With the last, twelfth stage of the Dakar Rally yesterday, Aliyyah Koloc completed her debut in the top Ultimate class. The Buggyra ZM Racing driver finished the event in 25th place, despite technical problems in the opening stages. What is even more remarkable, however, is that the 19-year-old driver finished 12th in the W2RC World Rally-Raid Championship, of which the Dakar Rally is the opening round. She also beat Dakar winner Stéphane Peterhansel and other factory stars like Seth Quintero and Mattias Ekström.
Aliyyah Koloc was beaming with joy at the finish line but did not hide her emotion either. “You know, I’m very happy because we made it to the finish line. Despite the fatigue, I feel relieved and proud. These two weeks were like a roller coaster, but we managed everything together as a team. I’m proud of us. We will continue to improve step by step,” Aliyyah said at the finish.
Shortly before the start of the Dakar, she changed her navigator. As the course of the Dakar showed, it was a step in the right direction, as she and Sébastien Delaunay made a good pair.
“Seb is a really good co-driver; he has a lot of experience. He was very patient with me. I’m grateful to him because I had moments when I was very frustrated, but he managed with me. We are a good team. He’s also very resourceful. For example, he figured out how to change a tire when the jack didn‘t work. He knows a lot about racing and technique and he taught me a lot. But this is just the beginning,” Aliyyah continued. “It was a very fast stage. The last part was by the sea, so it was very beautiful.”
Co-driver Sébastien Delaunay admitted that he had just completed the hardest Dakar he had ever done. “It was very hard almost every day, but we did it and the result is very good. Aliyyah kept improving. I don’t want to say our Dakar was perfect, but almost. I am very happy with the final result,” Sébastian said. Her co-driver had a lot of praise for Aliyyah. “She never stopped, she never gave up. That’s a great thing because we have had a really tough Dakar. It wasn’t fun; she was plagued by fatigue. We were swallowing dust, we were shaking on the rocks, but we always kept going. We never gave up, and Aliyyah kept accelerating. We’ll see how we do for the rest of the season, but I believe even better results will come soon,” Sébastien concluded.