Hannah Pym is a name you need to watch out for if you are a fan of motorsport as the teenager has been making quite a name for herself in recent years.

Hannah Pym

Hannah Pym

She has made it to the final four for the Porsche Scholarship, which could send her racing career rocketing was she to be successful. We caught up with her to talk about the Scholarship, how she got into racing and what she hopes the future will hold.

- You are one of the four finalists in the 2016 Porsche Scholarship process, so how did you get into motorsport in the first place.

Motorsport has always been part of my family, with my Grandad and later my Dad being heavily involved. My father competed at a high level so I have always been around racetracks. Before I could walk I had a pedal car that I peddled furiously around the garden.

It was when I was five years old that my Dad took me out in a kart, with a natural talent and passion for motorsport, I began racing at eight years old and this laid the foundations for where I am now. The majority of today's professional racing drivers, such as current F1 World Champion Lewis Hamilton, started racing in karting, as it is the best way to learn the basics.

- Reaching the final four for the Porsche Scholarship is already a huge achievement, so how have you found the whole process?

It is a phenomenal achievement to have reached the final four. The Porsche Scholarship is arguably the biggest prize in British motorsport so to be in with a chance of winning it is unbelievable. This year they had a record number of applications for the Scholarship so it was tougher than ever and the level of talent of those who applied was also very high. Out of all the applications, ten individuals were chosen to attend an interview and presentation.

From there, the four finalists were picked. The whole process has been very exciting. I have never done anything like this before but I have enjoyed it a huge amount. I thrive on the pressure of performing in the three different areas of driving, physical performance and media. The nerves aside it was great to have an opportunity to compete on a level playing field with the other contenders.

- Should you win, what would this mean for your career? How would the scholarship take you to the next level?

If I were to win the Scholarship it would give me the perfect platform to propel my career to the next level. To have the in-depth support and guidance from such a prestigious racing marque as Porsche is priceless.

Numerous past Carrera Cup drivers have proved this and Nick Tandy most recently won the 24 Hours of Le Mans outright with Porsche in 2015. Le Mans has always been my ultimate goal.

- Whether you land the scholarship or not, what will you take away from the whole process as you move forward with your career?

Whether or not I win the Scholarship I will still my pursue my dream. The process has taught me many specific lessons in each of the different areas we focused on in the assessment. All of these will prove invaluable as I progress throughout my career.

The most important thing that it has shown me is that if you work hard enough you will see the benefits, but it has also demonstrated that you should never give up, as you never know what is just around the corner.

- Motorsport is still a sport that is dominated by men, so how challenging have you found being a female racing driver in this world?

As I have been racing since I was eight years old, I found being female much more of a challenge at the beginning than I do now. Having raced for such a long time and with the success that I have had, I have earnt the respect of the drivers around me. I'm not saying that this was easy to achieve, I have had to fight for my place at times.

- While we do associate motorsport as a male dominated sport, would you say that is changing? Are there more young women and girls getting involved?

I would say that there has been a definite increase in the number of females involved in motorsport since I started, from driving itself to presenting and managing teams. I think the stigma around motorsport being solely for males is slowly being undone and I'm sure this will only happen more as females such as myself progress through the ranks.

- If there are any girls who want to follow in your footsteps, what advice would you give them on how to get into the sport?

Karting is the most accessible and the best way of getting into the sport and it gives you some great basic skills. If you wish to progress to higher levels in motorsport you will need to be prepared to make some big sacrifices. For example, while all of my friends were at my end of school prom, I was competing at the World Karting Championships abroad.

At this point, I would like to stress that it is vital to never forgo your education for racing as to be a successful driver nowadays you are expected to be the whole package. It isn't just about being able to perform on the track.

- You are still very much at the start of your career, so where would you like that career to take you? What are your major goals and ambitions?

Obviously my immediate goal is to be the first female to win the Porsche Scholarship. I will then focus on having a successful first two seasons in the Carrera Cup Great Britain and building solid relationships with new and existing sponsors.

From there, I would like to continue my relationship with Porsche by becoming one of their factory drivers. Ultimately, my dream is to compete in and win the 24 Hours of Le Mans with Porsche, of course, as they are the most successful manufacturer in the race's history since it began in 1923.

- Motorsport is one of the few sports where it is more of an equal playing field between men and women. What more would you like to see done to get more girls and women into the sport and taking on the men?

Traditionally cars, mechanics and motorsport are deemed to be for boys and their Dads. In reality there is no barrier and the sport welcomes females. I don't think it is motorsport itself that makes females feel unwelcome, so it's therefore only a matter of time before more of us girls get into the sport.

I think a huge part of my role as a successful racing driver is being an ambassador for women in motorsport, therefore raising the profile and appeal of the sport to females.

- Finally, what's next for you as we are about to head into 2016?

2016 sees me embark upon my debut season of car racing in the Porsche Carrera Cup GB. I will be working with In2Racing, which provides the professional close-knit support that I am used to and feel I need to be successful.

My fitness training will increase to ensure I am in peak physical and mental condition, ready for the start of next year. And who knows what else is around the corner.

by for www.femalefirst.co.uk
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