Monday, 9 June 2008

It's a Mann's World

This weekend I went to Silverstone to support a local World Renault Series driver...

Pippa Mann is from Ipswich, she's 23 and she's the only woman driver in the league that feeds into the Formula One championship.

I covered the race for Town 102 because she's a local girl... plus, it was a nice chance to report on something other than football.

Here's the package I put together for them which went on air today:

Pippa's been driving since thirteen, when she competed in Go-Karting competitions. By the age of nineteen she was driving for one of the top karting teams.

In 2007 she joined the Renault World Series and became the first female driver to earn points in that league.

This weekend she started the first race from 23rd place. As she says in the interview her tyres weren't right and it was a struggle for her to keep the car on the track at all.

But she managed to overtake one driver and with others dropping or crashing out of the race she finished 19th, leaving her 20th on the grid for the second race.

That's the one I attended.

Silverstone was not what I expected at all.

Being a seasoned football fan I thought it would be a beautiful, modern circuit with modern stands around it and maybe some hospitality suites for the VIPs.

But the seating areas... were the grass. And the VIP bit was a tent connected to her truck.

And do you know what? I think it was great!

There were so many people around (10, 000 apparently), and I started to feel bad for my stubborn addiction to the beautiful game. I'd never heard of the World Series before I was offered the opportunity to go there, but its worth a peep trust me.

Its an open race, no driver has won more than two races so far this season, and with less money than the Formula One the teams have to work even harder on their cars.

Its free to go and see, so check it out!

Anyway, back to the race.

Pippa spent her time battling with Brit Duncan Tappy. He was on her tail for the most of the race but she held him off well.

At one point she actually managed to lose him, catching up with the 19th place car. But another fault with the car saw her drop back.

Actually, it meant the dying seconds were the most exciting part of the race as she pulled right over to the inside to stop Tappy nipping past and held him off as she headed over the finish line.

The reaction at the camp was one of pride for her. She'd raced well, especially considering the severe heat yesterday.

She's now 25th in the league (of 26....) but it's only half way through the season so I'll be rooting for her to pick up a few more points.

I talked to her for a bit about my favourite topic, the treatment of Women in Sport. She says she's used to being the only girl in a man's world:

Pippa's next race is in Hungary on the 5th July, so good luck Pippa - give me something to think about while there's no footie!

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