Friday, 25 January 2013

Edith Weiss


Edith Weiss in Qatar in 1997

Edith is a German driver who is based in the Middle East. She is from Bavaria, and was born in 1964.

She had a slightly unusual start to her motorsport career, beginning as a team manager in German rallying, in 1985. She began competing, as a navigator, in Germany, a year later, with Rainer Scherer. They were disqualified from the one event they did together. In 1987, she returned to team management for Peugeot, and concentrated her competitive efforts on the track, in a Peugeot 205 GTi. She drove in touring car events in Germany and Czechoslovakia.

In 1990, she combined all three strands of her motorsport career, racing the 205 in endurance events, including the Nürburgring 24 Hours, organising the Peugeot Cup and navigating for Eberhart Frech and Gerhard Merz, in another 205 and a Fiat Uno.

Edith’s navigation activities in 1991 began with sitting alongside Oliver Stollner in a Golf, for the Horber Rally in 1991. Later, she did the same for Gerhard Merz in an Opel Kadett, in the Rallye de Wallonie. However, most of this year was taken up by hillclimbs, using a Peugeot 205 GTi, and circuit racing, using the Peugeot and other cars, including a BMW and a Suzuki Swift. She drove in that year’s Nürburgring 24 Hours in the Peugeot, but did not finish.

Her first Middle Eastern rally was as a co-driver to Mohammed Kaplan, in the Qatar Rally. The car was a Toyota Celica and they were third in class. However, at this point, Edith’s focus was still on circuit racing, in a Citroen AX this year, and she managed to finish the Nürburgring 24 Hours with Dieter Steinlein and Andreas Schultes.

1993 saw her move more fully into rallying, but still as a co-driver, navigating for Gerhard Merz, Carsten Wiegand and Mathias Schütt. Only Mathias Schütt, in a Toyota Corolla, managed to finish. 1994 continued in the same vein, with trips to France and Hungary as well as Germany, alongside Carsten Wiegand, Gerhard Merz and Detlef Knöppler. This gave her a mix of decent finishes and early exits due to technical issues. A highlight was her first WRC event: the Monte Carlo Rally, alongside Monika Petzold, in a Renault Clio. They crashed out. 1995 was yet more of the same, although she sat with some new drivers and did two WRC events with Stefan Reininger, in a Clio.

After another year of navigation, Edith switched seats and moved to the Middle East in 1997. Her first rally car, as a driver, was a Nissan Sunny GTi-R. Co-driven by Vren Heierli, she entered the UAE and Jordan international rallies, retiring from both with gearbox and driveshaft problems. In the Qatar Rally, she managed her first finish, with David Twiggs on the maps. They were tenth overall, third in class. A late-season run in the Dubai Rally ended on stage three with a puncture.

She aimed to continue her MERC activities in 1998, but after entering the Oman Rally, the Sunny was lost in transit, re-appearing some months later in Abu Dhabi. After this disaster, she sat 1999 out from a competition perspective, concentrating on driving instruction and VIP events. For part of the year, she moved to Daytona. She returned to competition in 2000, with one outing in the WRC Rally of Cyprus. She did not finish.

She returned to Cyprus in the Sunny in 2001, but still could not finish, going out close to the end this time. Two of her three MERC rallies also ended in retirement: Lebanon and Syria, with an overheated engine and another bad driveshaft respectively. She could not start the Dubai Rally, due to her co-driver Jacqui Healing not having the correct license.

Her 2002 programme moved away from the Middle East, with entries in Rally Argentina and the Safari Rally. She was 22nd in the Argentine mountains in a SEAT Ibiza, winning her class and the ladies’ award. Using a Subaru Impreza, she did not finish the Safari event.

The following year, she was back to MERC rallies. She did not finish the Rally of Lebanon in a Peugeot 306.

2004 was one of Edith’s busiest years for rallying. She had acquired a Skoda Octavia, running to Formula Two specification. Her first event was meant to be the Rally of Cyprus, but administrative gremlins struck again, and her car did not reach the island in time, due to a ferry workers’ strike. The following month, she went out of the Rally of Turkey with a broken steering rack, then a dispute over whether her roll cage was FIA-approved prevented her from starting the Rally of Japan. She did not have any better luck in the MERC, retiring from the Lebanon and Dubai rallies with hydraulics and starter motor problems respectively. Even a one-off co-driving effort with Wael Murjan in the UAE led to a clutch failure.

2005 contained more of the same. Edith entered seven MERC events and finished one, the Dubai Rally, in which she was tenth. Her car was a Group N Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VIII. To be fair, the Rally of Lebanon was cancelled, and she was prevented from taking her Lancer into Qatar through Saudi Arabia, but she still retired from the Troodos, Bahrain and Oman events, with mechanical problems. Both the Lancer and the Octavia were causing problems. The WRC-counting Cyprus Rally once more gave her a better result: first in class, and first lady driver, 39th overall. Her car was a Peugeot 306.

