DakarExtreme E

Ahlin-Kottulinsky, Seel win inaugural Saudi women’s rally raid

3 Mins read
Credit: Mikaela Åhlin-Kottulinsky

Rally Jameel, the first all-women’s rally raid in Saudi Arabia, was held over the weekend with a three-leg battle from Hail to Riyadh. By the end, the #21 Sweden Challenge duo of Mikaela Åhlin-Kottulinsky and Annie Seel were triumphant. The all-Swedish duo accumulated 2,166.590 points, over nine more than runner-up Atefa Saleh and Eleanor Coker of Galaxy.

Unlike other rally raids that are dependent on speed and time, Rally Jameel uses a points system that rewards teams based on their navigation skills. Sharing a Toyota RAV4, Åhlin-Kottulinsky and Seel racked up the most points in the first leg but was deducted twelve points due to penalties that sank them to third with a score of 544.552, trailing decorated Saudi off-roader Dania Akeel and Susana Hernando‘s 549.984 but still the best of the five AW4 class teams.

Sweden Challenge took the lead in the second leg with a performance that totalled 856.545 points, giving them the edge over a trio of American teams led by the #27 of Rosamond Dana and Susanne Saxten. Leg #3 saw the U.S.-based Team Wild Grace of Lyn Woodward and Sedona Blinson lead the overall with 771.882 points, while Sweden Challenge ranked tenth with 763.476; despite the drop, the #21 still topped AW4 by thirty-one points.

By the end, Sweden Challenge’s 2,166.590 points topped the leaderboard while Galaxy finished second with 2,157.263. Rounding out the podium with 2,155.246 points was the Toyota Prado of Saudi driver Maha Al Hamly and Pochola Hernández.

Åhlin-Kottulinsky headlined the field of sixty-eight drivers as the current Extreme E Championship leader, where she is incidentally also paired up with a fellow Swede in Johan Kristoffersson at defending champion Rosberg X Racing. She posted on Instagram, “First ever female rally in Saudi Arabia – and we got P1! We are of course really happy, but the main thing about this rally is the spirit it had, promoting female drivers, each one of us supporting each other throughout the event, and inspiring the young generation, or actually all generations that if you wanna become a female racer – you can!

“It’s been a pleasure sharing the car with Annie, I’ve learned so much from all her experience of navigation in the desert and how to tackle its obstacles […] And also for those average speed zones, Annie killed it / it’s not as easy to manage to keep average of 38/43/49 km/h as you may think!!”

Credit: Rally Jameel

Seel has raced in the Dakar Rally since 2002 with extensive experience in motorbikes before switching to four-wheel vehicles in 2014. She was the highest-finishing female rider in the Bikes category at the 2010 race.

“It feels fantastic to be one of the participants in this historic rally for women in a country where four years ago it was forbidden for us women to drive,” read a post from Seel (in Swedish, roughly translated into English). “Now, on the other hand, a lot is being invested in order for women to have a greater place in society. The team that came second was, for example, sponsored by the first university that is open to women and men. It’s a big change in the whole of Saudi society, of which Rally Jameel is a part.

“This rally was tougher than I thought. There was strong opposition from several teams. The Saudi reigning world champion in rally raid was present. Some American teams had experience of just navigation rally. Even an impressive number of beginners were really good.”

Of the sixty-eight drivers in the grid, forty-two were Saudi. Eighteen of the thirty-four teams fielded all-Saudi lineups, with the highest finisher being Phoenix‘s Fatimah Albloushi and Rawa Al Tuhami in twelfth overall and winning the PT8 category.

Saleh and Coker won the PT6 division by 3.306 points. In the AW8 class, the #5 Pteromin-Nissan Patrol of Nour Hakim and Alaa Bakhsh (twenty-ninth overall) won with 1,631.102 points to the #12 SHERO of Elham Alfahad and Saja Kamal‘s 1,591.545. Lujain Alsharif and Sultanah Alawishir (thirty-second) recorded 1,214.155 as the only team in PR, and the same was the case in AW6 for Abeer Al Saud and Nawal Almougadry (thirty-third, 755.476).

