To celebrate International Women’s Day we look at some remarkable young women blazing their own trail in motorsport writes Geraldine Herbert
“Growing up, I was around racing all the time and there were only one or two women competing, and I thought to myself, ‘I could do that, I could be fast’,” says motorbike racer Nicole Lynch. Riding her Medlar Racing Suzuki SV650, she was the first Irish female rider to compete in the World Superbike Championship.
Dublin-born Nicole has been riding bikes from the age of four and racing since 2014, with numerous podium finishes under her belt. In 2016, she competed in the European Junior Cup.
Nicole comes from a family of keen bikers. “When I was nine my brother started racing sidecars, so we used to go to Mondello at the weekends and watch him race. I remember sitting in his sidecar holding onto the handlebars, pretending I was the one going racing.”
Being the only woman on the grid doesn’t bother Nicole and she quickly discovered there are no barriers out on the track.
“The guys don’t treat me different, or race any easier against me. If I beat them it’s fair and square, and if I don’t it just motivates me more,” she says, and in some ways it has worked to her advantage. “My sponsors and supporters are all very interested in promoting female inclusion and participation in sport.”
In between competitions, Nicole is committed to not only raising her profile but also those of other female competitors and writes a monthly column in both Bike Buyers Guide and wheelsforwomen.ie. “It is so important right now to show that women can compete in what are usually described as male-dominated sports. Women can do it too, and as more women get involved, the sport can only continue to improve.”
European Drift Champion
“For as long as I can remember I’ve been mad about driving,” says Danielle Murphy. Driving her ‘Green Monster’ (a Nissan Silvia S14a), Danielle is currently the highest ranked female drift car driver in Ireland
“Drifting is a test of precision driving with skill, confidence, speed and adrenaline all at once,” she says. “It is controlling a rear wheel drive car around a track with clipping points – the idea is you must place the front or rear end of the car in these clipping zones to gain points while breaking traction on the rear wheels and sliding the car while in full control to the end of the course. It’s like Figure Skating in cars.”
Danielle Murphy was the first ever Queen of Europe Ladies Drift League Champion in 2013, coming runner up in the 2014 & 2016 Championships she secured the Championship title for a second time in 2015.
After a complete overhaul and numerous performance upgrades to her car “The Green Monster” over a 22 month period, 2017 was set to be another achievable year for Danielle until disaster struck, both hers and her brothers cars were completely destroyed in an accidental fire at her Tuners Garage early last Summer.
With years of continued investment into the car, and insufficient insurance from the garage, it was an impossible task to come back from. That was until October last, Danielle was offered a donor car, a damaged BMW E92 by one of her good friends at Destiny Car Dismantlers in Portlaoise. This gave her an important decision to make, give up, or try gather all of her resources to get a replacement car built on little to no budget.
Being a continued inspiration to men, women and children all around the World, Danielle’s #NeverGiveUp and determined attitude remained. With the amazing support from her Sponsors, family and friends, Danielle is now in the process of building this new car herself with the help from a small circle of friends and aims to have the car up and running over the next few weeks prior to competition in the next couple of months. This lady means business!
Top Fuel Pilot
Drag-racing is one of the most macho of motor sports, but that hasn’t stopped 23-year- old Gabrielle MacDonald becoming one of the most decorated female racers, with a trophy cabinet to prove it.
Shorter and quicker than any other form of motorsport, drag racing is an acceleration contest between two cars (or bikes) over a flat, straight distance. The “top-fuel” cars are the fastest cars in drag racing.
Gabrielle currently races in a 30-foot long 8,000bhp dragster that reaches over 300mph (482 km/h) in less than four seconds on a 300 metre track.
Find out more about Gabrielle here
Formula Ford Racer
Having successfully raced single-seaters in Formula Sheane for a number years, the 30-year-old from Newcastle, Co Down moved into Formula Ford.
But Jennifer is not standing still and has set her sights on a future in the ranks of GT racing.
Jennifer’s interest in motorsport began as a child, as she watched local heroes such as Andrew Nesbitt and the late Bertie Fisher on rally stages.
Jennifer sets off this week off on her second trip to Australia to compete at the Phillip Island Classic in a Formula Ford 1600. Run over three days, the Phillip Island classic begins on Friday 17th March and will be run over five races during the weekend. Jennifer currently also races a Formula Ford both here in Ireland and the UK for the Ecurie Australia/P1 Racing team.
For more info on Jennifer Mullan check out her website.
Nicole Drought, 22, from Tipperary is the current sportswomen.ie Irish Sportswoman Of The Year. In 2016 she became the first woman to win in Irish Touring Cars, qualified on the front row for her sportscar debut in Global GT Lights and joined the Murphy Prototypes Young Driver Programe, attending the ELMS race at Le Castellet in France with the team too.
Nicole is a final year student of Accountancy and Business in UL, Limerick and as a result of her success has recently been made en Elite Student by the University.
IN 2017 she will compete in Global GT Lights in the UK, some Historic races in Ireland and will also test and possibly race in the Sprint Serie in France too.
Alyx Coby: At just 13 years old, Alyx Coby has already made a name for herself in the world of karting. The youngster from Newbridge, Co. Kildare, is one of the fastest rising stars in the sport.
“I’ve been around motorsport since I was a baby. A lot of my memories involve karting, but my earliest memories are of sitting outside the family race awning when I was about four years old with my Mam, watching the buzz and activity of the drivers and mechanics around the paddock,” she recalls.
Alyx races in the IAME X30 Junior class of the Motorsport Ireland Karting Championship, which caters for drivers aged 11-16, with the karts reaching speeds of up to 130 km/h.
Finishing in third place in the Championship in 2017 it was her best season to date, securing seven podium finishes and one race win – plus she also set the fastest lap six times, including setting the lap record on the new Mondello Park Junior Karting circuit.
She also earned a place at the IAME International Final at Le Mans in France in October to compete against more than 130 of the best drivers in the world.
The Newbridge schoolgirl has ambitions to build on her success in 2018. “After finishing in third place in last year’s championship, the goal is to win it this season. I also hope to qualify to race at Le Mans again”, Alyx says.
The 2018 Motorsport Ireland Karting Championship gets under way on March 25th at Whiteriver Park in Co. Louth and features an expanded calendar of 10 rounds. The series will also visit Mondello Park and circuits in Cork, Galway and Meath.
The junior speedster has ambitions to build on her success in 2018,
“After finishing in third place in this year’s championship the goal is to win it next season. I also hope to qualify to race at Le Mans again,” she says.
For more info on Alyx check out her website
The 22 year-old from Ballyjamesduff, Co Cavan, drove her Ford Fiesta R2 to victory in the Junior section of the Cork 20 International, which clinched the Junior title in the Clonakilty Blackpudding Irish Tarmac Rally Championship.
In 2017 Jenna scored a string of good results in the Junior section of the series to place her in a strong position for the title, and her victory in the final round, the highlight of her year, left her well ahead of her closest rival.
She began rallying in early 2015 in a Peugeot 106, having previously acted as co-driver for her father, and she won the Group R Cup in the Triton Showers National Rally Championship.
Jenna is a Social Care worker, and would like to contest next year’s Irish Forestry Championship, as well as a couple of rounds of the British Rally series. Her principal sponsors are APlus Skip Hire, Euro Oil, J & G Haulage (Cavan), and Hydraseals Hose and Bearings Ltd.
You can follow Jenna on facebook
7th March, 2018