BRISTOL teenager Lauren Dunleavy is celebrating after becoming Rookie Champion at the Castle Combe Junior Karting Championships in Wiltshire.
She is the first girl to win this trophy in the championship’s 25 year-plus history.
Fourteen-year-old Lauren started karting two years ago but only entered her first championships at the end of 2022.
Over several months Lauren has competed across 10 rounds of the Castle Combe championship to secure the most points to win the rookie trophy as well a trophy for Highest Scoring Female. The championship, run by DriveTech, is based at the Castle Combe racetrack and attracts over 70 entrants every year. This year there were 32 “rookie” or “new” entrants, six of whom were girls, all hoping to win a place on the podium.
Drivetech’s Luke Cooper said: “In her first season racing in the championship Lauren has really stood out, putting in some very impressive results: finishing in the top 10 five times, taking best place of 4th in round 9 and winning the rookie championship.”
Lauren’s mum Ingrid said: “The world of motorsports is not something we know much about but the team at Castle Combe have been great in helping us understand how it all works. They test and train youngsters to make sure they’re competing at the right level and teach them how to drive safely within the rules of the sport.”
Inspired by a chance encounter with professional female driver Jamie Chadwick at the Castle Combe track, Lauren’s ultimate dream is to drive at Formula 1 level. For now she hopes to continue at Castle Combe next season but also to try faster ‘race’ karts which will allow her to gain her race licence so she can compete at a higher level. This will come with a higher price tag as well as higher speed so she hopes to find sponsorship.
Lauren said: “I’m excited to try faster karts as well as electric karts. “I’m trying to learn as much as I can, as quickly as possible, to be in with a chance to compete at Formula 1 or Formula E level when I’m older.”
Lauren’s success comes a few weeks after the UK’s motorsports governing body announced a new Academy Programme to help decrease the gender bias in the world of motorsports. MotorsportUK hopes to seek out and encourage female talent between the ages 8-12 to help decrease the current disparity. At the moment only 5% of senior race licence holders are women.
Ingrid commented: “It’s a real shame that at the age of 14, Lauren won’t be able to make use of the new but we’re hoping that with a combination of talent, sponsorship support and luck, Lauren can still progress quickly through the ranks. It’s great that women are finally getting a look-in in a sport which has traditionally been male-dominated. We shouldn’t even be talking about it. It shouldn’t be an issue.”
Follow Lauren on Instagram: Lauren’s Racing Instagram @l.dunleavy35