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Last Updated: Monday, 14 March, 2005, 23:02 GMT
Iran salutes female 'Schumacher'
By Natalia Antelava
BBC correspondent in Tehran

Laleh Seddigh behind the wheel
Seddigh has been given the title of Iran's best female racing driver

Women car racers in Iran have been awarded prizes for the first time in the history of the Islamic republic.

At a racing event for women organised by Iran's automobile federation, there was one woman who many in Iran believe could outperform men.

Dozens applauded and cheered as a tiny figure in a blue headscarf appeared on the stage.

At 28, Laleh Seddigh is known for her stunning looks and legendary driving skills.

A PhD student from Tehran, she has been nicknamed "a little Schumacher" after the German Formula One champion. She has now been given the title of Iran's best female racing driver.

But many feel this title does not do her justice.


Over the past two years, Laleh Seddigh, who drives a saloon car, has emerged as one of the most promising racing drivers in Iran, beating even the best of the men in a number of races.

Laleh Seddigh holds her trophy after a race at Tehran's Azadi stadium
She is determined to improve her already high performance
I asked her how men felt about her success.

"Most of them, I think, are jealous, and I don't care about that," she says.

"I am just going and going and hoping to be champion in the next years and I will really try to achieve that goal."

Ms Seddigh says competing with men is not easy in Iran, but she hopes her example will encourage other women to follow suit.

Car racing is becoming increasingly popular among Iranian women.

There were some 30 of them who entered this year's contest for the first prize, but they are not permitted to compete in the same category as men and prizes are awarded separately.

Despite her huge success so far, Ms Seddigh says she is determined to improve her performance.

With more difficult races still ahead, she remains undaunted, even though she is still waiting for permission to compete with the men in forthcoming rallies.

Country profile: Iran
18 Jan 05 |  Country profiles



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