Hot on the heels of NASCAR star Danica Patrick's history making performance in last month's Daytona 500 and the recent confirmation of Susie Wolff as third driver of the Williams F1 Team, Australia now has its own fast female set to make an impact in motorsport, and she will be on track at the 2013 FORMULA 1® Rolex Australian Grand Prix.
At just 18, Queensland's Renee Gracie is making history in Australian motorsport as the first female to compete in Porsche Carrera Cup Australia. Gracie debuted in the prestigious all-Porsche championship at this month’s Clipsal 500 and is already being earmarked as the most likely female driver to ultimately break into the ranks of V8 Supercars.
Gracie is making the unprecedented step up to the exotic German thoroughbreds from karting, where she competed among Australia’s best for the last five years. In the past two years, Gracie was selected for the Fujitsu “Cool” Driver Program, the premier youth development initiative in Australian motorsport. Fujitsu has facilitated Gracie’s move into Porsche Carrera Cup as the naming rights sponsor of her stunning matte black and fluorescent pink Porsche.
Gracie will line up at Albert Park for the top-flight McElrea Racing outfit - one of the leading professional teams in both the Australian and Asian Carrera Cup series - as part of a star-studded field that includes four-time series champion Craig Baird, V8 Supercar veterans Steven Richards and Steven Johnson and a number of Australia’s fastest young up and coming drivers. It’s a prospect that most 18-year old Australians can only dream of.
"I’m thrilled to be racing at the Formula 1 Rolex Australian Grand Prix,” said Gracie. “It’s the biggest event in Australian motorsport and I’m expecting the atmosphere and crowd to be like nothing I’ve ever experienced.
“The circuit looks fantastic and there are so many fast sweeps where the Fujitsu Racing Porsche will be in its element. This will also be my first time at the Grand Prix itself, so I am sure I will get a buzz out of my first live experience of Formula 1® as well!”
While excited about her Albert Park debut, Gracie is realistic about the challenge that lies ahead. The young Queenslander is not expecting to stand on the podium just yet, but aims to continually improve her performance as she comes to grips with driving the 450bhp Carrera Cup beast, and in the strongest field in the series’ history.
“I know it’s a big step but my team have set realistic benchmarks for me. My main aims are to keep finding speed, work my way up the grid and earn the respect of the other drivers. I have a big challenge ahead of me, but the best chances in motorsport never come easy. I’m incredibly lucky to have been given this opportunity, now I’m ready to take it with both hands and make the most of it.”
Gracie and her Porsche Carrera Cup Australia rivals will compete in three 8-lap races over the course of the weekend, including the final support event before the FORMULA 1® Rolex Australian Grand Prix on Sunday.