Homologation issues reared their ugly head again in 2006, with the Octavia and its roll cage once more. This time, Edith was disqualified from the Rally of Cyprus. The engine on the Octavia could not be replaced in time for the Oman Rally, but she managed twelfth place in the Jordan Rally, in the Lancer again. The following year, the issue with the roll cage had still not been resolved, and she was disqualified from the Rally of Lebanon. Previously, the electrics on the Octavia had given up in Cyprus. This was the last year that Edith used it.

Away from the Skoda, Edith headed back to Europe for the Rally of Italy, on Sardinia. She was driving a Renault Clio, and managed third in class, 60th overall. In the Lancer, she was fifteenth in the Dubai Rally, again the first female finisher. Her other planned MERC round, the UAE Rally, was cancelled, but she entered the Ajman Rally in the UAE itself late in the season, in the Lancer, and was eighth.

Two rather troubled seasons followed, from a rally perspective. After renting a Lancer Evo VII for the 2008 Rally of Turkey, Edith was unable to start the event proper, despite finishing the recce. Her second outing, the Dubai Rally, ended in a similar manner, after a fuel leak was not fixed in time. The following year, 2009, she entered the Elpa Rally in Greece, in a Lancer Evo VII, but did not finish. Apart from these events, she took a break from stage rallying for much of this time.

During her break, she did some rally raids in a Porsche Cayenne in 2009, including the Silk Way Rally, before returning to the stages in 2010, driving a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 8 and Skoda Fabia. She drove in Portugal and Germany. In a Group N Lancer, she finished 24th in the Rally of Portugal. Her German outing, in the Fabia, was running as the 00 course car for the Rally of Germany.

During this time, she also started working as a commissar for the FIA, which is slightly ironic, given her chequered history with scrutineers and technical adjudicators.

In 2011, she stepped up her rallying activities once more. In the Acropolis, she limped to the finish in 33rd, after problems with the ECU and suspension. Her two MERC events, Dubai and Qatar, ended in retirement. Her car for all of these rallies was an Evo VIII. She also competed in some rounds of the Qatar rally championship, finishing the fourth round in eighth. She mostly drove the Evo VIII, but once tried a Subaru Impreza.

In 2012, she continued to be very busy, driving in six rounds of the Qatar Rally Championship, using an Impreza and two Lancers. She scored four top-ten finishes, with a best of third in Round Six, and was fifth in the championship. She was also 23rd in the Rally of Lebanon, and retired from the Dubai Rally, using the Evo VIII both times. In a Subaru Impreza WRX, she was ninth in the Qatar Rally.

Despite coming towards the end of her 40s, Edith continued to drive in the Qatar Rally Championship in 2013. She was second in the first round, driving an Impreza. The second and third rounds gave her two sixth places, although she only just managed to finish one, due to a broken rear axle. In between, she drove in the Qatar Rally itself, a round of the MERC, and was fourteenth, sixth in class. 

A switch to a Lancer Evo IX did not happen. Instead, Edith acquired a Nissan Patrol, and moved into rally raids again. Her biggest event was the Sealine Cross-Country Rally, in Qatar, in which she was eleventh. She later drove in five rounds of the Qatar Baja Championship, finishing fifth or sixth in each of them. 

She carried on rallying in the Qatar championship in 2014, in a Lancer Evo IX. She was third in the second round, and twelfth in the Rally of Qatar itself, which led to fourth place in the Qatar series. She also featured in the MERC again, with Vicky Psaraki as co-driver. Her best finishes were two fifteenth places, in Kuwait and Dubai. She was also 17th in Lebanon, and 25th in Cyprus. She was third in the MERC Group N standings. This was all despite her usual round of administrative troubles, including her car being sent to the wrong workshop before the Dubai Rally.

During 2014, she considered retiring, and announced that her visits to Cyprus and Lebanon would be her last, but she appears to have reconsidered this. She entered the MERC again, in the Lancer, starting with the Qatar Rally, in which she was eighth. She was eighth again in Kuwait, but was then excluded from the Shiraz Rally in Iran, due to a non-compliant seat belt in the car. A return to Cyprus was mediocre, and she was 33rd, before non-finishing in Oman and managing thirteenth in Dubai. She was tenth in the Middle East championship, and second in Group N. In between, she also contested the Qatar national rally series again, with a best finish of second. 

She did some more MERC rallies in the Lancer in 2016, although history repeated itself when the car got stuck at a Saudi border control before the Qatar International Rally. She got to the start of the Dubai Rally, but did not finish, despite finishing eighth on the first day.

In future, Edith has stated a wish to develop her work with the FIA further.

(Picture from http://www.motoringme.com/all-girl-teams-at-this-weekends-qatar-rally/)

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