Belfast Telegraph

Meet the women putting the va va vroom into the Circuit of Ireland

BY CLAIRE WILLIAMSON

Meet the women who keep the top rally drivers on the right track.

Belfast City Hall was transformed in to a race track last night as the Circuit of Ireland revved into action.

Against a backdrop of high-powered race cars, the world-famous event shifted into gear for round four of the FIA European Rally.

But in a sport dominated by men these are the co-drivers who are flying the checkered flag for female petrol heads.

Cathy Derousseaux from Nice in France has been a professional co-driver for the past four years.

"I would like to say 80% of the men right now are still macho and think that motorsport is just for men," she said.

"But you can ask some drivers now and they only want women co-drivers because we are much more precise.

"We are much more professional in the way we want everything to be perfect, we are perfectly organised and we do a good job. And we are lighter in the car –which is important."

But while Cathy loves what she does she said there is a lot of pressure on the co-driver.

"We have all the responsibility on our shoulders if we crash. It is almost our fault because you can't be late and you can't be early in the notes.

"Of course something can happen if it's a crash but most of the time unfortunately it's the co-drivers fault."

Claire Mole from Scotland has been a co-driver for the past 20 years.

She said: "It's my job to make sure we get the car to the right place at the right time at precisely the right minute.

"I think us women are really organised and it's like a secretary in the car.

"You aren't allowed a sat nav in the car so you have to be able to read a map.

"I think it's a misconception that most women can't – I think they just don't try hard enough."

Young and old had the opportunity to meet their racing heroes. Among them was Dungannon driver Kris Meeke, who said: "It's incredible. Belfast is buzzing at the moment and it's great for this to be a part of it.

"It's pretty special to have this happening on your doorstep."

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