2022 Qatar International Baja: Dakar Sistaz ready for another off-road rally
After victories in her category in Saudi Arabia and Jordan, Aliyyah Koloc targets a hat-trick at this weekend‘s Qatar event while Yasmeen Koloc aims for a podium.
After a successful Baja Jordan for the Koloc sisters last month where Aliyyah took the win in her category for the second time running and Yasmeen became the heroine of the race as a result of her ultimately successful battle with the elements, the 17-year-old twins will compete at the Qatar International Baja this weekend from 24-26 March. The rally will be part of the FIM Bajas World Cup and the FIA Middle East Cup.
This will be the first time the Buggyra ZM Racing team will be experiencing the conditions of the Qatar desert after Saudi Arabia and Jordan. "I don't know anything except that Qatar is one big flat desert, the altitude doesn't exceed 100 meters, and it is crisscrossed with roads and highways. The organization of the event will certainly be of a high standard too, as F1 races are held on the same circuit, where the bivouac of the rally will be. And there is a good chance that, unlike in Jordan, it will not rain," says David Vršecký, who is the team’s chief technical officer and mentor of the two girls.
Unchanged winning line-ups
Buggyra ZM Racing will enter the Qatar International Baja with the same line-up as in Jordan. Aliyyah’s codriver will be Sebastien Delauney, while Yasmeen will rely on the navigational skills of Stéphane Duple. "Aliyyah is targeting her third consecutive win after Saudi Arabia and Jordan and Yasmeen’s aim is a podium finish. Considering she finished fourth in her category in Jordan despite battling the elements, these are realistic targets. On the other hand, we don't know what the competition will be like. There could be several potential successors to Nasser Al Attiyah who will want to prove themselves at home and know the environment," says team principal Martin Koloc.
„Together with my sister, we have had an extensive training program over the winter months, both in the car and the gym. We have a big season ahead and particularly the off-road rallies require a lot of physical stamina in addition to good driving skills. I am aiming for a win in my category to complete a hat-trick after Saudi Arabia in December and Jordan last month,“ explains Aliyyah. Her sister Yasmeen adds: "After the struggles I had at the last off-road event in Jordan, I have tried to prepare even more for Qatar by training in a simulator. I have even had some lessons in car mechanics! It's true that every problem overcome makes you stronger and I don't have a problem with adrenaline, but if Qatar could be a little more straightforward, that wouldn’t be a bad thing."
Since the last rally in Jordan, the team has been working extensively on both Can-Am prototypes, the cars that the girls will be driving in Qatar. "Aliyyah’s car underwent regular maintenance and light adjustments while the front axle on Yasmeen’s prototype had to be replaced after breaking down in Jordan. Fortunately, after three years working with Can-Ams, we have accumulated a lot of experience when it comes to maintenance and repairs," explains David Vršecký. "As I said before, the stages should be smoother than in Jordan. The rally runs over a total of 764 kilometers, of which 457 kilometers are timed, 80% will be run on gravel and dirt roads, 5% in the open desert, and 15% on dunes. So it shouldn't be too difficult, but you never know."