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May 28, 2016

FAST FEMMES READY FOR ISLAND FOUR HOUR

 

This weekend’s season opener of the 2016 Australian Production Car Series features no less than four fast femmes amongst the 46 drivers entered.

Katilyn Hawkins, Carly Black and Ellexandra Best - took in the view of the Phillip Island circuit, will be joined by Madison Gray today.

The 22-year-old Hawkins of Victoria is sharing the #223 Suzuki Swift with Richard Luff and Nik Kalis this weekend. She started out in karts at the age of 12 before progressing to the senior categories, winning national titles before progressing to cars at the age of 16.

She aims to race in the Kumho V8 Touring Car Series in the next 12 months.

“For me it is all about the adrenaline rush and the speed, and the fact that you can never predict what the end result will be - every race is different,” Hawkins said.

“I am always trying to get my friends involved and especially to help out with volunteering with flag duty and so on, because without the valuable volunteers we wouldn’t get to race.

“I think racing is always going to be viewed as a male dominated sport, but I am happy to see more women competing.

“The APCS is a great category to continue building your career, and the pedigree of racing is fantastic. I am looking forward to getting into it.”

For Black, day one of the APCS opener was not only a celebration of the start of the APCS season, but also her 35th birthday.

The web design/developer from Copacabana will be racing alongside her father Barry Black in the #97 Gosford European Car Services/The Web and Design Studio Renault Clio Sport. Black started racing in SuperSprints where she managed 2nd in her category before going on to Khanacross, Motorkhana, Rally Sprints and Rally.

When she met her circuit-focused now-husband Franck Donniaux in 2007, she then progressed to circuit racing. She has been racing for around five years since. Unfortunately, budget has restrained her activities to around four to five events a year.

“I have always been into cars – it must run in my blood!” Black said.

“I was a late starter, getting on the track for the first time at 28 (I am now 35), and as budget has always been a big concern I haven’t been able to race as much as I would have loved to.

“There is just something about the adrenalin, the precision and the mental and emotional fitness you need to carry out that makes me love this sport. There is so much more that goes into racing than you first realise.

“Each time I go out my goal is first to bring the car home in one piece, second to have a great time, and finally to better my times and work on my skills.

“Most of my girlfriends think I am crazy and aren’t really interested in the sport at all, so unfortunately it is a super hard sell to get them anywhere close to the race track!

“As far as whether racing is still viewed as a ‘man’s sport’, I think it is quite diverse. For example, my husband [fellow APCS racers Franck Donniaux and Barry Black] are huge advocates for women in racing and most men I have come across have been super supportive and encouraging.

“I am not sure what it would be like at the higher levels, it seems like there might still be quite a divide there. I am looking forward to the day that a top team gives a great female driver a go – I really don’t think gender should be looked at, if you can drive and have what it takes, then that is all that matters in the end.

“I think it is great that in the APCS we have an increasing number of women taking part – I don’t get to race against many other females that often so I am excited to have two more on the grid with me this weekend.

“I am just super excited to be racing this weekend in general, and I think also that it is really great that we have two young drivers on the grid at just 15 and 16 years of age – what a great opportunity for them and I wish them all the best for the weekend.”

Sixteen year old Best is currently studying year 11 at Cathedral College in Wangaratta (Victoria) while also working at McDonald’s in Benalla. She is this weekend sharing the #15 Lauren Gray Motorsport Toyota Echo with 15 year old Liam Thompson in what is the youngest ever entry for the Series. For more on the Best/Thompson entry, please click here.

Best’s racing started at the age of seven in go-karting, going on to compete at National, State, Open and Club level. In January of 2015 she won her first National Title – the Australian National Ladies Combined District Kart Club (Lithgow) Junior National Heavy ‘Pink Plate’. That year also hosted her beginnings in circuit racing, with racing in the BP Midland Pedders No Bull Sprint Series where she was crowned the 2015 Junior Class Sprint Series Champion, while also competing in the Victorian and Interstate Hyundai Excel Championships.

“It is still very much male-dominated, and while they are promoting women in motorsports a lot of the time it is very much still separated with women’s championships and so on,” Best said.

“It is good to see lots of women are getting out there and doing it, even in a male-dominated sport, it is good to hear it.

“I have had some of my school friends come down and watch me when I raced at Winton earlier this year and also one of my karting friends come and pit crew for me when I was racing, I am trying to get them to come down and watch. When I talk about it they don’t really understand until they get here in the atmosphere.”