Camelia the trailblazer

January 5 th 2020 - 06:00 [GMT + 3]

In a country that is opening itself up to the world, Camelia Liparoti hopes to finish her twelfth Dakar while inspiring future generations.

Clad in her pink panther overalls, Camelia Liparoti is hard to miss, especially in a place where women dress in black. The extroverted Italian admits she was a bit apprehensive about leaving South America for Saudi Arabia. "A closed and mysterious country", she explains. "I already knew Dubai and Abu Dhabi, but it's true I thought long and hard before coming here. I was afraid of how people would look at me. And then, when I arrived in Jeddah, I met affable people with smiles on their faces. I found out the veil is no longer mandatory… It was a nice surprise." During technical scrutineering she even got to meet Reem Al-Aboud, a young Saudi female race car driver who hopes to enter the Dakar next year. Camelia gave her a guided tour of her Yamaha SSV. "I let her know she could ask me anything", adds the Italian. "Annett Fisher and I are the only 100% female crew in the YXZ 1000R car category this year. We'd love other girls to join us." Camelia's goal in her twelfth Dakar —the third in an SSV— is to finish the race without any overall ambitions. Her co-driver last year, Rosa Romero, was injured, forcing the Italian to recruit German Annett Fisher. "We are racing in the T3S category with a stock machine", explains the Pink Panther Power team leader. "All I hope is for Yamaha to be proud of us at the finish."

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