November 20, 2018 / 7:31 PM / a month ago

Seven women drivers signed up for Formula E's Saudi test

LONDON (Reuters) - At least seven female racing drivers will take part in a Formula E test in Saudi Arabia after the country hosts the season-opening race next month, the all-electric series said on Tuesday.

The test, involving all the teams, will be a day after the Dec. 15 race on the streets of Ad Diriyah, near Riyadh.

Saudi Arabia lifted a ban on women drivers last June and organisers said the local promoter had wanted female participation at the test.

The race, starting season five, will be the first involving Formula E’s ‘next generation’ cars and marks the series’ debut in the Middle East.

The women racers confirmed for the test include Amna al Qubaisi of the United Arab Emirates, who started karting at 13 and has competed internationally in Formula Four.

Her father Khaled was the first Emirati to compete in the Le Mans 24 Hours race.

“I’m very proud to be representing women in general and Arabian women in particular. This test drive is another stepping-stone towards my dream of a professional career in motorsports,” she said in a statement.

Colombian Tatiana Calderon, an official test driver for the Sauber Formula One team, will turn out for the DS Techeetah team.

Dutch driver Beitske Visser will be with the BMWi Andretti Motorsport outfit, with Britons Katherine Legge and Jamie Chadwick testing for the Mahindra and NIO teams respectively.

Experienced Swiss racer Simona de Silvestro tests for Venturi and Spaniard Carmen Jorda for the Nissan e.dams team.

Jorda, a former Lotus and Renault F1 development driver, caused some controversy in March when she said women might be better-suited to Formula E than Formula One because the all-electric cars were physically less challenging.

That idea was challenged by other women racers, notably Britain’s Pippa Mann who has competed in the Indianapolis 500 and had success in America in cars without power steering.

Formula One has not had a woman driver compete in a grand prix since 1976, but De Silvestro raced in Formula E two years ago.

Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Toby Davis

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