SA MOTORSPORT AMBASSADOR: Cross-country Special Vehicle driver Sandra Labuscagne has been chosen for an FIA women's project. Image: Keino & Belinda Snaps Photography
Cape Town - South African Sandra Labuscagne has been chosen to join a prestige cross country rally initiative run by the FIA Women in Motorsport Commission and the Qatar Motor and Motorcycling Federation.
A selection panel has nominated nine drivers and nine co-drivers to take part in a five-day training and assessment programme in Doha, Qatar from November 2 to 7.
One driver and one co-driver will then be chosen to team up to compete, courtesy of the Qatar Motor and Motorcycling Federation (QMMF), in the 2016 Sealine Cross Country Rally.
'Delighted for her'
The highly experienced Sandra has been competing in the Donaldson Cross Country Championship for a number of years, and was one of 85 applicants from 39 countries. She and her father, Coetzee, are currently fifth overall in the Special Vehicle category in the national series and race for CSL Racing.
Sanora chief executive officer Richard Schilling: “Sandra’s selection is fully deserved, and we are delighted for her. It is also a massive boost for the Donaldson Cross Country Championship and for all women competitors in South African motorsport.
“There is no doubt Sandra will be a great ambassador for South African motorsport and cross country racing.”
Rally legend Michele Mouton, president of the FIA Women in Motorsport Commission, said: “We were impressed by the calibre of the applicants. It made the initial selection process very difficult.”
Mouton was joined on the selection panel by Jutta Kleinschmidt and Fabrizia Pons. Kleinschmidt is the only woman to have won the iconic Dakar Rally, while Pons has a string of rally and cross-country successes to her name as a co-driver.
Opportunity for female drivers
Mouton added: ‘National sporting authorities affiliated to the FIA truly got behind this project. We also owe a vote of thanks to Qatar federation president Nasser Al-Attiyah for his support, and for giving women from around the world the opportunity to take part in the project.
“For those who did not make it through the selection process I urge them to continue following their dream and never give up. For the others we will meet in Qatar, and that is where the adventure starts.”
The training camp in the desert will be led by Kleinschmidt and Pons. They will guide the candidates through an intense training and development programme that encompasses all the essential techniques required for cross country racing.
Kleinschmidt said: “The desert training will be tough, but it has to be because this is the nature of the sport. For much of the time during an event a crew is on their own, and they need to be resourceful, determined and focused often in extreme conditions and temperatures.