INTERVIEW: Georgia’s rally cry to female drivers

Last week I spoke to a fabulous young lady by the name of Georgia Shiels who is on a one woman mission to change the stereotype of female drivers.

Here’s my interview with the 17-year-old rally driver.

Female drivers receive more than their fair share of bad press.

But  Georgia Shiels looks set to put that particular stereotype to bed.
Having been introduced to rally driving after her dad, Antony, took her to Knock Hill Motorshow in Edinburgh, two years ago, Georgia found herself bitten by the rallying bug.
“I didn’t really want to go,” says Georgia, who is currently studying A-levels at Lancaster Grammar School.
“I’ve never been a huge fan of motorsport but I went and I had a 10-minute teen driving lesson.
“The coordinator approached me afterwards and said he was setting up a junior rallying championship because although there was already a British championship for juniors, there wasn’t one in Scotland.

“It kind of snowballed from there – when my dad moans at me now, saying I have to go and work on the car with him I do say, ‘Well, it is all your fault dad!”
Georgia lives at home in Catterall near Garstang with her mum (whose cakes go down very well at rally driving events), dad and 20-year-old brother.
She says, “My dad has always been a petrolhead, he has three motorbikes in the garage that have been a bit neglected since my Micra turned up.
“He tried to get my brother into it for a long time but he just wasn’t interested.”
As well as fitting in her studies in maths, English literature, history and music, Georgia is also part of the Motorsport Association Advanced Apprenticeship in Sporting Excellence.
The course, which looks at becoming an elite athlete in motorsport, leaves students with a NVQ qualification.
“You have your own nutritionist, psychologist, and a coaching mentor so it is very helpful,” says Georgia.
“The nutritionist helps to prepare you for rallying in hot countries because if you don’t maintain the right nutrition, racing can be dangerous.

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“Drivers have been known to pass out from dehydration in races and end up on a drip in hospital, all sorts. It’s an extreme sport really, it takes so much energy and physical strength.”
Though competing in events takes up most of Georgia’s time, luckily for her, the somewhat male-dominated world has provided some lifelong friends.
“It’s quite a small community, quite close knit so everyone knows everyone and you get to meet and know some amazing people.
“My co-driver is Chris Davies who is a well known international co-driver and he has become a very dear friend to me.”
Tipped as being, “one to watch” by Jimmy McRae, Scottish rally car driver and father of both World Rally Championship driver Alister McRae, and the late 1995 World Rally Champion Colin McRae, Georgia looks destined for big things.
Many of her critics have commented on the way she puts on a “show” for spectators.
I’m very brave,” she says, “some people can’t determine whether it’s bravery or stupidity but I like to think I’m brave.
“I just love everything about rally driving – the highs and the lows.
“When David Lee Owen, the former British Champion drove my car that was pretty amazing.
“I would love to become a World Rally Champion, but I think that’s most rally drivers’ dream really, I’d quite like to make it to Europe in a few year’s time.
“It’s difficult to say where I’m going to go from here but I have high expectations.”

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