| 8.7°C Belfast

Racy Russian glamour model Inessa Tushkanova dons racing suit for Circuit of Ireland

Glamour model by night - rally driver by day.

Meet Inessa Tushkanova who is taking time out of her modelling career in Russia to compete in the Circuit of Ireland in Belfast later this year.

Inessa has appeared uncovered in lads' magazines such as Playboy and FHM. Away from her erotic photo shoots, however, the 28-year-old has a passion for fast cars which she channels into rally driving.

In fact, she describes herself as a professional racing driver and says she uses her modelling career and jobs like Playboy to help fund her passion .

"Nobody likes women in racing sport, which is traditionally dominated by men, because it's easier for us to attract sponsors," she said. "This magazine [Playboy] is prestigious enough and helps with PR."

Even her father was sceptical when she started out, feeling rallying was not for women. But Inessa was determined and moved to Moscow because she felt there were better opportunities to progress her rally career in Russia.

Initially, it didn't go well and she recalls missing her start time for her first rally when she overslept and turned up with her T-shirt back to front and her co-driver still in her pyjamas.

But Inessa has progressed since then and the move to Moscow has seen her competing in the Russia Cup, the Finnish championship and central European rallies with a fair degree of success.

In the past two seasons she has aimed higher, moving up to the European championship where, last month, she recorded strong points' finishes in the Ladies' Cup and in the ERC2 category on Rally Liepaja in snowy Latvia. It was won overall by Ireland's Craig Breen.

Now Inessa has set her sights on the Circuit of Ireland and plans to be in Belfast at Easter with a brand new car.

"I am working on my visa for Ireland and hope to be there," she told the European championship's official website. "We get a new Mitsubishi Evo X for that event, but I haven't seen the new car yet as I've been so busy."

Circuit of Ireland director Bobby Willis confirmed the glamour model has been in touch and he is expecting her entry to arrive shortly.

"She has been in touch via email requesting details and asking about visas for her team," he confirmed. "All the relevant information has been sent back to her and all being well she should be here for the rally."

Inessa is expected to join another glamorous name in the starting list. Idris Elba, TV star of Luther and The Wire, will also be competing as part of a Discovery Channel documentary on speed sports.

Belfast Telegraph