Bristol girl, 14, crowned champion at junior karting championships

Lauren Dunleavy is the first girl to win this trophy in the championship’s 25 year history
14-year-old Lauren Dunleavy with her trophies at Castle Combe race track14-year-old Lauren Dunleavy with her trophies at Castle Combe race track
14-year-old Lauren Dunleavy with her trophies at Castle Combe race track

A Bristol teenager is celebrating after becoming ‘rookie champion’ at the Junior Karting Championships.

Lauren Dunleavy is the first girl to win this trophy in the championship’s 25 year history. Lauren, 14, started karting two years ago but only entered her first championships at the end of 2022.

Over several months, Lauren has competed across ten rounds of the Castle Combe championship to secure the most points to win the ‘rookie trophy as well a trophy for highest scoring female.

The championship, run by DriveTech, is based at the world-famous Castle Combe race track in Wiltshire and attracts over 70 entrants every year. This year, there were 32 ‘rookie’ or ‘new’ entrants, six of whom were girls, all hoping to win a place on the podium.

Drivetech’s Luke Cooper said: “This year has been one of the most competitive years we’ve ever run. In her first season racing in the championship, Lauren has really stood out, putting in some very impressive results finishing in the top 10 five times, taking best place of fourth in round nine and winning the rookie championship.”

Inspired by a chance encounter with professional female driver Jamie Chadwick at the Castle Combe track, Lauren’s ultimate dream is to drive at Formula 1 level.

For now she hopes to continue at Castle Combe next season but also to try faster ‘race’ karts which will allow her to gain her race licence so she can compete at a higher level.

Competing at the higher level comes with a higher price tag as well as higher speed so she hopes to find sponsorship to allow her to achieve this.

Lauren said: “I’m excited to try faster karts as well as electric karts. I’m trying to learn as much as I can, as quickly as possible to be in with a chance to compete at Formula 1 or Formula E level when I’m older.”

The UK’s motorsports governing body recently announced a new Academy Programme to support girls and to help decrease the gender bias that exists within the world of motorsports. MotorsportUK hope to seek out and encourage female talent between the ages 8-12 to help decrease the current disparity that exists. At the moment only 5% of senior race licence holders are women.

Lauren’s mum, Ingrid, said: “It’s a real shame that at the age of 14, Lauren won’t be able to make use of the new scheme but we’re hoping that with a combination of talent, sponsorship support and luck, Lauren can still progress quickly through the ranks.

“It’s great that women are finally getting a look-in in a sport which has traditionally been male-dominated. We shouldn’t even be talking about it. It shouldn’t be an issue.”

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