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The Independent Online

Female racing drivers are moving up the grid, interview with Formula Woman’s Vicky Lloyd.

While Lewis Hamilton’s exploits in Formula One have dazzled the UK public this season, there’s been another motorracing championship taking place with thrills and spills aplenty: Formula Woman.

Created in 2004, it is the only all-female national championship in the world, attracting women to actively participate as well as providing them with all the necessary training and skills. Vicky Lloyd, 24, raced during the 2006 season, when she came second overall, and she is now the organiser behind Formula Woman. We managed to grab her during a quick pit stop to find out more about the competition.

What attracted you to Formula Woman?

I’d always wanted to race. I just thought it would be the perfect opportunity to get into racing and it was a cheaper way of getting into motorsport. Entering a competition, you also have to prove yourself along the way so you’re not jumping into racing feet first if it turns out you’re no good.

Do you just sign up and start racing?

No, there’s a lot to learn before you can go racing! Learning to drive on a track, getting used to the car, overtaking – things like that. It improves your driving skills vastly because you become much more aware of things going on around you and about general car control. Any female in the UK who has a road licence but has never held an MSA (Motor Sports Association) licence can get involved. When you enter you have to fill in an application form, which weeds out the people who are doing it for a bit of a laugh, so some people are eliminated at that stage. Then people are chosen to go to assessment days – they happen all over the country. We probably assessed about 2,000 people last year. You do an initial driving assessment, look at fitness and PR skills and do a written test. If you pass that you then go to the elimination camp, where 100 people turn up and they pick 16 of the best from there.

You race in Caterham cars – what are they like to drive?

They’re excellent actually, a brilliant car to learn to drive and race in. The good thing about them is that they’re not too physically demanding – it’s not as bad as racing a single-seater which can be really heavy, so the women aren’t disadvantaged in any way. ou can get 120mph out of them, which may not seem like a lot but the circuit is mostly corners, so it’s about cornering at speed rather than straight-line speed, and because they’re so light they have a good power-to-weight ratio compared to many other cars. We race on tracks around the UK: Pembrey in Wales, Snetterton in Norfolk, Silverstone, Brands Hatch and Mallory Park.

Why did you only race for one season?

Every year a new batch of women come through the ranks, but there’s no reason to say that previous competitors can’t carry on and race against men, which is ultimately the reason Formula Woman was set up: to bring more women into motorsport. because it’s such a male-dominated sport it is actually just difficult for women to get into the sport at grass-roots level. There’s no physical problem at this level, so once you’ve done a year’s racing you know what the sport’s all about and you feel more confident in yourself and your driving. It gives you the opportunity to go on and progress in the sport.

Why aren’t there more women in motorsport?

It’s all about having confidence in yourself. There are more and more women getting into the sport at every level – engineers, mechanics, PR, marketing and racing – and at some point there’ll be more women in Formula One too, I’m sure.

What’s the future for Formula Woman?

There are plans to expand into Europe; at that point we could have championships in each country and then each champion can compete against each other. This year we are also the first championship to run on biofuel. We converted all our cars to run on biofuel E85, so we’re the greenest championship in the UK.