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Chequered flag for men-only racing

Women should be in the driving seat of Formula One racing cars, rather than acting as "brolly dollies" for men on the winner's podium, the RAC said yesterday.

The machismo world of motor sports has long seemed closed to women drivers. Despite no formal bar to entry, only 2 per cent of drivers who hold competitive motor sport licences in Britain are women.

"There is no discrimination in the sport so why not many ladies race is a bit of a mystery," said a spokesman for the RAC Motor Sports Association. "We do have one lady racing in Formula 3, but on a statistical basis there ought to be seven or eight of them," he added.

The RAC said the split among teenage boys and girls competing in karting was about 50/50, and it could not explain why girls gave up motor sports when they were older.