German female rally driver Weiss breaking barriers
DOHA: During last month’s Kuwait International Rally, Edith Weiss was the only female driver competing against a top field of 22 starters that included two-time Dakar Rally champion Nasser bin Saleh Al Attiyah of Qatar.
After three days of battling dusty terrain, Weiss finished in respectable eighth position overall and second in group N under the flag of Qatar as rally giant Al Attiyah grabbed his fifth win at the 13-stage Kuwait International Rally
“Kuwait has very nice, fast stages, which are not as rough as those we experienced in Qatar and there is less risk of collecting flat tyres or damaging the car,” Weiss said.
“I started again with my co- driver Vicky Psaraki from Greece, with my Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX under the flag of Qatar,” she recalled.
“On the second day, I lost my exhaust in the 1st stage and could fix it back by myself with an old, rusted metal hanger which I found in the desert. It worked until we reached the next service,” said the German driver.
“Furthermore, I got a 10-minute penalty on the second day then I was driving like a maniac to the finish. Unfortunately, with this time penalty I couldn’t reach the first position which I could do easily. That was my second attempt at the Kuwait Rally,” said added.
“Last year, I really enjoyed the rally and finished 14th overall, third in Group N and won the prize for being the first lady.”
Weiss added: “Thanks to His Excellency Sheikh Athbi Nayef Jaber Al Ahmad Al Sabah, Chairman of Kuwait International AutoImobile Club, who invited me to participate at the Kuwait Intl Rally. I really enjoyed it and I will be back next year again, inshallah.”
In February, Weiss started the rally season brightly by finishing a great eighth overall position and third in the Group N at the Qatar International Rally, first round of the 2015 Middle East Rally Championship.
She started this year with the support of Qatar Motor and Motorcycle Federation (QMMF).
“A very big thank you to the President of QMMF, Nasser bin Khalifa Al Attiyah. He was so kind to support me with entry fees for free and rally service during the rally which was a great help for me,” Weiss said.
“Qatar has one of the most demanding gravel surface rallies in the world and I always look forward to participate at Qatar International Rally,” she said.
“I love the stages and the whole event which is always professionally organised through QMMF, under President Nasser bin Khalifa Al Attiyah, who is also the FIA and FIM Vice-President. I want to thank him once again,” she said.
“It’s always been a great pleasure to be in Qatar. I congratulate QMMF for their fantastic rally events and the way they promote the sport in the country and in the region,” Weiss said.
In the 2014 season, Weiss finished with an impressive result at the Middle East Rally Championship. She finished third overall in Group N category and won the Ladies Cup. She is the only woman who achieved a top three position in the Group N category at any round of the MERC ever.
“It was a great honour for me to achieve good results for Qatar and hope to continue a successful way in the future,” the driver said.
“I could be much better but without sponsorship or a right strong partner behind you, it’s not possible to compete on a professional level,” Weiss said.
“I really wish the day is coming to get a chance to start with a top rally car in a professional rally team,” she added
Away from her programme of events in the Middle East, Weiss also started at 17 World Rally Championship events yet and became only woman ever to win first position twice in her group A in Argentina and Cyprus.
The German is an avid supporter of rallying in the Gulf region, especially in Qatar.
“I love driving. I have been doing it for many years. For me the thrill of the sport is in participating in rallies around the region in a sport dominated by men,” Weiss said.
Qatar and Weiss have a long history in motorsport. Her first rally event in Qatar was 1992 and since this time she has continued the rallies in the Middle East.
Weiss’ next event is Qatar Sealine Rally, FIA World Cross Country Rally set to be held from April 18 to 24, almost her third start with a Nissan Patrol T2 along side Sheikh Hamad bin Eid Al Thani and her next round will be in Iran from May 4 to 6 in the MERC.