Race results

FinishNumberDriverNATCo-DriverNATTeamVehicleClassTotal Score
121Annie SeelSWEMikaela Åhlin-KottulinskySWESweden ChallengeToyota RAV4AW42,166.590
213Atefa SalehUAEEleanor CokerUSAGalaxyToyota PradoPT62,157.263
39Maha Al HamlyKSAPochola HernándezESPMin Ard AlsahraaToyota PradoPT42,155.246
429Ewelina ChlebowskaPOLHanna RiehleGERHanna RiehleToyota FJ CruizerPT62,153.957
525Lyn WoodwardUSASedona BlinsonUSATeam Wild GraceToyota FortunerPT42,151.947
622Emme HallUSARebecca DonagheUSAHaal DonagheToyota FortunerPT42,147.855
76Yara ShalabyEGYMaud BotrosEGYGazelle Rally TeamToyota PradoPT62,140.425
827Rosamond Dana SaxtenUSASusanne SaxtenUSARosamond Dana SaxtenToyota PradoPT62,137.910
934Sanaa Al ShekailiOMAHalima Al BalushiOMAOman Automobile AssociationToyota FortunerPT42,110.713
1010Dania AkeelKSASusana HernandoESPDania AkeelToyota Land Cruiser GRPT62,109.035
1131Manar AlesayiKSALauren BradleyGBRIbexJeep WranglerPT62,100.179
1217Fatimah AlbloushiKSARawa AlTuhamiKSAPhoenixToyota Land CruiserPT62,086.782
1318Iole De SimoneITAFaridah AlbishiKSASHEROFord Bronco V6PT62,053.223
1419Ebtihal AlFahadKSAHanan SobatiALGSHEROToyota PradoPT42,051.426
1526Mona MunshiKSARawan AbdullahKSAArabian LeopardJeep WranglerPT62,041.649
1630Fawziah BakhashabKSANoor BakhashabKSABakhashab SistersIsuzu MUXPT42,027.325
1711Nada HamzahKSAZain SaidKSANadzaiDodge RAMPT62,012.887
1833Ferdos QuasimKSASara AlnaseerKSASparkToyota FortunerPT41,985.328
1932Ania ArcainiITAIzabella RekielAUSAAIRLand Rover DefenderPT61,984.856
2020Noela Benitez RiosESPCarla RauvidalESPWILOToyota Land CruiserPT41,938.418
214Fatma BanazKSAMayada BawanKSADesert HealersJeep WranglerPT61,936.147
2215Afnan AlbedinyKSAFatmah Al ShamriKSAThe DreamToyota RAV4AW41,902.142
233Haya AlsharifKSARozana MouawadKSAKashmaaLexus LXPT81,831.456
248Samar RahbiniKSAWlaa RahbiniKSABrave1MG RX8AW41,812.747
2528Merryhan AlbazKSAFarah AlyousufKSASaudi PassionMitsubishi L200PT41,809.145
2616Marwa Khir AldinSYRNaseem BinshihounKSASUMOUU TeamJeep CompassAW41,789.675
271Nujood ZahidKSADalya IslamKSAUrban BedouinLexus LX 570 SPT81,733.867
287Nada HambazazaKSAEnas HamzahKSAThe AdvisorHummerPT61,709.331
295Nour HakimKSAAlaa BakhshKSAPetromin-NissanNissan PatrolAW81,631.102
3012Elham AlfahadKSASaja KamalKSASHEROJeep Grand CherokeeAW81,591.545
3124Amal SerafiKSAAmsaa SerafiKSABrave2BaicPT41,348.576
3235Lujain AlsharifKSASultanah AlawishirKSAHima Foq AlqimaToyota PradoPR1,214.155
3323Abeer Al SaudKSANawal AlmougadryKSAEclectic RidePorsche CayennaAW6744.476
342Jalah Al GhalibKSATahani AljohanniKSAJTPorsche MacanAW4–773.988
Results are also available at the Rally Jameel website.
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About author
Justin is a History major at San Jose State University and lifelong racing fan who has worked for The Checkered Flag since 2018. His coverage mainly focuses on NASCAR, the Stadium Super Trucks, and off-road series like Extreme E and SCORE International. He also dabbles in other disciplines such as IndyCar, rallycross, and sports cars.
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