Sunday, 1 August 2010

Female Rally Drivers in the Middle East

Nada Zaidan

Despite the conservative attitudes displayed towards women in the countries of the Middle East, a number of women have competed in motorsports there, most notably in rallying. Yasmin Alhilli, profiled elsewhere on Speedqueens, is one of the best-known, but there is a whole series of home-grown and expat female drivers in the Middle East championships.
Below are brief profiles of some of them.

Abir al-Batikhi – Syrian driver competing across the Middle East, in speed events since 1997, and rallies since 2002. She has won class prizes in the Jordanian rally series every year since 2003, normally in S1600 or Group A. She was second overall in 2003. Her best finish in a major rally is 16th, which was achieved in the 2007 Jordan Rally. She was driving a Subaru Impreza. In national-level rallies, her best finish is seventh, in the 2004 Cadres Rally in Lebanon. She has also won several ladies' awards in hillclimbs in Jordan, in an Austin-Healey Sprite. She has entered in two WRC events: the 2008 and 2009 Jordan Rally. In 2008, she  was 33rd in a Group N Impreza. In 2009, the event did not run. She was meant to enter in 2011, but does not appear on the lists. She does not seem to have rallied in 2012 or 2013, but she made a comeback in the 2014 Jordan National Rally, driving an Impreza. Unfortunately, she did not finish. Her daughter, Lina Hadidi, is now a rally driver too.

Lina Hadidi – rallied in Jordan in 2015. Her car was a Subaru Impreza. The most impressive of her results was probably a sixth place in the Jordan Rally itself, with a class win. Her best overall result was fourth, in the Jordan National Rally. 2015 was her first season in the Middle East championship. She was supported by her mother, Abir al-Batikhi, and was previously active in karting. She continued to rally an Impreza in 2016, with a best result of seventh, in the third round of the Jordanian championship.

Nancy al-Majali - Jordanian driver who has been competing in the Middle East Rally Championship for several seasons, since 2001 at least. She usually uses a Mitsubishi Lancer, although she has used a Ford Escort Cosworth on occasion. Her co-driver is Nadia Shnoudeh. Both are also multiple Jordanian ladies' hillclimb champions. Their best finish in a major event is 11th, in the 2005 UAE International Rally. Nancy switched to co-driving for the 2009 season, usually with Amjad Farrah, but returned to the driver's seat in 2010. She retired from that year's Rally du Printemps in Lebanon. In 2011, she was 22nd overall in the Jordan Rally, in an Evo IX, and ninth in the Qatar Rally. In 2012, she switched to co-driving for the Jordan Rally, and continued to navigate for Husam Salem in the 2013-2016 period.

Heiderose Mossen - German driver competing in the Middle East. She was eighth in the 2004 Qatar Rally, driving a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 3. She is said to be a resident of Qatar.

Ruth Paterson - navigated in rallies in the Middle East for several years before taking the wheel herself in 2003 in Dubai, driving a Volkswagen Golf. As a co-driver, she has competed in the UK, Kenya, Barbados and Peru, as well as the Middle East, usually alongside her husband, Howard Paterson.

Zohreh Vatankhah – Iranian driver who rallied in Turkey in 2008. Driving a Ford Ka, she was 28th in the Istanbul Rally, and won class A5. She recorded another class win in the WRC Rally of Turkey, in a Fiesta, and was 37th overall. In 2006, she drove in some rallies in Iran, and in 2007, she competed in the Tehran Rally. She may also have won a circuit racing championship in Iran at some point.

Nada Zaidan (pictured) - started rallying in the Middle East in 2004, coming ninth in the Qatar Rally. She did three more events in 2004 and 2005, finishing two, in a Mitsubishi Lancer. She was 16th in both the Dubai and Qatar Rallies. She also represents her country, Qatar, at archery. In 2010, she made a rally comeback, and was 27th in the Jordan Rally, driving a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX. After another break, she entered rallies in the Middle East and Cyprus in 2014, driving a Subaru Impreza. Her best finish was fifth, in a Qatar National Rally. Her best international finish was 16th, in Kuwait.

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