Drivers ready to ‘give it everything’ as Hail International Rally returns

Jenson Button’s JBXE have announced Saudi Arabia’s Dania Akeel as part of the team’s lineup for the 2024 Extreme E season.

Andreas Bakkerud returns for his second campaign with JBXE and will be partnered with Akeel, who will make her debut at her home event, the Desert X Prix on Feb. 17-18.

The duo boast plenty of off-road experience and will look to spearhead JBXE’s charge up the leaderboard in 2024.

“I’m very excited to join the fun that I’ve been witnessing at Extreme E since it started,” said Akeel. “Sport is the perfect medium for both work and play, and I’m looking forward to what I’ll learn in this type of racing. Being home for the first round will have its comforts, and I couldn’t ask for a nicer start.

“Thank you to the JBXE team for this opportunity; working with Jenson is a true privilege given his incredible career, and I aim to deliver my absolute best for us all. Wishing everyone a great season!”

Akeel’s new colleague Bakkerud commented: “I’m thrilled to be back with JBXE for 2024. It is great to be a part of this championship and I can’t wait for the new season. This will be my first time racing in the sand. Last year, I got to be ringside watching the epic scenery of the race in NEOM, and now I’m just pumped getting to race it.

“Welcoming Dania as a teammate is an exciting prospect. Her rise through the motorsport ranks has been monumental and I’m optimistic about what can happen when we head to Saudi Arabia for the opening rounds of the campaign.”

JBXE team owner Button said he was “delighted” to have Akeel and Bakkerud on his team.

“Andreas’ experience with the team gives us a great platform to achieve positive results this season, while Dania has demonstrated her off-road capabilities in other categories and that will give us plenty of experience for the season ahead,” said Button. “I’m confident we can hit the ground running at the Desert X Prix, especially in Dania’s home event, and we are really looking forward to the new season.”

Bakkerud joined JBXE ahead of the Hydro X Prix last term after a brief stint as a championship driver and has secured two top-five finishes from his eight races to date. The Norwegian will be eager to make a maiden visit to an Extreme E podium, having achieved a wealth of success in other categories including the FIA World Rallycross Championship and Nitro Rallycross.

Bakkerud fought fellow Extreme E star Timmy Hansen for the World Rallycross title in 2019, with the pair’s duel going right the way down to the wire. After colliding in a dramatic finale in Cape Town, they ended up tied on points, but Bakkerud was beaten to the championship by Hansen on countback.

This will be Akeel’s maiden Extreme E season. She was the first Saudi female to obtain a license for motorcycle circuit racing, contesting the Ducati Cup in the UAE National Sportsbike Superseries 2019-20 season. In her first season, her impact was so great she was named the Rookie of the Year.  

Akeel then switched to cars in 2021, competing in the T3 category for South Racing Can-Am in the Dakar Rally and finishing a credible eighth. 

Akeel returned to Dakar in 2023 alongside a campaign in the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Bajas and Saudi Toyota Rally Championship’s T3 category. Achieving multiple podiums in class across the year, she finished runner-up in class in the Saudi Toyota Rally Championship’s T3 category and third in the Bajas World Cup Championship T3 category, in only her second full year of racing.

This tenacity and ability to adapt quickly to different categories ensures Akeel will undoubtedly be one to watch in Extreme E Season 4. 

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