The amazing 15 year old from Langdon Hills, Essex, easily the least experienced of the entire field, wrapped up her first ever full season [in anything], since starting her motorsport adventure at Brentwood Karting Raceway’s Development Club in early 2016.
Emily started the weekend on the back foot after damage to her car in testing had caused her to miss an entire day’s testing, so she had to play catch up from the outset. She said, “the Richardson Racing Team had worked tirelessly to rebuild the car which had chassis damage following a rear end shunt that caused me to miss the whole of Tuesday’s testing. Friday’s two official 30-minute test sessions were used as a shake down to ensure the car was at least straight, but not much real seat time was available. I was pleased that I was even racing, so I’m very grateful for that.”
With the chance of taking 8th place in the rookie title, she was trying not to focus too much on her results, just to drive the best she could and take what positions came along…but she’s a racer, so that was going to be easier said than done.
Qualifying went awry with her and her team mate not getting the run they’d aimed for, with Emily taking 19th and 21st on her first two races. When she came in from qually, she immediately asked for the car to be set-up differently, taking it back to a harder setting that she’d had at Silverstone two weeks earlier. The team changed it as she requested but mentioned that it wasn’t the ideal set-up to have at Brands Hatch due to its undulating nature.
The car took on a new personality, as she found out entering Paddock Hill Bend for the first time. She said, “the car felt more settles, less “floaty” through the corners, which I preferred, and I felt more comfortable throwing it in to the high-speed corners knowing it was going to stick rather than slide everywhere. I took 8 tenths off my qually time in this race, and that was including fighting on track too, so I was happy with that side of things, but 16th wasn’t where I’d hoped to be. Still, it was a 3-place gain, so I can’t be too upset.”
Race 2 was postponed until the Sunday, due to a big impact that saw one of the drivers hit the barriers hard and be airlifted to hospital for further checks, thankfully resulting in nothing more than some quite heavy bruising, but testament to the build of these race cars. Sunday also saw a bumper crowd of almost 40,000 fans turn up to watch the spectacle, the weather obviously playing its part too with beautiful sunshine and a pleasantly cool breeze blowing gently across the circuit.
“Starting race 2 down in 21st place, it was almost impossible to see the lights, I was so far back,” joked the youngster. But, determination is this young lady’s middle name, so she wasn’t about to let a lowly grid position ruin her fun. The combination of some hard charging overtaking, some amazingly opportunistic overtakes and a little bit of luck, both good and bad, saw her finish in 13th place, but the race finished behind the safety car following a previous incident. Emily recalls, “I’d closed in on the next bunch ahead of me and was about to join them for a scrap for the next four laps when the safety car was deployed. Sadly, the race ran out of time and we finished without a fight for the final four laps. A shame, but it was the same for us all, but 8 places gained in that race wasn’t bad at all. I’ll take that.”
Going in to the last race of the season, she was joint 9th with her team mate with all to play for. There was an outside chance to finish her rookie season in 8th place but she’d have to have some luck thrown her way too, as her two rivals were both starting further up the grid than she was. “I got a great start, at last, and took three places going into turn 1, so I knew this was the chance I’d been looking for all weekend. I moved up in to 8th or 9th place going up the hill and in to the braking zone at Druids Hairpin, when I got shunted hard from behind, pushing me in to the car ahead and spinning me out of contention. I re-joined the race at the back and found my steering wheel was now 90 degrees out, the steering and suspension had taken a big hit and the car wasn’t working very well. I chased the pack but really wasn’t making much headway as the front wheels were no longer pointing forwards. I thought I’d got lucky when the safety car came out, allowing me to close the gap on the cars ahead, but the car just couldn’t muster the pace I needed to fight for better positions. I finished in 16th place, which meant I’d managed to get in to the top ten of the rookie championship, but that’s not the end of it I was aiming for”, said the affable youngster, smiling as always.
Linscott was stunned by the enormous following that she’s gained over the short period she’s been on track and it’s testament to her hard work, accessibility and her ability to engage with her fans on every level that’s making the difference. “It’s crazy to think that I’m just doing what I love and that so many people want to be part of my story. I’m completely blown away by the immense support that everyone has given me, both sponsors and fans alike, and I’m so grateful to have been allowed this amazing opportunity to showcase myself in a way that I’d never have thought possible a year ago. If you’d told me when I started karting that just a year later I’d be racing cars in front of millions of television viewers, have fans (yeah right) and my own range of merchandise being sold, and worn, by hundreds of people around the world, I would have thought you were just mad” said a very proud but stunned teen.
Alongside her focus on her schooling as Emily is in her GCSE year now, the winter off-season will consist of her usual regime of gym training at the Basildon Sporting Village 3 -4 times a week, simulator training and hopefully some on-track testing, but the latter is subject to budget, as is her returning to the track for the 2019 season. She says, in her chirpy, smiley manner, “I’ve got the Pippa Mann Lucas Oil Race School Scholarship drive in the United States to look forward to in January but I’m also concentrating on two other aspects of my racing, which we’ll be aiming to raise enough budget to compete in; the UAE F4 Championship, between January and March 2019 and the UK Championships of either the Ginetta Junior class once more or the British F4 Championship, which I’ve just remembered I’ll be testing again during the school half term...exciting.”
She’s has been such an inspiration to other youngsters who now see Emily as their reason to start their own path in motorsport. By Mark Linscott