Mazda RX-8 Makes Motorsport History At Oulton Park | Part Two

Round One

The field of gleaming silver Mazda RX-8s closed up in a frantic dash away from the line, but Firman held her nerve and her lead into the first corner. 27-year-old Firman quickly set about consolidating her lead and built a 10 second cushion after just four laps. After a truly consummate drive, Firman took the chequered flag in this first race an awesome 18.6 seconds clear of Gardner, who was delighted to improve on her qualifying position.

Round Two

Clearly fired up by a thrilling opening battle, Round 2 in the afternoon proved even more eventful, with the middle order positions seeming to change with each passing lap. Firman once again made a sensational start from pole, putting clear air between her Mazda RX-8 and that of her rivals after just a few laps. Margo Gardner keen to finish on the podium for a second time had an exciting race but ended up seventh after two spins. Hayles was left to take second; Pinner and Blighton hot on her heels taking third and fourth, respectively.

Winner of both races, Natasha Firman was delighted with her sensational start to the Championship. "It’s been absolutely unbelievable," she said. "In the first race the Mazda RX-8 felt really good and I managed to put four or five really quick laps together while a battle developed behind me. In the second race there was much more pressure and I had to really concentrate to pull away. I hear Knockhill is a tricky circuit and I’m sure Margo [Gardner] will be the one to reckon with once again in the next round, especially as it’s on her home turf."

Without having to battle her rivals for circuit position, Firman achieved fastest lap in both races, giving her an extra two points to add to her impressive Oulton Park points tally.

Assessment Days

Over 10,000 women applied to take part and competitors had to be aged 18 years and over, hold a full UK driving licence and must never have held a motor sport race licence. From the initial applications 2,400 were selected to undertake assessments at tracks across the UK.

From these assessments 50 successful applicants went through to an intensive elimination week of rigorous tests, including driving under tuition, fitness, plus personality and presentational skills to decide the final 16, plus two reserves.

continues... | Part Three
Published 15 June 2004 Melanie Carter

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