WITH sponsors willing to throw money behind the first team that puts a competitive female race driver on the track in the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship (V8 Supercars main game if you like), the focus on women in motor sport is certainly on the rise (expect Swiss Formula E and Indycar ace Simona de Silvestro to claim that honour).
So for 23-year-old racer Emily Duggan, who dreams of a full time drive in the Supercars Championship, there’s plenty to focus on.
Not only is she a potential future Supercars Championship racer, she’s also in her debut season in the Kumho Tyre V8 Touring Car Series (a Supercars feeder series), having learnt her race craft racing Hyundai Excels, where she’s somewhat of a dominant force, recently winning the Series X3 NSW endurance race.
Committed to the sport she loves, Emily believes focus and fitness are among the keys to racing success, and having trained for two months in the lead up to the hotly contested and grueling Excel endurance race, she’s glad she did.
“I wanted to know my first lap and last lap were going to be the same, that I could be focused and consistent,” she said.
Ironically, while maintaining focus and remembering every facet of her race craft is the key to success according to Emily, she says it was never more evident in what she calls her biggest stuff up, and one of her best learning experiences.
“I was at my first race meeting, and in my third race for the day [running in the Excel development series which ran alongside the main Excel series], and I was running in second, or at least that’s what I thought. Little did I know the actual development series leader was running with the main guys. I passed another driver and thought I was in first. All these things went through my head… “It’s my first meeting. I’m going to win.” I forget to brake at the end of the final turn and run off the road, and ended up finishing tenth.”
While she can laugh about it now, she says it was not only her biggest stuff up, but also a lesson well learnt about focusing on your race, all the way to the end.
With three seasons under her belt in the Excel category, the talented racer who hails from Dural in Sydney’s north west, has stepped her racing career up a gear to enter the Kumho Tyre V8 Touring Car Series this year.
“I just love cars. It’s not necessarily the speed though, but the car control that I love,” Emily said. “I knew I’d love racing, but once you’re on the track with the car, you fall so hard. You won’t find me away from the track now.”
Open to EB to FG Ford Falcons and VP to VE/VE-II Holden Commodores, the Kumho race series is built around de-registered Ford and Holden V8 Supercars. Emily’s car, which is campaigned by R Sport, is in fact the ex-Perkins Engineering/Kelly Racing Commodore which debuted at the 2009 Clipsal 500 in the hands of Rick Kelly.
When not racing, Emily is either spectating at other motor racing events, in the gym or working on her mental preparation, and says she does a lot of ‘in-car’ learning.
“Any advantage you can get is important, with the closeness of cars, particularly in a series like the V8s, it’s more about the driver and the experience. You see that in each race and qualifying,” she said.
The next round of the Kumho Tyre Australian V8 Touring Car Series will be held at Phillip Island in Victoria from September 9-11.
Emily will also race her Excel this weekend (August 20) at Sydney Motorsport Park.