Dania Akeel will complete her maiden FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Bajas campaign this weekend as the female star contests the 2021 Italian Baja (9-11 September).
Akeel has enjoyed a stellar season so far and now the Saudi Arabia driver has the T3 class title firmly in her sights.
The 32-year-old took victories in her homeland Saudi Arabia and Jordan, before claiming a double podium in Hungary and Poland respectively – her first ever competitive outings on European soil – and is set to close out her breakthrough season with the super-fast baja in Italy.
The 2021 Italian Baja, which includes a 362km special stage, will comprise three days of high-class competition on the shores of the rivers Meduna, Cosa and Tagliamento, although the event has undergone a welcomed reduction in water crossings as part of a new layout.
Competitors from 21 nations and three continents will take on the challenge, with Akeel going for glory in the five-car entry T3 class, which qualifies for the FIA European Cup for Cross-Country Bajas as well as the World Cup.
Akeel holds a commanding lead in the World Cup T3 standings – more than 50 points clear of nearest challenger Santi Navarro – and hopes to wrap up the title this weekend as she races a RM Sport prototype – alongside Frenchman co-driver Stéphane Duple.
Having already become the first Saudi female to participate in an international rally event earlier this year, Akeel is on the verge of completing her maiden season of competition, before targeting entry into the world-famous Dakar Rally next year.
Dania Akeel said: “I can’t believe we’re preparing for our final event of the season. It has gone so fast, but it has been such an exhilarating experience and a year that I’ll never forget.
“We have had some great results along the way, but I have been most pleased with our level of consistency and steady improvement during what is my first full season at this level of competition.
“I have heard a lot of great things about the Italian Baja and it seems that the organisers have also listened to feedback from competitors in terms of the layout changes and reduced water crossings. It should be a fantastic occasion and one that I am looking forward to very much.
“Of course, we have a title to win too, so bringing the car home in one piece remains the ultimate goal, and I am delighted to be taking on this challenge alongside my co-driver Stéphane Duple.
“I am sure we will have time to reflect and celebrate our achievements once the event is finished, but for now we are fully focussed on the job that we have in front of us.”