Eventful Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge for Dania Akeel

06.03.2023: Off-road season continues for female Saudi Arabian racer Driving a T3 vehicle prepared by South Racing, Akeel teamed up with German female co-driver Taye Perry on this occasion and had set some impressive stage times over four gruelling desert sele

Off-road season continues for female Saudi Arabian racer



Driving a T3 vehicle prepared by South Racing, Akeel teamed up with German female co-driver Taye Perry on this occasion and had set some impressive stage times over four gruelling desert selective sections, held in punishing heat across some of the most spectacular terrain in the United Arab Emirates.


This year’s edition of the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge had been extensively modified by the Emirates Motor Sports Organisation (EMSO), with the start and all pre-event formalities moved from the Yas Marina race circuit to the ADNOC Energy Business Centre in Abu Dhabi.


From there, the entire event moved west along the coast to Al-Dhannah City (formerly known as Al-Ruwais) for the ceremonial start and Prologue, before competitors tackled five revised selective sections in the Al-Dhafra (western region) of the UAE.

 

Dania lined up in a formidable FIA T3 field that featured several Dakar Rally front-runners and the cream of the world’s cross-country drivers.



“This is the first time for me in this race and so far, so good,” said Akeel. “The Prologue was really fun on a bit of a circuit, which I enjoyed. I am riding with Taye Perry and also in Abu Dhabi for the first time. The goal is to get to the finish line and get more experience of the dunes that I can take with me to the next rallies.”



The opening selective section of 242km had been extensively changed from previous years, including sections of sand dunes and deceptive sandy tracks, and ran from the south of Al-Dhannah City to the west of the Qasr Al-Sarab bivouac in the Rub Al-Khali.

 

The second 257km selective section started to the north of Liwa, headed southwest, skirting the Shah oilfield and the town of Hameem before heading back to Qasr Al-Sarab, with a number of valleys, tricky dune ranges and hidden dangers along the route.


The second of the three loop stages ran for 265.32km and featured a series of demanding sand dunes that were approached from the downwind angle.


While it was scheduled to be the longest of the event, foggy conditions dictated that stage four would be reduced to 173.27km and started two hours later than scheduled. By day four, Akeel had made her way to fourth in the W2RC ranking after setting the seventh-quickest time in the T3 category.


Later that evening, however, the Stewards determined that Akeel’s T3 had contravened a technical regulation concerning the air restrictor and the Saudi was disqualified from the race.



Akeel’s team representative was summoned to the Stewards to discuss the compliance of the turbocharger restrictor on her car. After hearing evidence from the team’s engineer, the Stewards determined that the vehicle was not in compliance with the 2023 International Sporting Regulations due to the air restrictor having scratches outside of the 27mm requirement.



The same restrictor had been used for the opening four stages and had been checked for compliance by the team the previous evening. Despite pleas from the team that the discrepancy was unintentional and did not aim to gain any sporting advantage, the decision was then taken to disqualify Akeel from the event.


“After a great week spent in the Empty Quarter, reaching P7 for the T3 group, we were disqualified from the race due to technical non-compliance of the car’s air restrictor,” said Akeel. “The engineers assured the FIA stewards that the error was unintentional, but that tiny scratches on it had impacted its size, which then didn’t meet the requirements.


“I’d like to thank the team for their hard work and respect the stewards’ decision as the regulations keep the game fair for all. The appropriate steps will be taken to have the car race ready. I’d also like to thank the sponsors for their trust and commitment to this season. Looking forward to the next round.”





Simon Melluish - photos D.Akeel
 

Permanent-URL: http://www.automobilsport.com/eventful-abu-dhabi-desert-challenge-dania-akeel---248255.html

06.03.2023 / MaP

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