Round 2: Rissington – 08/04/2017

The Super One Karting Championship started in March (Rowrah, 25/26th)! With her new number 2 plate, Abbi is competing for the win this year. Her class, Junior TKM, has 6 races throughout the year and on 8th April, I went to Round 2 at Rissington Kart Club in the Cotswolds.

Due to late developments and problems with equipment, I arrived at this event just before Abbi was to start heat 1. During qualifying, she earned 2nd spot on the grid meaning she will start 2nd for all 4 of her races throughout the weekend. After the rolling start, she went down to 6th due to a bit of trouble, but crawled back to 3rd during the lap. There was a continuous scrap for the lead within the top 3, and Abbi held 1st place for a while. But with a problem close to the end, she crossed the line a close 3rd place.

Heat 2 saw a problem, where another karter had gone off and the ambulance had to come across also (Motorsport is dangerous)! As the drivers waited patiently on the start line, they restarted the race and from there Abbi dominated in 1st place. Though, she had a problem with the carburetors on her last lap, meaning she was overtaken and finished a close 2nd.

I followed Abbi on and off track throughout the day, and you can clearly see how admired she is by others, in and out of the sport. Although, the camera followed and panned to her movements, I could still hear her name mentioned around me as she raced. In the engineers tents, I filmed as Abbi got a few visitors, including her Tal-ko sponsor, and head of media in Super One. They don’t have to check in, yet, they do when it comes to Abbi. They are ready to nurture her talent, and even caught “a potential Formula 1 driver in her.”

Both Abbi and Andy, as ever, are so lovely to be around, enthusiastic and passionate. Sunday saw Abbi dominate both races by finishing 1st and, therefore, now leads the Super One Championship!

Next up: Race 3 in Dorchester on 3-4th June!

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Autosport Show – 14/01/2017

The Autosport International Show at NEC Birmingham is one of the largest motorsport shows in Europe, and I had the pleasure to gain a media pass to document the event. Mainly to follow Abbi, we filmed her receive different awards and her interviews with other media peoples.

Our first stop was to the British Women’s Racing Driver’s Club Stand, where we met Lorraine Gathercole who is Vice Chair of the organisation. She then introduced us to the three nominees of the Gold Star Elite award: Trish Cecile-Pritchard, Kate Milner and Abbi Pulling! After a quick interview with the three of these (with our extremely limited equipment), we ran over to the MSA stand (Motorsport Association) to film the ceremony. Unfortunately, Abbi didn’t win, but the equally talented Kate Milner did and it was great to see Abbi nominated and recognised for her achievements in Super One.

The MSA also had a Karting Magazine presentation, where Abbi received an award also. After this, we head over to the Super One stand for the official award ceremonies, where we saw Abbi was given her trophy for coming second and her new “Number 2” plate, which she will ride with on her kart this year.

One thing we gained, is that Abbi had changed her tune a little from when I last spoke to her in September. She now is pursuing becoming a Formula 1 driver as her ultimate goal. This is an exciting new dynamic for the documentary!

The Super One season starts March, where we will be following Abbi during her racing season!

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Wyedean Rally – 12/11/2016

Up at the crack of dawn for a drive deep into the Forest of Dean, today was a first step into another segment of the documentary: Rallying. As well as following our main subject in the karting world, it’s equally important to show the world of rallying and the women competing there.

Firstly, Rallying is not circuit racing like F1, karting etc. It’s terrain focused, point A to point B timed driving and set out in stages. There are normally six stages per rally event, each different locations. Wyedean’s were all in the Forest of Dean, near a place called Mitcheldean and primarily gravel terrain.

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The driver we met with was Sara Williams, probably the most successful female rally driver in the UK right now, who has won events and can be spotted in her white and pink Subaru Impreza. After collecting our passes, she met us in the car park and chatted. The plan was to film stages 1 and 4 (once finished, she run the 2nd and 3rd stages straight after each other, and we wouldn’t have time to get to 2 and 3), but before going to number, we’d come back to the services during their hour break to do a short interview with her.

