Katie McDonnell from Loreto on the Green talks us through her experience of the Go Girls program and how the opportunity has impacted her future.
"I had very little experience in Motorsport before attending the Go Girls program but once I heard
about this opportunity I was immediately interested. I had done some rental karting with my
Dad before and I knew I loved to race, but other than that I knew very little about karting"
Once Katie heard about the program through her school, she immediately signed up with her friends.
"It was an opportunity to not only learn more about the sport that I was so curious about but it would allow me to compete against others my age, to see how good I was and If I would be good enough to progress to the next round"
Katie attended the Go Girls experience day with 30 of her school friends at Whiteriver Karting park in Co. Louth and her competitiveness and curiosity immediately shone through as she completely immersed in all aspects of the day.
"Overall, I really enjoyed the Go Girls experience day. Getting to go with all my friends, I had no idea what to expect, but it was so much better than I could have ever imagined. The STEM workshop was so interesting. Learning about the mechanics of a kart and how to find the racing line, the quickest path around the track really helped me to improve my lap times on the track"
"There is so much involved to the performance side of the sport and I was just taking it all in. ?it made me so much more aware of how to get the best out of the kart"
Katie topped the time sheets 0.5seconds clear of any of her class mates which put her straight through to the Leinster Provincial Karting competition. Competing against 30 other competitors from 6 different schools in Leinster, Katie's time over a single lap continued to lead the way as she set the fastest lap of the day out of 30 drivers and finished 2nd in the final to advance to the Go Girls Academy.
The Go Girls Academy supports the most talented drivers to compete in the Motorsport Ireland Tillotson T4 karting championship and provides an opportunity to get started in competitive karting.
"I was absolutely delighted to make it through to the Go Girls Academy, it was something that was really important to me as I wanted to take this opportunity as far as I possibly could. My goal was to make it to the Tillotson T4 races because I really wanted to see what it was like to drive an actual race kart and to compete alongside other competitive drivers"
Following a number of testing days to adapt to the increased speed and movement of the kart, Katie competed in her first ever race in the Motorsport Ireland Tillotson T4 regional race at Watergrasshill in Co. Cork on the 31st of July.
It was an impressive debut for Katie who improved her times considerably as the day went on, closing the gap between to the front runners to be within 4 tenths of a second by the end of the day. A really impressive performance that didn't go unnoticed in the T4 paddock.
"All in all, I feel like I have learned a great deal from this experience. Yes, my racing skills
have improved immensely but I have also walked away with more knowledge of the sport in
general and gained more confidence in myself. Going into the Tillotson T4 races, I wasn’t sure
if I would have the nerve to actually race against the other drivers but I think I really
surprised myself by overtaking when I could and making sure I didn’t give up my position
easily when other drivers were attacking".
Having surprised herself and her Dad with her performance over the weekend and her adaptability to karting, Katie sets her sights on the future.
"I would give anything to continue racing in the future, however I am aware that it is a huge
commitment not just for me but for my family as well. I think this opportunity has also made
my Dad realise how much he loves the sport too, which gives me hope that he will help me
to progress in the sport and with a bit of luck continue racing in the future".
Katie has been a super competitor and member of the Go Girls program this year. She is an example of making the most of an opportunity, challenging herself to learn new skills and discovering new talents about herself. Reflecting on the whole experience of the Go Girls program, Katie highlights just how important this program is for providing such a unique opportunity for young girls.
"I’m so glad that I got the chance to participate in the Go Girls program this year. It was
without a doubt the highlight of my transition year experience. I think it’s really important that
the Go Girls program continues to run next year as it’s an amazing opportunity for young
girls my age to show everyone that we belong in motorsport too. I know that there is so
much talent out there that just hasn't been discovered yet."
We hope to see Katie back behind the wheel in the Tillotson T4 very soon and wish her all the best in her future endeavours.
A big thank you to all those who have helped and supported the Go Girls Academy especially Peter McBride, Stapleton Motorsport and Nigel Johnston from Tillotson Racing.