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!!”
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).
|1||21||Annie Seel||SWE||Mikaela Åhlin-Kottulinsky||SWE||Sweden Challenge||Toyota RAV4||AW4||2,166.590|
|2||13||Atefa Saleh||UAE||Eleanor Coker||USA||Galaxy||Toyota Prado||PT6||2,157.263|
|3||9||Maha Al Hamly||KSA||Pochola Hernández||ESP||Min Ard Alsahraa||Toyota Prado||PT4||2,155.246|
|4||29||Ewelina Chlebowska||POL||Hanna Riehle||GER||Hanna Riehle||Toyota FJ Cruizer||PT6||2,153.957|
|5||25||Lyn Woodward||USA||Sedona Blinson||USA||Team Wild Grace||Toyota Fortuner||PT4||2,151.947|
|6||22||Emme Hall||USA||Rebecca Donaghe||USA||Haal Donaghe||Toyota Fortuner||PT4||2,147.855|
|7||6||Yara Shalaby||EGY||Maud Botros||EGY||Gazelle Rally Team||Toyota Prado||PT6||2,140.425|
|8||27||Rosamond Dana Saxten||USA||Susanne Saxten||USA||Rosamond Dana Saxten||Toyota Prado||PT6||2,137.910|
|9||34||Sanaa Al Shekaili||OMA||Halima Al Balushi||OMA||Oman Automobile Association||Toyota Fortuner||PT4||2,110.713|
|10||10||Dania Akeel||KSA||Susana Hernando||ESP||Dania Akeel||Toyota Land Cruiser GR||PT6||2,109.035|
|11||31||Manar Alesayi||KSA||Lauren Bradley||GBR||Ibex||Jeep Wrangler||PT6||2,100.179|
|12||17||Fatimah Albloushi||KSA||Rawa AlTuhami||KSA||Phoenix||Toyota Land Cruiser||PT6||2,086.782|
|13||18||Iole De Simone||ITA||Faridah Albishi||KSA||SHERO||Ford Bronco V6||PT6||2,053.223|
|14||19||Ebtihal AlFahad||KSA||Hanan Sobati||ALG||SHERO||Toyota Prado||PT4||2,051.426|
|15||26||Mona Munshi||KSA||Rawan Abdullah||KSA||Arabian Leopard||Jeep Wrangler||PT6||2,041.649|
|16||30||Fawziah Bakhashab||KSA||Noor Bakhashab||KSA||Bakhashab Sisters||Isuzu MUX||PT4||2,027.325|
|17||11||Nada Hamzah||KSA||Zain Said||KSA||Nadzai||Dodge RAM||PT6||2,012.887|
|18||33||Ferdos Quasim||KSA||Sara Alnaseer||KSA||Spark||Toyota Fortuner||PT4||1,985.328|
|19||32||Ania Arcaini||ITA||Izabella Rekiel||AUS||AAIR||Land Rover Defender||PT6||1,984.856|
|20||20||Noela Benitez Rios||ESP||Carla Rauvidal||ESP||WILO||Toyota Land Cruiser||PT4||1,938.418|
|21||4||Fatma Banaz||KSA||Mayada Bawan||KSA||Desert Healers||Jeep Wrangler||PT6||1,936.147|
|22||15||Afnan Albediny||KSA||Fatmah Al Shamri||KSA||The Dream||Toyota RAV4||AW4||1,902.142|
|23||3||Haya Alsharif||KSA||Rozana Mouawad||KSA||Kashmaa||Lexus LX||PT8||1,831.456|
|24||8||Samar Rahbini||KSA||Wlaa Rahbini||KSA||Brave1||MG RX8||AW4||1,812.747|
|25||28||Merryhan Albaz||KSA||Farah Alyousuf||KSA||Saudi Passion||Mitsubishi L200||PT4||1,809.145|
|26||16||Marwa Khir Aldin||SYR||Naseem Binshihoun||KSA||SUMOUU Team||Jeep Compass||AW4||1,789.675|
|27||1||Nujood Zahid||KSA||Dalya Islam||KSA||Urban Bedouin||Lexus LX 570 S||PT8||1,733.867|
|28||7||Nada Hambazaza||KSA||Enas Hamzah||KSA||The Advisor||Hummer||PT6||1,709.331|
|29||5||Nour Hakim||KSA||Alaa Bakhsh||KSA||Petromin-Nissan||Nissan Patrol||AW8||1,631.102|
|30||12||Elham Alfahad||KSA||Saja Kamal||KSA||SHERO||Jeep Grand Cherokee||AW8||1,591.545|
|31||24||Amal Serafi||KSA||Amsaa Serafi||KSA||Brave2||Baic||PT4||1,348.576|
|32||35||Lujain Alsharif||KSA||Sultanah Alawishir||KSA||Hima Foq Alqima||Toyota Prado||PR||1,214.155|
|33||23||Abeer Al Saud||KSA||Nawal Almougadry||KSA||Eclectic Ride||Porsche Cayenna||AW6||744.476|
|34||2||Jalah Al Ghalib||KSA||Tahani Aljohanni||KSA||JT||Porsche Macan||AW4||–773.988|