The rise of motorsport's women
Tue, 28 Aug 2012 6:47p.m.
By Shaun Summerfield
When Emma Gilmour finished second in this year’s New Zealand Rally Championship, few of the sport’s followers were surprised. The Dunedin driver has been at the pointy end of the sport for almost a decade.
Around the world, motorsport remains male dominated – but could things be changing?
Gilmour was runner-up this year for the third year in a row – to use a sporting cliché, the bridesmaid. After a decade in the sport it's hardly a new joke.
“When I started out people were always wanting to beat the girl, they'd get a bit of ribbing from their mates if they were beaten by a girl,” she says.
For Scottish DTM racer Suzie Wollf it’s a case of different tracks, same story.
“Some of the boys don't like to be beaten by a girl,” says Wollf.
It comes down to numbers. In this testosterone-filled sport women are a minority, and still considered a novelty.
“Having to prove how well a female can do up against a man – I’m racing for me,” says Wollf.
In the US, Nascar driver Danica Patrick has become one of the biggest names – not just in motorsport, but sport full stop – often by embracing her gender.
But if the yardstick is success behind the wheel, then Michele Mouton is the best female driver ever.
Three decades ago she became the first women to win a world championship event, but she was also the last.
Keen to change this, Mouton leads the FIA's Women and Motorsport Commission – which Gilmour is part of.
“We do need to be getting more women into motorsport, so it’s great that they're acknowledging it at the top level of the sport with the FIA,” says Gilmour.
The last woman to start a formula one race was Lella Lombardi in 1976.
Former world champ Damon Hill believes it's time for the sport to change some attitudes.
“We now think it's perfectly natural for women to lead countries and companies and I think we've changed now with our attitudes, so we’ll have to see what happens with motorsport.”
There are hints of change being on the way, with Wolff being signed as a development driver for the Williams F1 team.
“Given the opportunity to show what I can do, it's up to me to show what I can do, and make the best of it,” she says.
And the goal? Not to be the fastest female, just the fastest.
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29/08/2012 1:01:10 a.m.
wayne kerr wrote:
very good to see ladys geting into moter sport very good lokking milf this 1!
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