Three demale funded drive teams prepare for Sealine

© DR

– Girls from Spain, Jordan, New Zealand, South Africa, France and Holland all set
– Entries for QMMF’s Sealine Rally officially close on Thursday, March 31

Three female crews have begun their countdown to the start of next month’s Sealine Cross-Country Rally, round three of the FIA Cross-Country Rally World Cup, which takes centre stage in the State of Qatar on April 16-22.


They are the six individuals who have been chosen to represent a group of ladies who took part in an international competition to find ideal candidates for funded drives on the event. They were selected after a meticulous assessment programme, held by the Qatar Motor and Motorcycle Federation (QMMF) in conjunction with FIA Women in Motorsport.

After that gruelling selection process in Qatar at the end of last year, six original candidates were chosen to compete in the Sealine event, but both Australia’s Molly Taylor and Belgium’s Lara Vanneste had to withdraw from taking their prize drives because of other contractual agreements. Taylor has secured a factory drive with Subaru Australia and Vanneste will be competing full-time in the German Rally Championship. Events in both disciplines clash with the Sealine Rally. Vanneste actually won the 2015 Cedars Rally in Lebanon alongside Roger Feghali.

New Zealand’s Emma Gilmour and Dutch co-driver Lisette Bakker will crew the first car.  Charlotte Berton was the first reserve and the French girl will now team up with Jordanian navigator Yasmeen Elmaed in the second T2 vehicle, while South African Sandra Labuscagne will now navigate for Spain’s Cristina Gutierrez Herrero in the third car.

“This is a great adventure. I love to discover new horizons in competition,” enthused Berton. “I have been working hard on my physical training to be strong enough to face the heat and inevitable difficulties in the desert. Yasmeen and I drove together during the selection last year. We both had a good feeling and I am confident in sharing the car with her.”

Labuscagne added: “My selection came as a big surprise. I am very grateful for the amazing opportunity. It’s a dream come true and a privilege to compete in the 2016 Sealine Rally. Training and preparation will be key in our success and I am looking forward to the challenge. I would like to thank the QMMF and the Commission for this opportunity.”

“The assessment programme took place before I took over in my role at the QMMF, but I am looking forward to meeting the winners and wish them a safe and successful week at the Sealine Cross-Country Rally,” said QMMF president Abdulrahman Abdulatif Al-Mannai.

“It’s a shame for Molly and Lara, but we are delighted they both have full programmes for the season, underlining the talent we saw in them,” said Michèle Mouton, President of the FIA Women in Motorsport Commission and FIA Safety Commission. “While it is an intense preparation period for Charlotte and Sandra, who we welcome to the team, we have a confirmed fitness, navigation and driver training programme organised in Qatar before the event and I am confident that everyone will take the maximum benefit from these final preparations.”

The final deadline for entries for this year’s Sealine Cross-Country Rally has been set for Thursday, March 31st. The event is also the second round of the FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship and competitive action gets underway from Losail International Circuit on Monday, April 18.

Neil Perkins,