The northern Portuguese qualifying competition for the ‘Girls on Track-Karting Challenge’, held in association with FIA Women in Motorsport, the European Union and Federação Portuguesa de Automobilismo e Karting (FPAK) was hosted by the Automóvel Club de Portugal (ACP) for around 150 girls at Exponor on Tuesday.
Run as part of the FIA’s ‘European Young Women Programme’ and co-funded by the European Commission with support from Yokohama, qualifying heats or ‘Urban Slalom Events’ will also be staged this year in seven other European countries - Finland, Poland, Germany, Belgium, Netherlands, Slovakia and Sweden - and the top three from each ASN will go forward to the finals in Le Mans on March 8-10, 2019.
The northern Portuguese heats were coordinated by FPAK and there will be southern heats in Lisbon on June 2. Tuesday’s heats at Exponor were held in the presence of ACP Motorsport President Mario Martins da Silva, FIA Motorsport Conference and Project Director Frédérique Trouvé and Portugal’s Moto2 GP star Miguel Oliveira.
“This programme has the objective of bringing more girls into motor sport,” said Rute Vieira, event co-ordinator and PR and Marketing Manager at FPAK. “The FIA will carry out this programme in eight EU countries during this year with girls between 13 and 18 years of age. They take part in a karting challenge and the best three from each country will go forward to the finals in Le Mans.
“The girls carry out some basic training and then they go forward to the race track to do one single lap. The fastest three girls then qualify.”
The finals at Le Mans will then determine six outright winners and the chosen half dozen will then pass through FIA Driver Training Camps for a few weeks where they will learn to become drivers. Budding racers that shine at the training camps may then be included in FIA Championships in the future.
The ‘Girls on Track-Karting Challenge’ supported by the European Union was launched on International Women’s Day at the Geneva Motor Show in March in the presence of FIA President Jean Todt and Michèle Mouton, President of the FIA Women in Motorsport Commission.