Tue 08 Mar 2022

International Women’s Day

Today (8 March) is International Women’s Day, and in keeping with our commitment to fostering diversity and sustainability in the sport, we are proud to count many extremely successful and inspirational women in the FIA World Rallycross Championship paddock...

Today (8 March) is International Women’s Day, and in keeping with our commitment to fostering diversity and sustainability in the sport, we are proud to count many extremely successful and inspirational women in the FIA World Rallycross Championship paddock.

Although motor racing is still regarded as predominantly a male-dominated arena, times are changing, with ever-greater female participation across the board – from driving to engineering and from media to team management. Here are just a few examples...

THE TRAILBLAZER

Susann Hansen was unquestionably the trailblazer. Having begun her career behind the steering wheel, she clinched the ERA 1400 Cup crown (for Group N cars up to 1,400cc) in 1994 – in so doing, making history and breaking the mould as the first woman ever to win a European Rallycross Championship title.

Now team manager of multiple World Championship-winning outfit Hansen Motorsport, Sweden’s ‘First Lady’ of rallycross co-ordinates every aspect of the squad’s activities both on and off-event, and is the driving force behind the family-run operation’s long-term environmental strategy.

Being a role model was never a mission of mine, but if I have inspired or encouraged any women to join motorsport, I would be really happy,” she reflects. “It’s a really interesting world; there are so many roles you can do – driving, managing, engineering, for example – and it’s innovative and competitive.

“It’s a modern sport of sorts; other disciplines are a bit older than ours, so they have built up traditions over the years, which might create a fixed perception of how things should be done, but in rallycross, everything has grown a little bit differently. It’s a natural place for women to be.”

FUTURE STAR

If Susann Hansen laid down the foundations for others to build upon, then compatriot Klara Andersson is very much leading the modern-day female charge on-track. Having defeated no fewer than 55 male rivals to lift the Swedish Rallycross Championship laurels in 2021 – in her rookie campaign at ‘Senior’ level and only her fourth season in cars full-stop – the 22-year-old continued to turn heads on her FIA RX2e Championship debut at Spa-Francorchamps last September.

After getting the better of champion-elect Guillaume De Ridder in a tense Q2 scrap and falling just short of the podium in the final, Andersson returned to the fray at the Nürburgring the following month, registering her maiden qualifying race win in Q3 to further enhance her burgeoning reputation.

“My career goal is to become the first female World Rallycross Champion,” she asserts. “Motorsport is my passion in life and one of the things I love about it is that it’s one of the few sports where men and women can compete on equal terms. That means you race against the very best drivers, no matter the gender. I would love to see more females behind the steering wheel discovering this incredible sport!”

MOLLY ON THE MIC’

Molly Pettit is no stranger to being sat behind the steering wheel herself, having started out in circuit racing before focussing on carving out a successful career on camera, as a popular live television presenter for both World RX and sister series the FIA World Rally Championship.

The Norwegian is a familiar face in paddocks all around the world, as a highly-respected and knowledgeable reporter whose in-depth understanding of the pressures of competition generates incisive and engaging interviews with the stars of the show.

“For me, motorsport feels like home,” she acknowledges. “I feel very lucky to spend a lot of my time with the world’s best drivers, seeing them go through all the highs and lows. It gives me so much joy to see them succeed and to be the person that often gets those first reactions after a win. 

“In 2022, it is fantastic to see how many talented and hard-working women there are in rallycross and in motorsport in general – there are no limits and there is no divide. I hope we see many more women joining the family in the years to come!”

BORN INTO THE SPORT

Janina Gonzalez has been around motorsport all of her life. Born into a family of motorcyclists, she followed her father to motocross circuits as a child and accompanied him on the legendary Dakar Rally, even taking to the co-driver’s seat after he switched to cars in rally-raid competitions.

For the past four years, she has been employed by Spanish electro-mobility specialist QEV Technologies – one half of the pioneering partnership behind RX2e. As series co-ordinator, she is responsible for overseeing the smooth running of the championship – a task that she says was extremely rewarding in its inaugural campaign.

“Working on so many projects here at QEV Tech, we never get bored!” she laughs. “The first season of RX2e was a great experience supported by a fantastic team. It’s always an exciting challenge to launch something new, but it would not have been the same without such a great team of people and drivers.

“It’s great to see an increasing number of women at the circuits in all areas, but we are still missing many more! For me, joining rallycross has been a good fusion between my passion for off-road competition and my experience in circuit racing. I encourage everyone to strive to work in an area that they enjoy.”

TELEMETRY TALK

As a telemetry engineer for Marelli Motorsport, Emily Andreoli spends her World RX race weekends checking that electronic sensors are correctly mounted and downloading and analysing key data from cars, to ensure they all comply with the championship’s technical regulations.

A motorsport aficionado through-and-through, the Italian says her role requires ‘clear and precise communication skills, diplomacy and tenacity’, as she admits that ‘I do what I love and I love what I do’.

“Nowadays, you can find many successful women in all areas of motorsport, from drivers to engineers, mechanics, team managers, officials and media,” she explains. “Motorsport is the perfect environment to share a passion for cars, improve and train different skills, meet new people and feel part of a big community. It’s important you find something you really love. It will not always be easy, but passion will give you the strength to achieve your goals.”

Check back over the coming days for more in-depth dives into the careers of World RX’s formidable females...

Latvia
Starts: Thursday, July 18, 2024 at 4:31:00 AM
Italy
Starts: Friday, July 26, 2024 at 7:00:00 AM
Hungary
Starts: Saturday, July 27, 2024 at 6:00:00 AM