Buggyra Racing successfully completed a two-day test this week in the Abu Dhabi desert in preparation for the 2024 Dakar Rally. 19-year-old Aliyyah Koloc was behind the wheel of her Red-Lined REVO T1+ car to get some more experience in the highest category of off-road rallying. Martin Prokop, the experienced Czech rally driver also participated in the test, giving Aliyyah very useful advice.
The test was run over two days this week, close to the border with Saudi Arabia where the Dakar will be held again in 2024, on the same configuration as stage 2 and 4 of the 2023 Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge. On the first day, Aliyyah completed 173.5 km in the desert, on day two another 117.81 km. The test was run under real-event conditions with no stops or service during the stages.
« We have now finished the final test before the Dakar Rally, running in the Abu Dhabi desert. There were a lot of dunes, a lot of sand, so it was really tricky. It was a useful experience though as it mirrored the conditions expected for the Dakar. The car was good, we had no major issues, and the team was great, » Aliyyah explained.
Sébastien Delaunay, Aliyyah’s navigator, added: « This was the first time testing with Aliyyah in a T1+ car. The first day was quite tricky for her as she wasn’t really used to the weight of the car. She improved quickly though, learning how to use the gearbox properly, how to go with the car. We only got stuck twice in the sand, but that is quite normal and also what tests are for. We don’t expect to be at the top for the Dakar, but with a good car and that speed, it should be a good event for us. »
Aliyyah also had a lot of support from Martin Prokop. The 41-year-old Czech rally driver, who started his first World Rally Championship event in 2005, also participated in the event and completed a joint test run with Aliyyah after the end of the second day.
« I really would like to thank Martin (Prokop). He has helped me a lot, gave me very useful advice. He is such an experienced and good driver, so I am thankful to be able to learn from him, » Aliiyah said.
Martin Koloc, Buggyra’s CEO and team principal summarized the final preparation before Dakar: « The first stage was extremely difficult and I am not sure that such a challenging stage will be part of the Dakar. The test was tough, on the first day the road book was not up to date, the conditions were difficult, a lot of soft sand. The test was run in real race conditions, so it was a great preparation for the Dakar. We found a few issues with the car that we rectified, we looked at the set-up, the competitiveness, and we are quite satisfied with the result and feel prepared for our biggest event of the year. Big thanks to Martin Prokop who, thanks to his extensive experience, helped Aliyyah enourmously. We had a joint test with Martin after the finish of the second stage which was really useful. The whole team worked well together, they are already in the Dakar mindset which is great. We are really looking forward to the Dakar and will do our best to make it another successful event for the team and our crews. »
The 2024 Dakar which starts on January 5 will only be the third event for Aliyyah in a T1+ car, after the South African Parys 400 off-road rally and the Dubai Baja earlier this year. In addition, the Dubai Baja was the first time Aliyyah raced the T1+ in the desert, so the test this week was a welcome opportunity to get some more experience in the car and to get used to the desert terrain of the Dakar.