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.”
For the 2019 season Nicole Lynch is delighted to be racing on board the Medlar Racing Yamaha R6. Nicole has just completed a successful pre season test at Jerez in the south of Spain. “The test went really well and with the great weather we had the opportunity to try lots of different set ups with the bike. It’s important to learn both what makes the bike better and what makes it worse so we know which direction to continue with. The new bike is
completely different than anything I’ve been on before and it’s much more powerful. It’s a steep learning curve but I’m doing everything I can to be prepared for this new challenge”
Nicole will be taking part in the official Dunlop Masters test weekend on the 23rd & 24th March before commencing her season at the first round on the 6th & 7th April. This will be Nicoles first year competing in the very competitive Supersport Cup class racing a 600cc motorbike. She will be taking part in several rounds of both the Dunlop Masters & Ulster Superbike championships in Ireland and will also be racing at select rounds at Donington Park and Oulton Park in the UK.
European Drift Champion
“For as long as I can remember I’ve always had a brazen attitude about driving,” says Danielle Murphy. Danielle is currently one of the highest ranked female Drift Competitors in the World. Being a resident driver at the SEMA Show in Las Vegas with Superformance, Drifting the historic Shelby Cobra’s in the main arena for the past 4 years, this lady means business!
“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 being 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”, a green Nissan S14a, over a 22 month period, 2017 was set to be another achievable year for Danielle until disaster struck, both hers and her brothers competition 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 2018, 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 proved that anything is possible once you set your mind to it. The quest to attract support to get back on track was not an easy one, with thanks to her amazing sponsors providing products, family and small circle of friends, “The Phoenix” was built in a garage donated to Danielle for her to use so she could rise again, doing a lot of the developing and build herself with a tight circle of friends…
Danielle is today driving & testing her newly built car, aptly named, “The Phoenix” for the very first time! What an achievement!
Nicole Drought, 23, 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.
” This year I have a number of things on. I won the Class 1A Championship in the Coffee Perfection Endurance Trial Championship in 2018 in a 1.0 Nissan Micra, (having just done the opening round as a PR stunt, as I am a Nissan Generation Next Ambassador!). I am back in this cost effective series this year, again in a Micra- and the title defence started in the best possible way, with a win at the opening round, the ALMC Spring Lanes Trial, two weeks ago”
“I will also return to the Stryker Championship with the intention of running right at the front, more regularly this season! I have stepped up my fitness regime a lot this year and have also been working with Alan Heary (alanheary.com), the sports Mind Coach- who is fantastic. I will also be working with the guys in the Virtual Race Academy (Vra.ie) at Mondello to show how Sim training can improve and hone a driver’s skills on track.
As well as this I will compete in a number of rounds of the Citroen C1 Challenge in the UK, starting with the four hour race in Anglesey on May 25th”
At just 14 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 has spent the winter testing as she prepares to embark on her final season in the IAME X30 Junior class of the Motorsport Ireland Karting Championship. 2018 was her best season to date with a third place finish in the Championship, securing six podium finishes, three race wins and setting the fastest lap six times – including setting the lap record at Watergrasshill in Cork. With that third place finish she once again 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 and remains the only Irish girl to have raced at the event. Last year Alyx also competed in the F100UK Championship – a historic racing series features karts from the lates 80s and 90s, a period referred to as the “golden age of karting”. Racing in the JICA class, the Newbridge schoolgirl was racing a kart similar to the one her father Gary drove when he was her age. Despite never having raced this type of kart before, Alyx quickly got to grips with it.
At the O Plate meeting at Nutts Corner she impressed everybody with her pace, going on to win the event. She paid a second visit to the series at GYG in North Wales at the end of the year where she once again put in a dominant performace to remain undefeated in JICA class and was also presented with the driver of the day award. Alyx’s first home race of 2019 will be in Cork on March 24th at Watergrasshill for the Munster Karting Club’s O Plate meeting before the 2019 Motorsport Ireland Karting Championship gets under way on April 14th at Mondello Park in Co. Kildare. Running over 8 rounds, the series also visits ciruits in counties Louth, Meath, Galway, Cork and Antrim before drawing to a close in mid-September. The Newbridge schoolgirl has ambitions to build on her success in 2019. “After finishing in third place in last year’s championship, the goal is to win it this season in what will be my final season as a junior before moving up to the senior class next year. I also hope to return to the F100UK series if the calendar allows it.”, Alyx says.
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
Ruth Nugent, 25 years old, is from Gormanston in Co. Meath. She has been a dedicated motorsport marshal at a variety of motorsport events on track and on the roads since she was 12 years old and in 2018 she stepped from the banks into the drivers seat for her racing debut in the Fiesta Zetec Championship where she finished in the top ten in her first years racing. She was a driver on the first ever all-female team to compete in the Fiesta Zetec 6 hour endurance race in 2018 and achieved the fastest lap of the team. This team achievement gave Ruth great exposure on the likes of the 6 o’clock RTE news and the Elaine talk show on Virgin Media One alongside her team mates.
Ruth was a navigator in Class 1A in the National Endurance Trials and in her first year navigating claimed a 2nd place prize. Whenever she wasn’t racing she continued marshalling on the banks of Mondello Park whenever she could. Through her “From Delta to Driver” vlogs she documented this in the hope of encouraging more marshals to volunteer and to also try and encourage more females into the sport. Through these vlogs she was discovered by a BBC research team who invited her to do a screen test for a childrens TV show (CBeebies Amazing Machines, originally hosted by rally driver Catie Munnings) over in Anglesey in Wales in January 2019.
In 2019 she will be competing in her second year in the Fiesta Zetec Championship with the aim of another top ten or top five. She also intends to compete again in the Fiesta Zetec 6 hour endurance race in Mondello Park. She is a beginner BMX race cyclist and intends on competing in some club races this year with the Ratoath BMX club to keep up her fitness. Ruth will be helping the Motorsport Marshals Association train in new marshals for car and bike events this year and will be continuing training as an Incident Officer at the Dunlop Masters in Mondello Park.
7th March, 2019