Is this the start of a bright career in motorsport?
11-year-old Alyx Coby is already racing against boys five years her senior in the Motorsport Ireland Karting Championship. The racing bug runs in her family, and she took to the track for the first time at the tender age of seven.
Three seasons on, she has advanced to the IAME X30 Junior Class, where she is the youngest driver on the grid. Alyx very kindly gave up some of her time to tell us more about how she fell in love with the sport and her karting career so far.
How did you discover your passion for motorsport?
I have been around the karting world for as long as I can remember. My dad, Gary, used to race when he was younger and my uncle Aaron still races. I grew up travelling the country weekend after weekend to watch them race so it was probably inevitable that I would end up racing too.
How did you get into karting?
In 2012 I took part in some testing days on the day before the Championship races. I was only 7 at the time so wasn’t old enough to take part in the races, but it was a great introduction and helped me get used to the kart before entering the Championship in 2013.
My first race was in February 2013 with the Irish Karting Club. I was nervous, but excited too. My race number was 99 which is the same number my dad used when he raced so it was great to keep the tradition going. I finished 7th in the heats and 9th in the final, which wasn’t a bad result for my first race since all the drivers ahead of me had raced the previous year.
Tell us about the series you are currently racing in.
I race in the Motorsport Ireland Karting Championship. This is the national championship in Ireland. I started racing when I was 8 in Cadets and after racing for three years have I moved up to the IAME X30 Junior class for 2016. This is a much bigger and faster kart and I am still getting used to the extra speed and power. I’m the only girl on the grid in my class, and also the youngest driver at 11, racing against boys as old as 16.
The kart has a 28 horsepower IAME engine and will do about 100 km/h.
A race weekend usually consists of a practice day on Saturday and on Sunday we start with an official practice session followed by two qualifying heats and two finals. There are 18 races over 9 weekends during the season and the best 16 results over the season count towards the final championship position. The races take place at five different race tracks across Ireland so there is a lot of travelling involved too.
What are your major achievements?
In my first year I won two novice finals.
In my second year I won one qualifying heat and was on the podium a few times.
In my third year I won three finals and set six fastest laps. I also finished in fifth place in the championship.
Last season I became the first female driver to win a national final at cadet level in Ireland. I was also awarded the Irish Karting Club’s John Brennan Award for sportsmanship.
What are you most proud of?
The thing I am proudest of is how much I improved as a driver last over the last year. I always knew I had what it took to be competitive, but I never really had a chance to show it in my first two seasons – there was always something that didn’t go my way.
Last year I started off well and set the fastest lap at the opening two rounds of the championship and at the third round I finished in second place in the two heats. I then followed this up by winning both finals on the day and went on to win another final at the next round.
Why do you love karting so much?
One of the things I enjoy most about karting is getting to spend a lot of time with my dad. He runs our race team so we spend a lot of time together, just the two of us, travelling to races, going testing, working on the kart in the workshop and even just talking about races afterwards. My family also come to every race so it is a family day out too.
I really love the speed. It is hard to explain to anybody who has not experienced it for themselves. There’s nothing like it and it is so much fun.
Karting has made me tougher and more determined and winning my first few races gave me more confidence in myself, that I could do anything if I put my mind to it. Being around older drivers has also helped me to be more mature than a lot of girls my age.
What is your ultimate dream for your motorsport career?
When I’m older I would love to race cars and who knows, maybe go all the way to F1, but for now karting is all I think about and all I want to do is go out and race. My main ambition at the minute is to win the Motorsport Ireland Karting Championship (at least once!)
I also hope to take part in the IAME World Karting Finals at Le Mans in France this October. I went to watch my uncle compete last year and it was an amazing experience. I would really love to race there myself against some of the best drivers in the world.
Who are your heroes?
My dad is my racing hero. People at the track are always telling me they remember him racing when he was younger and tell me stories about when they raced against him so I really want to be as good as he was.
Is there a historic (or modern!) racing car you’d really like to drive?
My dad and Grandad are always talking about how good the karts were and how close the racing was in the old days! It might be fun to drive an old Formula A or JIKA kart to see what they were like. My favourite car is the Fiat 500 so maybe I could race one of those somewhere.
Are you a fan of any other motorsport series? Do you have any favourite drivers or teams?
I love Formula 1 and usually watch the races with my Dad. My favourite driver is Sebastian Vettel. I think Lewis Hamilton is a great driver, but I’m not a fan of how he acts off the track.
If you could interview any motorsport figure, who would it be and why?
Ayrton Senna. I wasn’t born when he was alive, but my dad talks about him a lot and we see his old races on TV now and again. There is so much I could learn from talking to him.
Anything else you think we should know?
When I’m not racing I like to paint and also bake cookies and cupcakes for my friends. I recently joined a karate club as a way to help build up my fitness to prepare for the new season with the new kart. I’m really enjoying it and am working my way through the belts.
Where can people see you competing this year?
I’ll be competing all year in the Motorsport Ireland Karting Championship. The next round is May 15th at Nutts Corner. There’s a full calendar on my web page: www.alyxcoby.com/Calendar
You can follow Alyx’s adventures here:
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