The six young women selected by the Qatar Motor and Motorcycle Federation and the FIA Women in Motorsport Commission to contest the Sealine Cross Country Rally have reached the end of their incredible adventure in the deserts of the State of Qatar.
In their first-ever foray into the spectacular world of cross country rallying, the three all-female crews battled against some of the toughest terrain the FIA World Cup for Cross Country Rallies has to offer. hroughout the five-day event, which covered 1,633.38 competitive kilometres over five punishing selective sections, they had to overcome mechanical problems, challenging navigation, punctures and the inevitable frustration of getting stuck in the dunes, a situation which requires strength, stamina and an exacting technique to free the car from soft and forever shifting sand. And all in the searing heat of the vast and lonely desert.
Top results were never the aim of the game, or expected from the crews; both QMMF and the FIA Women in Motorsport Commission were focused on providing an incredible opportunity for young women to try a new discipline and demonstrate that dreams in all forms, and areas, of motorsport are possible for any young woman determined to give it a go.
Even so, Nissan Patrol #246 piloted by Spaniard Cristina Gutierrez and South Africa’s Sandra Labuscagne was classified at the end of the Sealine Cross Country Rally, the rookies 24th overall and faring the best of the three crews. They ran well on the opening day, despite getting stuck in the dunes, but then suffered an engine problem in the second selective section, forcing them out for the day. A broken front differential lost them more time but they persevered to the end and were delighted to reach Losail and the finish of one of the toughest challenges of their lives.
Cristina Gutierrez: “In cross country there are many kilometres, you have to learn to get out of the difficulties encountered, and you have to know how to control your nerves and learn to keep a steady pace for many hours. But challenges are always opportunities for learning, and especially as we are here for the great opportunity we have been given. I will continue in this speciality because I feel very identified with everything that surrounds this world, and hopefully I will continue to find support from it to continue growing as a driver. Of course I want to make a special mention of Sandra, my co-driver, who did a brilliant job getting me to the end of the stage every day.