maverick X3 X RS Turbo RR, CNN is riding shotgun with one of the most remarkable stories in cross-country racing, about an hour north of Phoenix, Arizona.

The Jeddah-born athlete had never even tried this kind of racing before just over two years ago. Additionally, Akeel is from a nation where women have been restricted from driving on public roads since 2018.

Training for the Dakar Rally is ideal in the Arizona desert.
Training for the Dakar Rally is ideal in the Arizona desert.
Can-Am’s Brandon Bunch

Dakar Race

The Paris-Dakar Rally was the original name for “The Dakar” in 1978. It ran every year from France to Senegal until 2007 yet when the 2008 occasion was dropped because of safety concerns, the convention was relocated across the Atlantic, and went through South America until 2020, when it moved once more, to Saudi Arabia.

The rally currently has five main vehicle categories: UTVs, quad bikes, motorcycles, trucks, and cars

Even before the world-famous rally came to her home country, Akeel had a strong interest in automobiles.

She tells CNN, “When I was younger, I had a lot of interest in cars.” Actually, it wasn’t just cars; anything I could drive, including bicycles, was the choice.

“You know, I simply love development. I adore being outside. I simply love the way it felt to convey to the machine, to inspire it to go from A to B.”

Her young life was spent difficult a wide range of various methods of transport.

She elaborates, “I started driving things like quad bikes and go karts at a young age.” I drove dirt bikes with two wheels when I was a little older.

“These are just vehicles that would be in private homes, on a farm, or places like that, where I had access to these kinds of machines, and I would just use them for fun with my cousins and friends on the weekends,” says the person who owns the equipment.

When her family moved to the UK, where she attended high school and college, her interest in automobiles grew even more.

She recalls, “I was very fortunate to travel frequently with my parents.” We used to have a lot of fun going to England’s kart tracks.

The opportunity to drive out and about

When Akeel was 17 years old, the opportunity to drive on the road presented itself to her in the UK, which at the time was firmly closed to her at home. She seized the opportunity without delay and obtained her driving license.

She even admits that the opportunities to drive influenced her decision to attend Royal Holloway College, a picturesque college on the western edge of the English capital, for her undergraduate studies.

Akeel’s mind began to race when he made the switch to two wheels.

“I got my motorcycle license when I was 27 years old, and that was a lot of fun. As a result, the motorcycle began to point me toward the racing industry.

Subsequent to acquiring a graduate degree in Global Business, from Hult College, she moved to Dubai and began riding on the Dubai Autodromo course.

“I could see that I was truly cherishing the game and living it up and a portion of the racers urged me to go along with them, to race the in the public series,” says Akeel.

I went to get the racing license tests and exams done, and then I got my license from the Saudi Motor Sports Federation. Also, that is the means by which I began dashing.”

An accident was the literal catalyst for switching to cross-country racing.

Akeel fell while attending a 600cc Superstock event in Bahrain in February 2020 when she lost control of her bike.

“I had a “low side” fall, which is the lesser and easier fall because I fell onto the track on the side the bike was leaning toward.”

The six-feet-one-inch-tall Akeel views herself as lucky.

“I had a lot of luck. My spine and pelvis both had a few broken bones, but they were all fractures that could heal on their own. So, I thought that was a very fortunate outcome, and I was relieved and grateful.

consciously prepared

Akeel went back to Jeddah to recuperate because the Covid pandemic was beginning to cause widespread border closures and lockdowns at the time.

She began to consider the appeal of off-road and rally racing while resting, particularly in light of the fact that Saudi Arabia was hosting the Dakar Rally for the first time.

It’s a fantastic event. It spans the globe. She elaborates, “It’s a lot of fun and has a lot of people from all over the world coming in large numbers.”

Akeel began competing in the global rally series known as the FIA World Cup for Cross Country Bajas, which was inspired by the eponymous races held on Mexico’s Baja peninsula.

She explains, “(I wanted) to get used to the idea of being in different situations, different terrain, which Dakar gives you, across 9,000 kilometers of Saudi Arabia, and it’s actually very diverse.” Dakar is a race that spans Saudi Arabia.

So, when I went to the cross-country Baja World Cup, I had three rounds in Europe and two in the Middle East, and driving in each of those places was very different.

So, I discovered, for instance, that Italy was muddy and Hungary had a lot of gravel and water. In the Middle East, there were a lot of rocky, bumpy places with sand and dunes. As a result, my mind became more prepared for variety and prepared to engage with the unknown.

According to Akeel, one of the most important aspects of preparing for the Dakar is being prepared for the unexpected.

She explains, “You can be mentally well prepared if you have this mentality that anything can happen at any moment and you expect things to constantly evolve.”

Physically, things are a different story: I exercise regularly, eat well, and get enough sleep.

Due to Akeel’s success, numerous well-known sponsors have already signed on.

About admin

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *