Well, I have just woken up from what seems like an incredible dream. Over the past two days I have been down in Llandow, South Wales for the Formula Woman elimination camp where I have been buffered and beaten by the wind, rain, and unfortunately a rather heavy and painful go-kart! The full story......
I travelled down on Monday night with my Mum (who was also competing in the competition!) to a lovely Hotel called Crossways House, just outside Cowbridge which is very close to Llandow circuit where the elimination camp was being held (I would highly recommend Crossways!) We arrived at the circuit for 7.30am where the 100 girls all registered and were split into 5 groups of 20. Each group then had to complete 5 activities during the day at varying times including car control, avoidance breaking, circuit driving, media testing and fitness. Car control consisted of various weaves in and out of cones where we had to try and get the car oversteering and understeering and controlling these variations accordingly. This was fantastic fun and we were assessed by instructors. Next I had avoidance breaking where after a gaining a lot of speed down a small stretch of the airfield we then had to apply a small amount of breaking before a weave in the cones and coming to a stop within a coned box. Again, great fun and assessed by instructors. Next came the best bit, my time on the circuit...........Having spent the whole morning in the Caterham already I was well adjusted to the handling and controls of the car and I went out with Richard, one of the Formula Woman instructors. I had 3 laps with Richard providing input and advice and then 2 assessed laps with no input followed. This was fantastic and I didn't want to go back into the pits after my final lap!
Fortunately the weather held and despite the biting wind some blue sky managed to find its way through! Following a spot of lunch it was time for media testing. This involved a one to one "interview" with an assessor who asked me questions about a race scenario! Then came the fitness test where we had to run round the circuit (approx a mile) and then see how long we could hold the "plank" position and how many press ups we could manage! I was exhausted by this point but managed to push through and get good scores!
So the end of the first day had arrived and 68 of us knew that we may have to face the sad, lonely drive home. The formula woman team managed to maintain the tension by making us wait what seemed like hours for the results, however their decision finally came. All our names were called out and we were each put into Group 1, 2 or 3. I was put into group 1. They then announced that groups 2 and 3 were going home and after a couple of minutes, the information finally registered and I realised I had got through to the final 32 and to the next day of testing! I was over the moon but also incredibly dissapointed that my Mum had not qualified with me.
So it was onto the second day, and following a restless and dream filled nights sleep we again arrived at the circuit for 7.30am. We again registered and were put into groups. My group first went across to the nearby karting circuit where we had two races. The first went fairly well, however the second race, having squeezed my way upto 3rd position from 6th on the grid turned into a bit of a nightmare! On the tight hairpin before the long straight the adrenalin was running like a torent through my veins and I overcooked the corner, ending up in a small slide spin. Before I knew it another kart had ploughed straight into the right side of my kart the impact of which sent my knee crashing into the central steering column on my kart! Ouch! The race was stopped and I received attention from a circuit paramedic. Fortunately my knee and thigh were just badly swollen and bruised - I have a purple whopper to show for it!
Despite my karting accident I managed to return to the main circuit and complete my final familiarisation session in the Caterham with an instructor. The Welsh weather had failed to hold any longer and had provided a slight down pour so my final practice session was a bit of a greasy one! I managed to spin twice (which I found fun although I don't think my instructor did!) however I was confident with my lines and my knowledge of the track. It was then onto the most important part of the day.....flying timed laps! We had 1 inlap, 3 timed and one outlap. I went out hell for leather and as the track had dried out quickly from the gusty wind I managed to put in some fast laps and achieve some good times.
Finally, after another long and exhausting day, the 32 were brought together for the announcement to be made and to my utter shock I was selected as one of the 16 drivers to race in the 2007 Championship!
I am due to take my ARDS racing licence on Tuesday 10th and then I am attending a practice race session at Silverstone the following Saturday before our first race of the Championship at Pembrey Circuit in Wales on the 28th and 29th July! Then it is onto Snetterton 11th and 12th August, Silverstone on the 29th September and Brands Hatch on the 3rd and 4th November!
Wish me luck!
Many thanks for reading and you are all welcome to come and watch any of the races!
Jenny Sleath x