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WiM – Over 200 girls experience motor sport for the first time at FIA Girls on Track – Dare to be Different

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Showpiece event at the Mexico City E-Prix presents new and exciting partnership that aims to inspire more female participation in motor sport

Over 200 girls from Mexico City took part in the first ever FIA Girls on Track – Dare to be Different event this weekend (16-17 February) during round four of the 2018/19 ABB FIA Formula E Championship. The new partnership between the FIA Women in Motorsport Commission and Dare to be Different creates a stronger and broader platform to encourage female participation in all areas of the sport, open to girls aged from eight to 18.

The event was officially presented on Friday evening, with representatives from the FIA, Dare to be Different, local National Sporting Authority (ASN) OMDAI and Formula E all present to introduce the programme. FIA Karting Commission President and Formula E driver Felipe Massa and Beitske Visser, who tested for the BMW i Andretti Motorsport Formula E team in Ad Diriyah earlier in the season, were also there to give a demonstration at the karting slalom and talk to the girls about the exciting challenges of racing.

The programme took place at the bespoke event space in the E-Village at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, where the girls took part in a wide range of activities across two days, including a karting slalom, a pit-stop challenge, media tutorials, practical STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) activities as well as road safety and environment awareness workshops.

In addition to the activities at the event space, 22 girls were treated to a once-in-a-lifetime experience with the support of the championship promoter and OMDAI, as they were in the spotlight as grid kids in the build up to the thrilling E-Prix, and also assisted in the spectacular podium ceremony in front of thousands of avid fans.

The Girls on Track was launched in 2018 with funding and support from the European Commission and has implemented a competition model for the promotion and development of 13-18 year old females in motor sport at grassroots level across Europe. Now together with Dare to be Different, which was created by FIA Women in Motorsport Ambassador Susie Wolff in 2016 and has extended programmes in the United Kingdom, Germany and Australia, this inspirational joint venture will reach a global audience with the ultimate goal of inspiring and opening the door to more women in all areas of the motor sport world.

Formula E provides a global stage to showcase the concept, and the long term objective of the project is to set a template which can be used by ASNs at a national level in order to greatly increase the reach of FIA Girls on Track – Dare to be Different.

FIA Deputy President for Sport, Graham Stoker, said: “Our sport is almost unique in that men and women can compete together on equal terms. We’ve done a lot of work over recent years with the FIA Women in Motorsport Commission, but as it stands now our sport still only has around five per cent female participation – of course the goal needs to be 50 per cent. That’s not just our goal, but as the FIA is a full member of the International Olympic Committee, it means that we have now signed up to complete gender diversity within our sport.

“We know can do it, but what we needed was proven delivery mechanisms in order to achieve that target, which is where this programme comes in. We’ve been working in Europe with The Girls on Track project, which is recognised and part funded by the EU, and Susie also over the last four years has rolled out the superb Dare to be Different project. I’m delighted that we can join together, it’s a fabulous fit, and I think we’re now going to break the mould, and bring a significant amount of young women into our sport.”

Dare to be Different Founder and Venturi Formula E Team Principal, Susie Wolff, said: “We are here to help these girls realise that racing isn’t just for boys, not just out on the track but in all areas of the sport. I’d like to say a big thank you to all of my competitors from the paddock who have come over to show support for our event, I think it’s something we all agree is important on this platform in the long term to commit to this cause. I’d also like to thank Graham Stoker and all the team at the FIA for their huge support in getting this off the ground and making this event happen here in Mexico, and lastly to Alberto – Formula E is visionary in so many ways, and when we came to you with this idea you jumped on it and it really shows that we all stand together to make this sport more diverse.”

FIA Karting Commission President and Formula E driver, Felipe Massa said: “It’s a great pleasure to be here at this very important moment. I think The Girls on Track, and especially as I’ve known Susie for a very long time from when we were team-mates at Williams, it’s an amazing initiative. We all need to give our support to this project, it’s really a core part of motor sport that men and women can compete together. Not only from the driving point of view, but also the mechanics and engineers, in so many different areas in so many categories. We can see that the interest is growing year by year, and with more help from all of us, and I really hope we can see more girls involved. As the President of the FIA Karting Commission I’m pleased to see more and more girls starting out – karting is the school for all drivers, and it’s important that we keep supporting this initiative.”

Formula E Co-Founder and Chief Championship Officer, Alberto Longo, said: “I’m delighted that Formula E is hosting this first joint event between FIA Girls on Track and Dare to be Different – the two programmes together will hopefully reach and inspire more girls to get involved in motor sport. We have a lot of role models in Formula E, from team principals like Susie, to team managers, engineers and of course a lot of potential young female drivers. We want Formula E to be the showpiece platform for this programme, which can hopefully be replicated by all ASNs to reach more and more girls worldwide.”