Wrc.com caught up with the 22-year-old as she prepares to take on her 17 rivals in the eagerly anticipated young driver series.
The first event of the new-for-2011 FIA WRC Academy is about to start. Are you ready?
“Well I’m as ready as I’m ever going to be. Sure there’s a million things you always want to do but we’ve worked as had as we can and we’ll take it as it comes.”
You had a test in Faro on Wednesday evening. Did that go according to plan?
“For us it was just a shakedown. The tyres we used come out of our allocation for the rally so we just did a couple of runs to check there were no problems with the car, which we had to save for the rally.”
Are you familiar with your Ford Fiesta R2 yet?
“I definitely still have more to learn on the car but we’ve had some time so hopefully it should get better.”
You’re one of the six Pirelli Star Drivers competing in the Academy. Are you under more or less pressure knowing that you don’t have to think about finding the budget to compete?
“At the moment I’m trying to focus on finding some funds to do testing so I’m more prepared for the WRC events. I’m always trying to find more finance to get more experience but for sure without the support from the FIA and Pirelli there’s no way I would have had the funds to make this happen. It’s a massive opportunity for me.”
Are more people showing an interest in your career on the back of your Pirelli Star Driver nomination?
“For sure it helps to raise the profile but how much I won’t really know until Portugal gets underway.”
You’ve singled out Michele Mouton as your inspiration. What have you learned from her so far?
“As a driver she’s been there and done it all. She knows how to approach everything correctly and having her as a contact is invaluable.”
Does the female driver tag bother you?
“It’s going to happen, people are going to say what they want and there’s nothing you can do about it. As long as it doesn’t affect my preparation or my focus then it really doesn’t bother me.”
You’ve got a new co-driver in Rebecca Smart this year. How is it working out?
“We did the first round of the British championship together but we’ve still got to learn together and work on our pace notes so this is just a learning year. It’s the first round and we can’t expect everything to happen at once. We’ll use the experience and improve.”
When you’re not competing you work for M-Sport, the factory Ford rally team. What’s your role there?
“I work on sales of Super 2000 Fiestas for the customer teams so it’s rallying 24/7 for me in terms of working and competing. I’m lucky about getting time off because at least they understand what I’m doing.”
Turning back to Portugal, from doing the recce what do you think of the stages?
“They’re a lot more tricky and technical than anticipated. A lot goes into writing the notes and they seemed to flow all right on the recce. I’ve done more rallies on gravel so I’m more comfortable on that surface.”
And in terms of a result, what can you achieve?
“It’s hard to say because we’re competing against drivers from so many different backgrounds. We need to put our heads down and as long as Rebecca and I are improving there’s nothing more we can do.”