Staphane Dupla (left) and Aliyyah Koloc at the 2023 Dakar Rally. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Dubai-born teenager Aliyyah Koloc reached the end of the Dakar Rally after a gruelling 15 days of action in Saudi Arabia, finishing 33rd in the T3 Lightweight Prototype category on her first attempt at the classic rally raid.

The 45th edition of the Dakar was one of the longest and most demanding in recent years, with over 5000 kilometres on the agenda for the crews across 14 stages. Traversing a variety of surfaces, from sand and rocks to dried-out salt lakes and mammoth dunes, Aliyyah’s first experience of the iconic rally raid was a character-building exercise.

Last stage

Competing alongside regular navigator Stéphane Duplé in the Buggyra Academy ZM Can-Am, Aliyyah – who was recently crowned FIA Middle East Cup for Cross-Country Bajas T3 champion – finished a respectable 33rd on her debut after an up-and-down event.

“Of course, it’s not the result we wanted, but it’s all experience,” said Aliyyah Koloc at the end of the rally. “Especially not being able to start the last stage due to some car problems, that’s not how we wanted to finish after such a hard two weeks, but that’s motorsport and I wouldn’t change anything.

Buggyra ZM team principal Martin Koloc said: “We have been working the whole of last year to get ready for the Dakar and we went through two and a half weeks of hardship, so it’s quite emotional at the finish!”