A brand-new door for women to race and enjoy driving in off-road conditions opened up in Saudi Arabia. This event is called Rally Jameel.
The first event was held in March from the 17-to 19, covering 900-km giving racers a chance to enjoy an event made specifically for women to race. It’s fitting and exciting that this event is held in a part of the world that has often oppressed women but now offers them more opportunities than ever. This event is an exciting one that covers unique terrain and involves many women who have a love for driving.
Where Will the Race Take Participants?
While we’re not sure if we should call this event a race or not, more on that later, the track for the event when from the city of Hail in the north-central part of the country along with various sites A-Qassim city and then to the capital of Riyadh. There are several checkpoints and challenges along the way that each team must complete before moving forward to the following location. This gives these women an excellent path through a beautiful country where they can enjoy the sites while driving the way.
This Event is Historic for Women
The oppression mentioned is changing and doing so rather quickly in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The Rally Jameel event is the first motorsport event exclusively for women who only were allowed to have driver’s licenses in 2018. This is part of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 plan, which helps offer more opportunities to women as they get used to the new freedoms and rights offed by the country. This event saw 41 women from Saudi Arabia enjoy the competition. This gave the home country the majority of the races, 68 women from 15 different countries.
Who are the Sponsors and Patrons of the Event
You might wonder where the name for the event came from. The sponsor for this event is Saudi businessman and philanthropist Hassan Mohammed Abdul Latif Jameel, and it was held under the patronage of Princess Reema bint Bandar. In addition to this incredible support, the event is recognized by the Saudi Automobile and Motorcycle Federation and the FIA Women in Motorsport Committee. Women from various walks of life participated in the Dakar-style event, but some women had never raced.
It’s Not a Speed Test, but an Event Showcasing Women
Rally Jameel was made to be an event to show women can drive and race together across rough and rugged terrain. The hope is that women around the region would become more familiar with and comfortable driving. The race was open to any entrant aged18 or older with a license accepted by Saudi Arabia. Drivers didn’t need to have a particular car to race. They required an unmodified 4×4 or AWD vehicle to handle the challenges of crossing the Middle Eastern desert.
How Was the Course Conducted
Challenge 1 Navigation
Although this event wasn’t billed as a race, it was timed and scored, making it a contest. During the event, speed is not a factor in the finishing position. A roadbook was given to each team the night before the next stage, giving directions for the transit and off-road sections of the course. Each group was required to monitor their time in each area because being late resulted in penalties.
Points were awarded for each validated waypoint, similar to the setup in a Dakar Rally. Once racers were within a specified radius of the waypoint, the rally computer opened the waypoint and offered directions to find this spot on the map. This took place when the team was within 90 meters of the point, which made up 65% of the issues during the course. Each off-road section of the class had as many as 50 waypoints for the racers to find.
Challenge 2 Maintaining Average Speed
The second challenge for the teams was to maintain an average speed over a portion of the course during navigation. This challenge required that groups maintain an average speed during some of the off-road navigation sections. Racers needed to keep this speed over a specified distance while maintaining their navigation and validating checkpoints while riding over the area’s terrain. This part of the race made up 35% of the overall course and points.
Penalties Were Assessed
Part of Rally Jameel was the penalties assessed. This happened as a factor of scoring, which included deductions for speed and mission time controls in both the transit and off-road portions of the course. The speed limit for the off-road sections was 70 kmh which is nearly 43 mph. The course allowed stock off-road vehicles instead of specially modified models.
What Were Some of the Vehicles in the Event?
Various models made the course and traveled with the racing teams from the start to the finish. Some of these vehicles include:
- Porsche Cayenne
- Porsche Macan
- Toyota RAV4
- Ford Bronco
- Jeep Wrangler
- Toyota Land Cruiser
- Toyota Hilux Fortuner SUV
Some of these are models we know and see in the United States, while some are only sold and offered in overseas markets. These vehicles were all set to cross the terrain and enjoy the drive on the harsh and rugged terrain of Saudi Arabia.
Which Teams Took Spots on the Podium?
Even though speed wasn’t a factor in scoring, teams earned placing based on points earned during the Rally Jameel. The Swedish team of Annie Seel and Mikaela Ahlin-Kottulinsky took first place in a Toyota RAV4. Both of these women are experienced racing drivers. Second, went to first-time racer Atefa Saleh of the UAE and Eleanor Coker from the United States. This team drove a Toyota Prado. The third-place team was Saudi native Maha A Hamly and Pochola Hernandez of Spain, who also operate a Toyota Prado.
Hopefully, this event will take place annually and continue to show women of the region how they can enjoy their freedoms and experience some of the activities traditionally reserved for men.
This post may contain affiliate links. Meaning a commission is given should you decide to make a purchase through these links, at no cost to you. All products shown are researched and tested to give an accurate review for you.