Ngannou, Joshua prepare for Friday’s face-off in front of Riyadh Season fans

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Jeddah - Yasmine El Tohamy - ALULA: Saudi rally driver Dania Akeel and her co-driver Syndiely Wade from Senegal won the opening stage of the Rally Jameel 2024 on Wednesday to lead the race in AlUla.

The Dania Akeel team collected 1149.581 points to beat last year’s title holder, the Sandstorm Express team from the Netherlands.

After finishing in third place for the Challenger class W2RC podium in Abu Dhabi, Akeel expressed her happiness at winning first place at Rally Jameel. “It was a good start and we enjoyed the competition with those leading female drivers and we are looking forward to the next stages,” she said.

Dania Akeel at the finish line in AlUla. (SUPPLIED)

In the early hours of Thursday, Akeel and Wade set off first from the starting line in AlUla, heading to the next stage at Umluj.

The Sandstorm Express team, comprised of driver Ewelina Chlebowska of Poland and co-driver Hanna Riehle of Germany, gained 1148.304 points in the first stage.

Speaking after reached the final point in AlUla, Chlebowska said: “It has a been a great challenge and we feel very confident to repeat our victory this year. We will keep going for the next stages and hope we continue our momentum to lead the race.”

(SUPPLIED)

Saudi Arabia’s rising rally racing driver, Maha Al-Hamali, and her co-driver Eleanor Coker of the US, completed the stage in third place and gained 1147.497 points.

Al-Hamali said that she was looking forward to gaining more points: “We ended the first stage and we are happy but hope for the best. We enjoyed our race and it was so interesting to see the spectacular sights on our way from Hail to AlUla. We really appreciate Rally Jameel offering us this opportunity to compete with those national, regional and international female drivers.”

(SUPPLIED)

Members of the Saudi Rally Docs team, co-driver Dr. Alaa Alzahrani and driver Sarah Alhumoud, who are competing in Rally Jameel for the second year in a row, said that it was a demanding race but also a rewarding experience.

“Yes, it was challenging stage but we enjoyed it. The difficulties were the sands and stones we faced on the road but I have a good driver,” Alhumoud said.

Alzahrani, an assistant professor at King Abdulaziz University and an immunology researcher, said that the team also competed to achieve another goal. “We have an awareness campaign to deliver; we as a team in cooperation with the Saudi Center for Organ Transplantation campaign to promote public awareness about organ donation and transplantation,” she said.

Rally Jameel 2024, held under the slogan “She Shifts the World,” will continue from AlUla to Umluj, to Yanbu, and ends on March 8 at King Abdullah Economic City for the final ceremony with the participation of 55 teams from 37 countries.

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