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17 September 2015 05:20 am

Cross country women heading to the desert

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Selection panel nominates 18 women to participate in the joint FIA Women in Motorsport and Qatar Motor & Motorcycling Federation cross country rally project
 
Following receipt of 85 applications from 39 countries for the joint FIA Women in Motorsport and Qatar Motor and Motorcycle Federation (QMMF) cross  country rally project, the selection committee has now chosen 18 drivers
and co-drivers to participate in the final process. These women will take part in a five-day training and assessment programme in Qatar, where one driver and one co-driver will ultimately be chosen to team up and participate in the 2016 Sealine Cross Country Rally, courtesy of QMMF.
 
The women chosen to participate, including two wildcard candidates from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, are:
 
Drivers:
  • Charlotte Berton, France
  • Jonna Lisa Eson Bradhe, Sweden
  • Emma Gilmour, New Zealand
  • Cristina Gutiérrez Herrero, Spain
  • Klaudia Podkalicka, Poland
  • Melanie Schulz, Germany
  • Yara Shalaby, Egypt
  • Molly Taylor, Australia
  • Sara Williams, United Kingdom
 
Co-drivers:
  • Lisette Bakker, Netherlands
  • Tania Cardoso Sequeira, Portugal
  • Yasmeen Elmajed, Jordan
  • Veronica Engan, Norway
  • Rhianon Gelsomino, Australia
  • Sandra Labuscagne, South Africa
  • Jasmeen Singh Bhandhair, Zambia
  • Natalie Solbach-Schmidt, Germany
  • Lara Vanneste, Belgium
 
“We were impressed by the calibre of applicants, which made this initial
selection process very difficult,” said Michèle Mouton, President of the
FIA Women in Motorsport Commission, who was joined on the assessment
committee by Jutta Kleinschmidt and Fabrizia Pons. “Our ASNs really got
behind this project and it has demonstrated there are a lot of women out
there who want to come and try a different discipline. Our great thanks to
QMMF President Nasser Al-Attiyah for supporting this project and giving
women this opportunity.
 
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For those applicants who weren’t successful on
this occasion, I urge them to continue following their dream and never give
up. For the others we will meet in Qatar, this is where the adventure
starts!”
 
The training camp in the desert, which takes place between 2-7 November,
will be led by two of the sport’s finest women competitors: Jutta
Kleinschmidt, the first and only woman to win the legendary Dakar Rally,
and multiple rally and cross country winning co-driver Fabrizia Pons. Both
will guide the candidates through an intense training and development
programme encompassing all the essential techniques required for this
spectacular motor sport discipline.
 
“The desert training will be tough, but it has to be because this is the
nature of the sport,” added Kleinschmidt. “For a lot of the time during
an event the crew is on its own and they need to be resourceful, determined
and focused, often in extreme conditions and temperatures. We need to see
these attributes, and more, because cross country rallying is so much more
than just driving. Naturally I really hope we can find a driver and
co-driver with the potential, longer term, to really challenge the leading
crews in the FIA World Cup for Cross Country Rallies.”