Monday 26 June 2017

Nicole is loving life in the fast lane as the only woman in Touring Car racing

At 22 Drought is the first woman to be a Motorsport Ireland /Sport Ireland Young Driver of the Year nominee

As the only woman competing in the Irish Touring Car Championship, Nicole Drought (22) is a racing driver with an impressive CV.

She is the first woman to be nominated for a Motorsport Ireland/Sport Ireland Young Driver of the Year award and the first to be selected as the Irish ambassador for the Sean Edwards Foundation.

Drought is also a member of the Murphy Prototypes Young Driver Programme.

Here, she has taken time out of her busy schedule to answer a few questions:

What inspired you to pursue a career in motor sport?

My father rallied and raced for years and I was his biggest fan. Even as a young girl, my dream was to become a professional race driver.

What was your first memory of motor sport racing?

Dad coming home with a new rally car and discovering that it was not eligible for the events he wanted to enter, so we brought it out testing anyway. When he was actually competing in a rally, my "job" was to wash the car when it came back to service during the event - a task I took very seriously.

Did you face any difficulties getting into the sport and, if so, how did you overcome them?

Motor racing is an expensive sport and initially I had to save for a long time to buy my first car. In recent times, I have been lucky enough to enjoy commercial backing, which takes the pressure off and allows me to concentrate on my driving. In 2016, for example, Gem Oils, IT Monkey and Stapleton's Bakery all backed my Irish Touring Car Championship campaign.

Who is your favourite driver of all time?

It would have to be Ayrton Senna.

Have you ever found an issue with being a woman in the world of motor sport?

Well, there are not too many of us competing and any issues that might arise can be balanced against the promotional gains and subsequent commercial backing.

What advice would you give an aspiring female driver?

That's easy - go for it. Get good management and push for backing as soon as possible.

What was it like becoming the first woman to be nominated for the Motorsport Ireland/Irish Sports Council Young Driver of the Year award?

It was incredible and completely unexpected. On reflection, it made me take the sport a lot more seriously. It is great that Motorsport Ireland and Sport Ireland recognise the best young drivers in the country and give them backing - both financial and in terms of personal fitness.

Who has been your biggest inspiration so far?

Probably my manager Leo Nulty. He has helped me with driver training and managed all of my commercial deals and PR.

Who do you most admire in your industry?

Susie Wolff, the former Formula One test driver for Williams.

What has been your biggest achievement to date?

My first Irish Tour Car Championship win was great but in my first Global GT race in the UK in June, I qualified second overall on a track I had never raced on, so I was really pleased with that.

What is the ultimate dream for your career?

I would love to be an LMP2 driver and race in the European Le Mans Series and ultimately complete at the world famous Le Mans 24 Hour Race!

What do you love about racing?

The speed, the skill required, the competitive element and, of course, the adrenaline rush.

What car do you currently drive on track?

I raced a 250bhp Honda Integra in 2016 but also made my Global GT Lights debut and will more than likely race them again in 2017.

Is there an historic or a modern racing car you would really like to drive?

I would love to try a Jordan F1 car, either the original 191 or one of the later Benson & Hedges cars - or maybe a Le Mans Prototype Oreca.

What cars would be parked in your EuroMillions garage?

Sebastien Loeb's WRC Citroen C4, a Jordan F1 car and a Porsche 911 GT3 RS.

What is your favourite racing venue and why?

Going to Le Castellet in France to test a GT3 Porsche was amazing, but my favourite would have to be Anglesey Circuit in North Wales. It is a proper drivers' circuit with a mixture of fast corners and slower technical sections.

What can we look forward to in 2017 from you?

The plan is to get as much seat time as possible before a switch to sports cars.

We are currently working on a winter testing programme and will also be doing some simulator work with Murphy Prototypes. I will also be testing sports cars in France before the start of the season.

We know how talented you are behind the wheel, but what other talents do you have that we don't know about?

I captained a Camogie team to an all-Ireland title and also won various musical awards before I took up motor racing.

Do you have a personal philosophy?

I do. "If at first you don't succeed, try, try, and try again."

Describe yourself in one word.

Driven.

Sunday Independent

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