MERC Nada Zaidan heads strong female challenge in Dubai Rally

2004 Dubai International Rally
FIA Middle East Rally Championship, round 8 of 8

For immediate release
Wednesday, November 24th, 2004


38 teams to take part in Dubai Rally;
Germany's Edith Weiss to drive Skoda

DUBAI (UAE): Qatar's Nada Zaidan will head a strong female presence in the Dubai International Rally, the final round of the FIA Middle East Rally Championship, which will take place under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al-Maktoum, President of the Dubai Civil Aviation Department, on December 1st-3rd.

Nada made her rallying debut in February's Qatar International Rally and finished a highly-creditable ninth overall with Jordanian co-driver Nadia Shnoudeh at the wheel of a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution. She has become a regular face in the regional series and took part in both May's Jordan event and the Syria Rally in September.

~It was a great thrill for me to take part in my first rally in Qatar and to finish the event,~ said Nada. ~I have gained some experience since then and am looking forward to my first visit to the Dubai Rally.~ The Qatari will drive a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution 6.

She faces competition in the 14 timed special stages from Germany's well-travelled Edith Weiss. An insurance broker from Rosenheim in Germany, Weiss has been taking part in motorsport since 1985 and claims to have competed in over 300 events in Europe, the Middle East and the World Rally Championship. One of Edith's best results was a first in the A7 class with a Seat Ibiza at the 2002 Rally of Argentina.

She began this season with a Damas-backed Skoda Octavia Kit Car and took part in three rounds of the FIA world series in Cyprus, Turkey and Japan, in addition to the Rally of Lebanon in July. ~This will be my first time taking part at the Dubai Rally,~ said Edith. ~I now have a team of Skoda mechanics from the Czech Republic and they wll provide technical support for me. My car is two-wheel drive and not able to match the pace of the front-running Group N cars, but I am ready for a good fight and would like to finish as the top lady.

~My first Middle East rally was in Qatar in 1992, but before that I raced Formula Ford 2000 in 1990 and won the Hockenheim-Divinol Cup with a BMW M3 in 1991.~

While Nada and Edith will fight for the privilege of being the leading female driver, Howard Paterson will be relying on his wife Ruth to ensure that he doesn't get lost on the road liaison sections. She will act as his trusty co-driver in this swansong event for the Volkswagen Golf GTi.

A second female co-driver making her first appearance in the Dubai Rally is the Austrian Elizabeth Wittmann. She will compete with the Austrian veteran Rudi Stohl in the OMV Rally Team Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution 7.

~Nada was one of the first local ladies to take part in rallies and she has opened up a path for others to follow ,~ said Mohammed Juma Bin Bakheet, President of the Organising Committee. ~Female drivers have achieved remarkable success in the past on various major car rallies and maybe this is a trend which is set to expand in the future.~

Four of the most famous female rally drivers have put many of their male colleagues to shame. Germany's Jutta Kleinschmidt entered the history books by winning the 2001 Dakar Rally in a works Mitsubishi and Andrea Mayer was fifth overall with the same team last January.

Two of the most successful female special stage rally drivers were French lady Michele Mouton - a former winner of WRC rallies - and Britain's Louise Aitken-Walker, who made headlines in Europe for her giant-killing acts in a range of two-wheel drive Peugeots and Vauxhalls, which culminated in her winning the FIA World Two-Litre Championship in the early 1990s.

Next week's event is again based at the Al Bustan Rotana Hotel in Dubai. Additional support for the ATC of the UAE - the event organisers - comes from GTS Recovery, the Gulf Commercial Group, Space Imaging Middle East, Sky Electronics and AMD.


For further media information:
Neil Perkins, Dubai International Rally Press Officer, NDP Publicity Services, Tel: Dubai mobile + (971 50) 3616881, UK mobile + 44 7831 123153 and e-mail: ndppublicity@compuserve.com.
www.ndp-publicity.com (press releases)
Atala Abousaleh, Dubai International Rally, Arabic Press Officer, Dubai mobile: + (971 50) 6469853, e-mail: wisam_mm@emirates.net.ae

Date issued: 24/11/2004

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