New British Motorsport Association academy rally driver Georgia Shiels, of Garstang, plans to take the big leap into the 2014 British Rally Championship this season, after only two years at the wheel.
The teenager, who turned 18 this week, had never driven a car or been to a rallying event prior to the summer of 2011 when she experienced a 10-minute teen driving experience and a passenger ride in a rally car.
She and became hooked and Georgia then began the “steep uphill” learning curve of basic car control, gear changes, sliding sideways and braking distances. After passing her BARS test for her junior rally licence in February, 2012, she embarked on a full championship season in the Junior 1000 Ecosse Rally Challenge with only a few hours of learning to drive her rally prepared Nissan Micra which arrived on her 16th birthday.
From those very first tentative steps on the start-line at the old Charterhall airfield in March, 2012, when she and co-driver Phil Sandham, of Morecambe, were placed eighth overall, Georgia has gone from strength to strength. She was seventh out of 12 competitors at Ingliston, near Edinburgh the following month; seventh out of 12 with co-driver Alistair Dodd at the Solway Coast rally in August; and by the end of finished top lady in the first ever Ecosse Junior F1000 Challenge Championship.
Recognised by the British Motor Sport Association, she was then invited onto their prestigious Advanced Apprenticeship in Sporting Excellence scheme at Loughborough and competed against the more experienced UK Junior 1000 rally drivers at their last championship event. This was Georgia’s first two-day event, including night stages, and she came eighth out of 14.
Moving on to 2013, Georgia was one of six junior 1000 rally drivers chosen to showcase her talents with a Nissan Micra rally car at the Retro Race Show in Stoneleigh in February.
Once her A-level work finished in June, she progressed up to a 2.0L Fiesta ST Group-N rally car, taking part in her first senior forest rally at the infamous Wales Nicky Grist Forest Stages rally, finishing a respectable 61st out of more than 120 starters, fourth in class, also being the top lady finisher.
In the Trackrod Rally Yorkshire in September she was placed third in her class.
A trip to the Autosport International Show at Birmingham last week has resulted in discussions with car manufacturers, suppliers, MSA championship organisers, rally teams and even World Rally Championship legends like Walter Rohrl.
Plans are now moving ahead for Team Shiels to start a fresh and even bigger challenge in the premier British Rally Championship this year ,competing in the North Wales, Pirelli, Jim Clark, Scottish, Ulster, Isle of Man and Rallye Sunseeker rallies.