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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 13 December 2018

UAE's Amna Al Qubaisi in contention to be part of new all-women's W Series

The teenager, who is testing a Formula E car next month, among

Amna Al Qubaisi is in contention for a drive in the W Series in 2019. Image handout
Amna Al Qubaisi is in contention for a drive in the W Series in 2019. Image handout

The UAE's Amna Al Qubaisi is among 55 women in contention to compete in an all-female motor racing series in 2019.

The W Series, which is set to launch in May with drivers racing 1.8 litre Formula Three cars for a US $1.5 million (Dh5.5m) prize fund, had more then 100 applications to be involved.

That has now been almost halved to a shortlist of 55 and the 18 year old is among those on the list that was published on Wednesday.

The drivers will now face on and off tests, which will be monitored by former Formula One drivers David Coulthard and Alexander Wurz before a final decision is made on who will be competing in the series, with the number being slashed to a final line-up of 18.

Unlike in many other motorsport series, including F1, there is no budgetary requirement for drivers or expectation of them bringing finances to support their drive and position on the grid.

It is the latest development in Al Qubaisi's push for a career in single-seater motorsport.

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Read more

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Explainer: What is the new, all-female W Series?

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On December 16 she will become the first Arab woman to test a Formula E car when gets behind the wheel in Saudi Arabia.

She will take part in a test session with Envision Virgin Racing team the day after the opening round of the 2018/19 Formula E season on December 15, the the Ad Diriyah ePrix, in Riyadh.

Al Qubaisi has competed in Formula 4 this season having previously impressed in karting, most notably becoming the first Emirati female in 2017 to win the Senior class Rotax Max Challenge.

Spain's ex-Lotus and Renault Formula One development driver Carmen Jorda, a 30-year-old who also sits on the governing FIA's women's commission, was among the other women those to go on to the next phase.

So too was Britain's Jamie Chadwick, 20, who in 2015 became the first female driver to win a British GT championship and this year became the first woman to win a round of the British Formula Three series, finishing eighth overall.

Indian racers Mira Erda, 18, and Sneha Sharma, 28, also made the long list, while there are seven drivers from the United States hoping to be picked.

The W Series organisers say they hope to provide a platform for women to develop their skills before taking on male drivers further up the motorsport ladder.

Catherine Muir, the W Series chief executive, said: "We are thrilled but perhaps not surprised by the response

“Even today there is a massive gender imbalance in motorsport and W Series is making the first step to correct that.

“Drivers from all over the world have stepped forward, so it's clear that with the right framework we can make the changes this sport desperately needs.”

Wurz, who drove in F1 between 1997 and 2007, racing for Benetton and Williams, told the BBC: "We know there is no difference in capability between male and female drivers.

"I have a positive feeling towards the series so I am taking it as a responsibility to choose the people who really deserve a chance in a category where they will become professional racing drivers."

The first race is scheduled for Hockenheim in Germany on May 3 and a total of six races are due to be held, with drivers racing a F3 specification Tatuus T-318 car.

The overall series winner will collect $500,000, with prize money down to 18th place.