Motorsport: Women add to the formula

By Eric Thompson

Tatiana Calderon. Photo / Bruce Jenkins
Tatiana Calderon. Photo / Bruce Jenkins

When it comes to interviewing race car drivers, women have a different and interesting perspective on the sport.

Through the ages women drivers have taken on the men and occasionally got one over them. One of the pioneers was Janet Guthrie who became the first woman to race the Indianapolis 500 (1977) and Nascar's Daytona 500 in the same year. Michele Mouton was a highly accomplished rally driver who won four rounds and finished second in the WRC in 1982. There was also Lella Lombardi, who won a point in Formula One, and Danica Patrick.

In 2008, Patrick became the first woman to win a major open wheel event when she led the IndyCar field home in Japan. She's now one of the biggest draw cards in Nascar and this year will be racing in the main game Sprint Cup full time.

If anyone thinks the organisers of F1, V8 Supercars, GP2, GP3, F3, or any of the many other racing class want to keep women out of motor sport, you're stark raving mad. Most of the blokes who run the sport would give an important part of their anatomy to have a woman who could compete in their series.

If there was a super quick female F1 driver out there, Bernie Ecclestone would break the bank at Monte Carlo to get her a drive.

Why? All of sudden you've doubled your audience and opened the door for a whole new raft of sponsors to come on board.

Last year Italian Michela Cerruti competed in the Toyota Racing Series. It was her first time in single seaters and she acquitted herself well, finishing the season in 16th. Back on home soil, Cerruti finished 10th picking up a win along the way.

"I've had a good 2012 season with some ups and downs but that's normal," said Cerruti. "The thing I notice the most with formula cars [open wheel] is they are physically hard compared to saloon cars as there is no power steering. Only F1 has that.

"I have to do a lot of fitness training to be able to match the men. But the more you do the better you get, and racing so many kilometres here last year helped me a lot. It's good to see that the TRS has another woman racing and I hope she does well."

Cerruti is referring to Columbian Tatiana Calderon who does have a pedigree in single seaters. In her rookie year in the US Star Mazda Championship, she became the first female driver to finish on the podium (with two thirds) and finished sixth overall.

Moving to Europe, the 19-year-old joined the European F3 series as the only woman and again finished on the podium - ending the season in ninth, beating a lot of talented young male drivers.

At the opening round of the 2013 TRS championship in Teretonga last weekend, Calderon finished 12th, 11th and 11th at and again crossed the line in 12th in the opening Timaru race yesterday.

- Herald on Sunday

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