Al-Qubaisi in the fast lane for success

Amna Al-Qubaisi wants to follow in the footsteps of her father, Khaled Al-Qubaisi, and drive her way to the top of motorsport. She will compete in Formula 4 next year. (Photo Courtesy of Amna Al-Qubaisi)
Updated 22 October 2017
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Al-Qubaisi in the fast lane for success

LONDON: Amna Al-Qubaisi does not do simple, easy challenges. The 17-year-old Emirati racer has two aims: First, become a Formula One driver; second, become a role model for females across the Middle East, illustrating there are no barriers as to what Arab women can achieve.
It is not overstating the case to say she has already driven past the first corner in realizing both those aims. This year Al-Qubaisi won the Rotax Max Challenge, the UAE’s national karting championship. That has thrust her toward Formula 4 where she will compete next year. In doing so she will become the first Arab woman to test herself at that level, a traditional stepping stone to Formula One. “Reaching Formula One would be a huge deal because not just am I going to be the first woman to represent the Arab region but also a woman that hasn’t been in Formula One in a long time,” Al-Qubaisi told Arab News.
Al-Qubaisi’s move into Formula 4 comes at a time of change for women across the region. Last month the ban on women being allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia was lifted. The move is welcome news to Al-Qubaisi, a woman forging a professional career behind the wheel.
“I’m happy that now they allow women to start driving in Saudi Arabia, It’s not just the first step it’s a really big step,” she said.
“I’m so happy that I’m driving race cars and more so, almost the reason why women are allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia and hopefully not just on the roads, but on the racetracks,” she added.
In that vein Al-Qubaisi sees herself as a role model for women across the region, the timing of her move to Formula 4 being the perfect illustration of the changing culture and attitudes around the Middle East towards women.
“I see myself as a role model but also representing women in a good way. I’m not just representing the UAE but the entire Arab world. I want to show the Arab world and foreigners that we (Arab women) are capable of doing anything. I’m very happy to be the first woman to start racing, and for an Arab woman to race nationally and internationally. It’s a big change and it’s breaking the paradigms and it’s breaking barriers and that’s what we want. We want to make a good cause and something beneficial for the Middle East,” Al-Qubaisi said.
Al-Qubaisi has been racing since she was 13, first inspired by watching, along with the rest of her family, her dad’s racing performances in the Porsche GT3 Club Challenge.
“We’d always go and support him and make posters and cheer for him and sometimes at home he’d start talking about different drivers and going around the world, seeing different tracks and from that point, I just looked at my sister and we both thought, why shouldn’t we try it?” Al-Qubaisi said.
But her dad, Khaled Al-Qubaisi, first spotted the teen sensation’s talent at the age of just five, when she went out driving old quads in the desert with him.
“He saw the talent in me, I knew where the breaks were, I knew where the gas was, and it was my first time on a Quad so dad saw it (driving talent) in me long ago,” she revealed.
But becoming a female racing driver has had its fair share of challenges. Being a girl in a male dominated sport is something Al-Qubaisi has taken in her stride, developing her skills as part of the Damon Speed Academy (DSA).
“It was a tough start, Nobody gave me any attention in the beginning and I used that as motivation. Thanks to the DSA I have improved a lot and learnt so much from every race I tackled until I started to compete with the boys and win races Eventually I won the UAE Rotax max Challenge title in my class (senior),” she said.
Al-Qubaisi ended the season with 1,071 points, way ahead of her closest challenger, Jakob Robinson. And, as that stat suggests, she has no problem taking men on around the track.
“They’re aggressive so you have to be aggressive back and if they already know that you’re fast and have the pace and you’re capable they will respect you back,” she said.
Al-Qubaisi began the hashtag #drivelikeagirl out of frustration about the stereotyping of women drivers as being slow and hesitant. After recently racing in Europe after finishing in the top five in one of her heats, and being one of the fastest on the track she was told on social media.
“People say you drive like a girl?” she replied: “Drive a little faster and you can too.”
As UAE champion, Amna will represent the country at the upcoming Rotax Max Grand Finals in Portugal in November.


India confident they can end Test series duck in Australia

Updated 19 min 57 sec ago
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India confident they can end Test series duck in Australia

  • India have never won a series Down Under, but are hopeful they can end that run.
  • Four-match series starts on Dec. 6

SYDNEY: India have warned Australia they are in confident mood ahead of the their Test series Down Under, starting in December.
The Indians have never won a series on Australian soil and hitting that stat for six is the main aim of the tour.
“It’s the one place that we want to leave our mark and do well as a unit,” India’s vice-captain Rohit Sharma said.
“The last time we played test series here — although we lost two games and we drew one game — I thought there were a few close games being played.
“We want to make it count this time around. There’s a real good feeling inside the group.”
India top the current Test rankings, while Australia have slid to No. 5 in a year overshadowed by a ball-tampering scandal in March that ended in test captain Steve Smith and vice-captain David Warner being suspended for 12 months from international and first-class cricket and opening batsman Cameron Bancroft barred for nine months.
India are No. 2 in the one-day international and Twenty20 international rankings, while five-time and defending World Cup champion Australia have slumped to No. 6 in the ODI rankings and No. 3 in T20s.
As far as Sharma and the India contingent are concerned, Australia cricket has never been more susceptible to losing at home. India have won only five Tests in Australia — three in the 1970s and early 80s — one in 2004 and one in 2008.
The four-Test series starts in Adelaide on Dec. 6 — a break with tradition from a regular first test venue at Brisbane’s Gabba ground — and will include matches in Perth, Melbourne and Sydney.
Sharma knows that going from a relatively predictable Adelaide wicket to what is expected to be a bouncy, fast pitch in Perth could be the biggest challenge of the series.
“Australia has bowlers who are very tall and extract those conditions, use them to their advantage,” Sharma said of the Perth Test. “Indian batsman generally are not that tall.
“Obviously it’s not that easy for us but, again, all the guys are quite determined to change things around this time.”
A rebuilding Australia squad is coming off back-to-back series losses to Pakistan and South Africa in the limited-overs formats, following a Test series loss to Pakistan in the UAE.
The fallout from the ball-tampering episode in March at Cape Town, when Bancroft’s awkward attempt to change the condition of the match ball by rubbing it with sandpaper, has gone way beyond Australia’s playing XI.
Coach Darren Lehmann quit at the end of that series in South Africa, and has been replaced by Justin Langer. Cricket Australia’s chairman, chief executive and high-performance manager have also quit and been replaced in a period of destabilization for the national game.