Girl Racer: Susanne Gutzold

Age: 15

From: Douglas, Isle of Man

Started Karting: Age 9, 2010

When was your first race: I began karting in Honda Cadets in the year of my 10th birthday and my first race was in the Isle of Man’s Summer Championship in 2010.

What series do you currently race in: I currently compete in the Junior TKM Super One Series and occasionally do a JTKM club round, plus the TKM Festival and Shenington Super Prix.

Have you won any races: I won a lot of club meetings in Honda Cadet but none in JTKM yet; closest I’ve come is a 3rd at the TKM Festival Final in 2013, 3rd at a club round in Shenington, 4th in Round 5 of Super One in Rissington in 2014.

How did you get into it: My older brother started karting 2 years before me at our local track on the Isle of Man and I watched him every time he raced. I was eager to start myself, but I was too small to have a go in corporate karts, so I jumped straight into my brother’s kart when he moved up a class. I was unsure whether I’d like it or not, but after my first test: I loved it!

At first I found it difficult, but I learnt and improved quickly, and came 3rd in the Isle of Man club championship in my first year of competing in 2010 and won best female driver. I followed that with a 2nd place overall in my second year, missing out on the win by a few points and not competing in all rounds. However racing at my local club wasn’t challenging enough for me, so I decided to race at club level in the UK, highlight being the win in Honda Cadets at the Super Prix in Shenington in 2011. I loved competing in the bigger grids and the closer racing so much that my family and I decided to race regularly in the UK. My next move was to make the jump from Honda Cadet to Junior TKM in 2012, which was a big one and at first it was very difficult learning a different driving style, especially with the direct drive and much greater power of the TKM. I also started competing in Super One against drivers older and far more experienced than myself. Races were a lot more competitive and the racing a lot tighter, no room for mistakes. At the beginning I didn’t have the speed and race craft to keep up with the majority of my competitors, in fact I only finished 1 out of 4 races at my first meeting in Junior TKM. Living in the Isle of Man brings another challenge too because travel takes longer and is a lot more expensive, so unfortunately I cannot compete as often as I would like. But I worked hard over the years and with great support from my team, Flex Motorsport, my mechanic, parents and people around me I have raced to a number of top ten finishes in Super One in 2013 and 2014. My career highlights include gaining 13 places in the TKM Festival Cup Pre-final in 2012 going from 16th to 3rd, qualifying 4th at Shenington Super One in 2013, 3rd in the TKM Festival Cup Final 2013 and a 4th at Rissington Super One 2014. I won both the Karting and Junior trophies with the British Womens Racing Drivers Club in 2013 which I’m very proud of.

If I started again, I would probably not have raced at a small local club for so long but have gone racing in bigger grids in the UK earlier. Although the racing is harder you learn a lot more and only racing with the best will make you on of the best! I would also start earlier because most of my competitors have raced at least 2 years longer than me, which sometimes gives them the upper hand in situations where experience is key.

Although sometimes racing can be slightly frustrating, especially when you get bumped off the track in the first corner with no fault of your own, I still absolutely love it, the faster the better. I hope to find some sponsorship for next season and my next aim is to win a round of Super One, so watch this space …