With El Gouna Rally Race right around the corner, we sat down for a chat with the man behind the action, Ahmed Sergany, who's been exploring deserts ever since he could drive.
People go on and on about the beauty of nature, and how exploration is this wondrous essential element of humanity - to see all that can be seen and do all that can be done in this life. But how much do we really know and how much have we really experienced? How many of us can say we have explored and experience the true beauty the desert has to offer, for example? We live in a country made up of so many deserts, yet somehow many of us have not ventured into that monumental element of our country. Well, some of us have. Ahmed Sergany might as well be the Egyptian version of Lawrence of Arabia; one of the fathers of desert rally racing in the country, he's been in the business for more than a quarter of a century. He's also the guy behind the upcoming Gouna Rally Race.
As an 18-year-old, proud of his freshly obtained driver’s license, Sergany decided that his wheels don’t belong on the pavement. He yearned for the sand and he knew that was where he belonged. Joining some of desert rally's biggest names at the time, such as Azam Farouky, he started to jump into the shotgun seat to learn from the best, eventually becoming the best behind the wheel himself. Starting off his career at The Rally of the Pharaohs, he acknowledged the immense difficulty and danger of the sport, but pushed passionately forward. “We would start at the pyramids and venture through the desert for 3,000 km over six days – a great challenge through such a complex and beautiful terrain,” he recalls. Abdelhamid Abo Yossef, one of the oldest people in rally racing, came along by 2009 to initiate the first 100 percent Egyptian rally championship. By that time, Sergany was one of the many Egyptians who'd developed a passion for the sport, and was excited to be part of something he felt belonged to the Egyptians. From that point onward, he felt the need to be one of the main people in charge of supporting the organisation of this very complex yet amazing sport.
With five years of structured and precise work by Sergany and his team, El Gouna Rally Race came to life, having grown from a sport that involved less than 10 Egyptian drivers to a sport that currently manages 25 teams of cars and bikes with a convoy of more than 170 people. “I am proud that we have become capable enough to host and manage such large events, encouraging such a large number of people to join; but what I'm truly proud of is the diversity we have fostered,” Sergany says.This year’s race involves more girls than one would have expected, crushing the stereotype that girls can’t drive. The Gazelle Team is comprised entirely of girls – mechanics, technicians, drivers, co-pilots, assistants, and managers. Other teams are crushing down on another stereotype: that wives can’t guide their husbands through driving without a fight. Two different teams have married couples as the driver and co-pilot; one team has the wife as the driver and the other has the husband as the driver. Isn’t that just freaking awesome?
“The caliber that the world of rally racing has reached was once just a dream; we are proud to have made this dream come true,” Sergany says. El Gouna Rally Race is the product of the efforts and dreams of more than 60 people, led by Ahmed Sergany himself. Even though entertainment and quality are one of their top priorities, nothing is more important than the safety procedures he personally over sees. With a race indoors and a race outdoors, going to this event truly is a once in a lifetime experience that shouldn’t be missed. El Gouna Rally Race starts April 15th with a parade followed by the first race at 1:30 PM, with the next day seeing the next two heats starting at 8 AM with nonstop action until 5 PM, followed by the prize ceremony.