24 Hours SeriesDakarWorld Rally-Raid Championship

Aliyyah and Yasmeen Koloc prepare off-road-heavy calendar for Dakar 2024

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Credit: Buggyra ZM Racing

Twins Aliyyah and Yasmeen Koloc had hoped to run the 2023 Dakar Rally together, but a hand injury sustained by the latter forced her to back out shortly before it was set to begin and Aliyyah raced on her own. With Yasmeen’s wrist improving, she is hoping to make her Dakar début in 2024 alongside her sister.

Yasmeen hurt her wrist in a crash while racing in the 24H Series at Spa-Francorchamps in April 2022, which sidelined her for much of the year and prompted plans like competing in the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series to be dropped. She hoped to recover in time for Dakar but was not fully ready to take part, resulting in two-time winner Josef Macháček taking over her T3 with which he finished eleventh in class.

For 2023, she intends to compete part-time in the FIA Middle East Cup for Cross-Country Bajas to ease herself back into racing form. While not entered for this weekend’s Qatar International Baja, the Cup has two more rounds including her hometown Dubai International Baja in November.

“I had to pause for a long time due to my injury, so I can’t wait to finally return to racing. This year, I will focus on off-road racing as my target remains to finally compete in the Dakar Rally,” said Yasmeen. “It wasn’t meant to be this year, so I will use this season as an additional training ground to be prepared as much as possible for the 2024 event.”

Aliyyah’s first Dakar Rally ended with a thirty-third in T3, which she improved upon at the next World Rally-Raid Championship round in Abu Dhabi when she placed third in class among points-eligible drivers. While her rally raid experience has mainly been in an SSV, notably winning the 2022 Middle East Bajas championship, she also intends to dabble in top-level T1 vehicles in 2023.

On Tuesday, she will begin testing Red-Lined REVO T1 and T1+ trucks for Thomas Bell Racing before competing in select rounds of the South African Rally-Raid Championship.

“I had a successful season last year in the FIA Middle East Cup for Cross-Country Bajas. To become overall champion in what was only my first season in the series was absolutely amazing. I am looking very much forward to going back this year and defending my title,” Aliyyah commented. “It is also a valuable learning ground for me to prepare even better for the next Dakar Rally. After my first experience at this iconic event earlier this year where I managed to fulfil my target of finishing, I’d like to come back even stronger next year and fight for higher positions.”

In the pavement racing realm, Aliyyah will also compete for the 24H Series alongside David Vršecký and Adam Lacko. With Dakar checked off her bucket list, she had told TCF in December that her “big motorsport goal” is to compete at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in the future.

As always, the Kolocs’ 2023 programme is overseen by Buggyra ZM Racing owned by their father Martin. The team had shut down their NASCAR programme before the end of the 2022 season to focus on Dakar, where they also fielded two trucks in the T5 class for Martin Šoltys (finished sixth) and Jaroslav Valtr (fifth) and one in the Dakar Classic for Radovan Kazarka (thirty-sixth overall).

“After last year, when Aliyyah and Yasmeen participated in short and endurance GT racing as well as the EuroNASCAR and off-road racing, it became clear that we needed to bundle our efforts and focus on GT endurance races,” stated Martin Koloc. “As one of our medium-term targets is to participate in Le Mans, the 24H Series, that we will run in the GT4 category this year, will be an excellent learning ground with their 6-, 12- and 24-hour races.

“Our rally raid programme is the second pillar of our commitment this year to make sure Aliyyah and Yasmeen continue to learn about off-road racing and be as prepared as possible for their most important event of the year, the Dakar Rally.”

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Justin is not an off-road racer, but he writes about it for The Checkered Flag.
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