The Hyundai Santa Cruz is going racing. Later this year, Hyundai is handing over the truck’s keys to two auto journalists who will compete in the seventh annual Rebelle Rally, an all-women, off-road navigational challenge. This year’s event kicks off on October 6.
This is Hyundai’s first time supporting the eight-day, 1,500-mile event. Racers will start in a still undisclosed location in Nevada before traversing miles of desert to the finish line in Southern California’s Imperial Sand Dunes. Automotive writers Jill Ciminillo and Kristin Shaw will pilot the pickup, and this is their first attempt at the Rally.
The Rebelle Rally isn’t a contest of speed. It’s a navigational challenge that is all about direction, hidden checkpoints, and time, with competitors using maps and a compass for direction. They’re not allowed to use cellphones or GPS, and race organizers collect cellphones at the start of the event to protect against potential cheaters.
To prepare, Ciminillo and Shaw will complete a two-day navigation school and a two-day off-road driving school. The schools will give the pair a crash course in off-road driving and recovery basics. They’ll learn how to troubleshoot any issues with the truck, read and interpret maps, plan routes, and plot longitude and latitude.
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They will pilot a brand-new Santa Cruz pickup truck, which comes from the factory with a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder paired to an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic. All-wheel drive is standard on every Santa Cruz. The pickup offers 8.6 inches of ground clearance, and Hyundai added a skid plate and off-road tires for extra protection during desert driving.
“We are incredibly proud to be sponsoring our first Hyundai team in the Rebelle Rally,” said Dana White, chief communications officer, Hyundai Motor North America. “We are thrilled to be partnering with Jill and Kristin on this adventure and can’t wait to see them in action in the Santa Cruz.”
The Rebel Rally has become an event for automakers to show off their newest vehicles. Ford took the Bronco Sport there in 2020 and won the X-Cross class, the same class that the Santa Cruz will compete in this year.