Formula Female first met 15 year old Katelyn Osborne at a Go Girls event in February this year where her speed and comfort in a new environment immediately stood out. Since then, Katelyn has made the step into competitive karting, purchasing her own Tillotson T4 kart and competing in the Motorsport Ireland T4 and T4 Regional Series in the Junior category.
Katelyn Osborne from Athy in Co. Kildare is the first generation of her family to actively participate in Motorsport.
“My family have always been interested in watching F1 but never got into racing themselves so this is all very new to me and my family”
Katelyn admits that prior to getting started in the sport, she wasn’t sure whether Motorsport was even an option for a young girl like her. The only visibility of the sport she had at that point was watching Formula 1 where no female drivers currently compete.
“I didn’t think there was much hope for me because it is so male dominated, obviously I was wrong but starting out my perception of the sport was much different to what it is now”
The first time Katelyn was ever in a kart was in January 2022 before signing up to a Go Girls event which led to her experience in the Tillotson T4 competitive race kart.
The T4 series which launched in 2019, is designed to increase participation in karting by offering an affordable, user friendly kart package that provides an easy to learn and competitive experience for both new and seasoned drivers.
Katelyn reflects on the Go Girls event and the impact it had on her.
“The Go Girls day was actually the day that made me realise that I 100% wanted to race. Seeing so many girls there was incredible and made me realise that I wasn't alone and it was definitely possible to start racing as a girl. I definitely think having days like that can help girls get started in karting as that Go Girls day was the day I realised I could start karting”
It wouldn’t be long before that realisation really became a reality for Katelyn and within a couple of months she would be sitting on the grid in her very own T4 kart for her first ever competitive race.
“I originally thought it was odd for a girl to be in the sport. When buying my helmet and suit I made sure I didn't get a typical 'girl colour' so the other drivers wouldn't know I was a girl, but when I started racing I was proven wrong. Women deserve to be in the sport just as much as men and I definitely feel like I belong on that track every time I go out to race”
Competing in seven events throughout the year, Katelyn visited brand new tracks for the first time and enjoyed the challenge of learning all about this new adventure she was embarking on.
“My first year of competing was incredible, I loved every second of it. All the highs and the few lows have been amazing.”
The T4 Junior category is a popular category with over 22 young drivers including five female participants. Katelyn entered her first race in Kiltorcan Raceway in Kilkenny, securing a top 15 result on her debut. She would go on to progress in pace and results, setting top 10 fastest times and achieving top 10 finishes in her heats, but it was the final race of the year where Katelyn had her proudest moment when she finished 8th during a rain soaked final of the T4 Winter race in Kiltorcan.
“My best race of the year was 100% my most recent race, the winter race in Kiltorcan. I think it was my best race of the year because I worked for it going from 16th in the first heat to 8th in the final. I actually didn’t know where I had finished and pulled into the pits thinking it was somewhere around 12th when my dad shouts 8th. I was absolutely delighted. It was an amazing feeling. I had wanted a top 10 finish in a final so badly and I did it in the worst conditions possible. I was so happy”
Katelyn explains her biggest achievement this year is the progression she has made and is determined to set the bar even higher for next year to continue working her way to the front.
“Starting out this year I definitely didn't expect to be placing in the top 10 by my 7th race but I think all the training and desire I have to race really pushed me and is the reason I adapted so well. It has only made me more motivated for next year and I have set myself a goal to achieve my first podium. I know it will be a challenge but I am looking forward to it”
As a rookie to the sport for not only Katelyn but also for her Dad and her family, Katelyn appreciates the support her dad and family give her.
“Without my dad by my side none of this would of been possible. He has helped me with everything from finding a trailer to showing me racing lines to changing sprockets to motivational talks before races. Karting definitely allows me to spend more quality time with my dad, he's my biggest supporter and I wouldn't want anyone else by my side”
As Katelyn reflects on the year, she explains the importance of opening the sport up to young girls and some of the obstacles she encountered along the way.
“The Go Girls program is very important for opening the sport up to more girls because without it I wouldn't be here. It is a great way to encourage more girls to follow my path in karting and to make girls feel confident that they belong in the sport. I think that I would of benefited from having a way of communicating with other new drivers or potential drivers through a online group so we could support each other.
I think the biggest obstacle for people starting out like me, is the feeling like you don’t know what you are doing and everyone else does so you can sometimes feel lost, but my advice would be to remember that everyone was in your position at some stage and if you don't at least give it a go then you'll never achieve your goals"
Katelyn shares some advice for girls in a similar position to her looking to make the step into competitive karting.
“For any girls considering getting started in Karting I would advise you to look into the Go Girls program, but also to go to Karting events and meet people, ask questions and feel free to reach out to those already in the sport such as myself. I am more than happy to answer any questions or help in any way I can. If karting is something you are interested in, go for it, you won’t be disappointed”