The new GB4 season is less than 70 days away, with drivers and up and down the country, and further afield, busy putting plans in place ahead of hopeful campaigns in 2024.
Amongst the drivers looking to establish a career in motorsport are a rising crop of female contenders, with several already taking advantage of winter testing opportunities since the 2023 season ended in October.
At least eight are known to have tested GB4 machinery since the Donington Park season finale in October, across six different teams, all looking to follow in the footsteps of Megan Gilkes, Chloe Grant, Logan Hannah, Jessica Edgar and Lexie Belk, who have all raced in GB4, with Gilkes and Hannah both winning races in 2022.
In part one of our feature on aspiring female GB4 contenders, we’re catching up with three of the drivers who have already tested or raced cars and are evaluating a possible move into the series this year.
The 2022 Total Karting Zero Champion, experienced a GB4 car at Snetterton in November, and is aiming to join the grid ahead of the new season having greatly enjoyed her first taste of single-seater driving.
“It was a very liberating experience, I learned what it felt like to have pure speed and a well-engineered piece of machinery under my fingertips” she commented.
“It’s a great championship and we see it as a pathway to continue my motorsport career, and hopefully gain support to raise awareness for my name and make me known within the sport.
“I want to be the first female F1 world champion, and I’m willing to try anything to make that happen” added the 15-year-old, who finished fourth in the Daniel Ricciardo Series UK Championship in 2023.
The advent of the F1 Academy series, in which GB4 graduate Jessica Edgar was a race winner last year, has opened up new career opportunities for drivers such as Daniella, and she reckons that GB4 is the ideal pathway to F1’s newest category.
“If I raced in GB4, it would show people I mean business, and to the right people too. This would mean that possibly the F1 Academy becomes an available route to take, which is the main goal currently.”
The newly-turned 17-year-old entered the final round of the 2023 season as a privateer with her family-run team, and came close to securing a top-10 finish in her first weekend. She’s expecting to return for 2024, having gained good experience across the event.
“I entered the last round of GB4 at Donington Park mainly for experience racing alongside other GB4 cars and to get an insight of what the paddock atmosphere and racing itself was like” she said.
“As privateers, we needed to get a good understanding of how a GB4 race weekend ran so that we are well prepared for next season.
“There was nothing but smiles all weekend. Being privateers, we knew we were on the back foot competing against the top teams but everyone in the paddock was so welcoming, friendly and extremely helpful. It was an amazing weekend filled with highs and lows, but overall it was an incredible experience.”
Having raced mainly in tin tops before her single-seater debut, Belk is aiming to use GB4 as a stepping stone, with a view to competing in the UK’s leading single-seater category.
“I’m aiming to be racing in GB4 in 2024, and afterwards I hope to take the step into GB3 if the opportunity arises.”
Like Belk, Megan Bruce has taken the opportunity to buy a GB4 car, and is seriously considering a move into the series this season, having tested her car with Fox Motorsport at Donington Park in November.
“For me, GB4 is a great and more affordable championship for single-seaters,” she says. “It’s highly recognised and competitive, which is an important part for any future plans.”
Given she owns the car, she’s looking highly likely to join the grid this year, as she looks to graduate from Caterham racing.
“I’m serious about this option, so having my GB4 car makes it easier when planning test days for this year.
“There’s a big difference between the two cars; the major thing I’ve found is the grip in a GB4 car is massively different to my Caterham Academy car which slides a lot! The grip around high speed corners feels insane, as well as the incredible speeds as to what I’m used to, with everything coming at you that little bit faster.”
Megan is also hoping that potential success in GB4 could lead to opportunities in the F1 paddock going forward.
“Success in GB4 would ideally lead to F1 Academy. It’s highly competitive and recognised by some of the big F1 teams, which would benefit to progress further into my career.”
Part two of our feature will follow later this week.