Two years a ago Laleh Seddigh became the first woman to compete against men in any sport since the Islamic Revolution and became Iran’s national rally car rally champion. Two years on and her driving career seems to have stalled after she was banned from participating in a race by the country's motor racing authorities.
"I thought I had been given the go-ahead," she said. "I was walking towards the grid thinking, thank God this has been resolved, when they shut the door on me. They said they didn't know why, but the head of the federation said I wasn't allowed to participate."
It was the first time Seddigh, had been excluded from a contest. Senior federation officials said they had been unable to obtain permission for her participation. However, Seddigh believes she was banned to prevent her earning enough points to repeat her championship success, which won her international fame but upset Iran's male-dominated religious ruling establishment.
Seddigh says a Muslim cleric has already issued a fatwa - a legally binding religious ruling - stating that there is no religious bar to women racing against men provided Islamic dress code is observed. She plans to use the fatwa if she fails to persuade federation officials to grant her permission to take part in future races.
The federation's vice-president, Hossein Shahryari, said Seddigh had been barred because of a government circular restricting women to female-only events. That decree has now been lifted, he said. But he added: "Women are speaking highly of themselves and that causes men who sacrifice their lives in this sport. Women are not champions in this sport, they are only participants. If they observed Islamic regulations more they would not have such problems."