 

Watching and filming the rallying was one of the most fascinating and coolest moments of my life so far. My crew wasn’t sure what rallying was until this point, and I’d told them it was dangerous, so they needed to have their wits about them – and at one point this came into practice when a rogue Ford Escort came off the track and into the crowd nearly killing our sound man!

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Unfortunately, we got trapped in the rally stages and couldn’t make it back to the services in time for the interview, so decided to stay for stage 4 and watch Sara run again. Unfortunately, also, we didn’t see Sara start, and after speaking to multiple marshals and trying not to be ran over, Sara had had an accident during an earlier stage and was forced to retire.

Overall, we didn’t get what we came for, but it was such a fun experience and truly epic to be so close to the rally! I’ve discussed with Sara that we’ll definitely rearrange to interview her soon, probably sometime in the new year.

More pics soon!!!

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Crew selfie from left to right: Jamie (Sound), Oscar (Camera 1), James (Camera 2), Emily (Producer) and Me (Director / Camera 3)

PFI Filming – 17/09/16

17th September saw a small crew of us heading up North to Grantham and it’s PF International Kart Circuit. This included our two producers Emily and Kyle, camera operator Rachael, sound recordist Jamie and myself directing.

Immediately we realised how we underestimated the sheer size and numbers of people involved in the Superone karting championship. There were motorhomes and trucks lined up and so much hustle and bustle. As soon as we stepped out from the cars, the revving of engines hit us straight away – we all couldn’t help but be excited already.

Staying with Abbi and Andy most of the day and filming, I got to know them both and slowly learnt more and more about the car and the championship she competes in. Abbi is a Junior TKM karter and a works driver with Tal-Ko, her number 49 on her kart and she hopes to get into single seater race cars soon (she’s testing a Ginetta in October).

We confirmed then that a crew would follow her racing season in 2017, whatever she decides to do. This would be our documentary’s narrative arc.

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Our Subject – 14/09/16

Today I confirmed with a young driver and her father that they would be involved in our documentary as our main subject!

Her name is Abbi Pulling and we plan to meet them at a testing weekend at PF International circuit in Grantham on 17/09/16. This is to initially meet her and her father Andy, conduct a first interview, film some of the karting action and get a general idea of what to expect from a karting championship.

Abbi is exactly the kind of subject we wanted for this documentary; she’s quick, determined, consistently winning races and giving the boys a run for their money.

Consistently finishing in the top 3 (against 29 boys) and setting fastest laps, 13 year old Abbi joined Super One National TKM Junior Championship as a Tal-Ko works driver in March 2016. She’s won multiple awards which include the BWRDC (British Women’s Racing Drivers Club) awards for Karting, Top Junior Driver and the premier award, the Mary Wheeler Trophy for overall club champion, the youngest ever winner.

Introduction

Women have often been told that “Formula 1 is a man’s world” and Formula 1 Chief Executive Bernie Ecclestone doesn’t believe women can compete, stating “women are not physically able to drive F1 cars” and that “if there was somebody that was capable, they wouldn’t be taken seriously anyway.”

I’m a huge motorsport enthusiast and follow Formula 1, Moto GP and Rally WRC where I can, and used to kart too. However, I’m sure I’m not the first in asking “where are the ladies here? They can drive too right?”

Since Formula 1 began in 1950, there have only ever been 6 female drivers who have started a race, and only 1 of those ever scored a point: Lella Lombardi back in 1975. So why has there been little progression since then?

The lower divisions are where the shifts and changes are unconsciously happening for women to have a successful future in this sport. And because of this, I decided our main documentary arc will follow a young up-and-coming karter and observe behind the scenes.

At the moment, the documentary’s prime questions to ask and address are: What is it like for women working in motorsport (F1, rally, karting, motogp, drivers, engineers etc)? Can and will women compete equally in the highest level, Formula 1, alongside it’s male drivers?

So far, there is only a small team of us involved, making initial contact with the relevant people.