The idea was to have an all-female race to promote the participation of females in Motorsport and at the same time set a record for the amount of female drivers competing in the same race. To add to the females in motorsport theme, 84 female marshalls were on duty around the Silverstone national circuit.
With all sorts of cars entered from a Mini all the way up to a GT3 Lamborghini Gallardo, it wouldn’t have been practical to have a straight race between the 29 entrants so the race was held as a handicap race.
This meant after a qualifying session, the competing cars were given credit or debit laps and also potentially a head start. This means the slower cars would be starting the race with laps already credited but the fastest cars, such as Fiona James Lamborghini would already be several laps behind the field. (In Fiona’s case 4 laps.)
The qualifying session was held in wet conditions which made the job of deciding the handicaps hard, especially as it wasn’t known what conditions the race would be held in. Fiona James had unsurprisingly been the fastest of the qualifying session and so she had 4 debit laps and most of the rest of the field also had a head start on her!
The race was flagged away in six groups but with the various credit and debit laps, the car at the front of the field wasn’t necessarily the leader! By now it was raining steadily with occasional heavy bursts making track conditions extremely difficult.
Caroline Gilbert took the lead quite early on in her Mini and held it for much of the race but as the faster cars caught up as they overcame their handicap Caroline was passed by Sarah Franklin in her Renault Clio 197. Stacey Dennis also managed to pass Caroline before the end in her Alfa Romeo 147 but Caroline held onto third. Fourth overall was Wendy Mortimer in her Modern Mini Challenge car, she was also awarded best newcomer. Fifth was Amy Barker, who may well have been higher if the race had been slightly longer as she was one of the quickest cars on track for much of the race. Nina Fountain was awarded driver of the day in her Toyota MR2 taking ninth in the race. Fiona James unsurprisingly set fastest lap in her Lamborghini but the 4 debit laps plus delayed start proved far too great of a handicap to overcome, especially with the wet conditions. She finished down in twenty sixth still three laps behind at the end.
The race was declared a great success not just by the drivers themselves but also the spectators and officials and plans are underway for another running of the event next year. They also confirmed after the event that they had set a new British Record for the amount of female drivers racing ina single event. This could well turn out to be the first running of a long standing event and the twenty nine competitors will be able to say they were there for the first ever Race for a record!
1st Sarah Franklin Renault Clio 197
2nd Stacey Dennis Alfa Romeo 147
3rd Caroline Gilbert Rover Mini Cooper
4th Wendy Mortimer MINI JCW
5th Amy Barker Mazda Mx-5 Mk1
6th Barbara Shillaker Peugeot 106 Rallye
7th Maxine Nicholls Toyota MR2 Mk3
8th Helen Waddington MG ZR160
9th Nina Fountain Toyota MR2 Mk1
10th Tina Cooper Lotus Elise
Fastest Lap Fiona James 1:15.920 By Marc Waller