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FIA WIM nominates Girls on Track Senior and Junior finalists

The fourth and final edition of the FIA Girls On Track will see its final stage getting underway at Franciacorta in September: here's the 16 shortlisted finalists in the Junior and Senior categories.


FIA Girls On Track finalist
Photo credits: FIA/ Marc de Mattia / DPPI

The FIA Girls On Track programme will enter in its final stage for its fourth edition, as eight Junior and eight Senior drivers have been named for the Training Camp set to take place at Franciacorta, Italy, in September. The programme was launched in 2020 and saw current FRECA point-scorer Maya Weug winning the first edition, therefore entering the Ferrari Driver Academy as the first historic female driver within the Maranello team. Maya made her Italian F4 debut with Iron Dames and, two years later, graduated to FRECA. Finalist in the first edition was also Doriane Pin, who also would eventually graduate to an Iron Dames seat in sports car racing. In the second edition, Catalan racer Laura Camps Torras won the Senior selections; she joined FDA and completed a season of Formula 4 testing within Iron Lynx/Iron Dames. For the first time, the Junior selections were held and Portuguese karter Maria Germano Neto, 11 at the time, was promoted to a factory drive with Tony Kart with support from Ferrari Driver Academy for an international karting season. In 2022, the selections were again held at Circuit Paul Ricard, before a second stage at the Ferrari headquarters in Fiorano. Aurelia Nobels emerged as the victorious driver among the Senior group, with fellow finalists Chloe Grant and Chloe Chong also stepping up to F1 Academy seats. Nobels joined Prema Racing under the banner of Iron Dames for her second season in Formula 4 competitions, in the highly competitive Italian F4. Zoe Florescu Potolea was the selected driver among the younger age group and is currently contesting an international karting season under the guidance of FDA. The fourth edition was launched again in collaboration with Ferrari Driver Academy and Iron Dames, with the aim of continuously detecting talented karting drivers and supporting them up the ranks of motor racing - carrying momentum from the highly positive impact that the first three editions had on the movement. "This programme is a unique talent accelerator for young girls dreaming of a career in motor sport." - said FIA Women In Motorsport Commission President Deborah Mayer. “After 3 successful years, this fourth and final edition promises to be particularly popular and challenging, with an anticipated record number of entries thanks to the tremendous contribution of our ASNs."


Deborah Mayer, FIA Women In Motorsport Commission President and Iron Dames founder
Photo credits: FIA/ Marc de Mattia / DPPI

From the pool of applications, which opened in June, 16 finalists have been selected - eight among the Juniors (12-14 years of age) and eight among the Seniors (14-16 years of age).

Joanne Ciconte, Domenika Arellano, Anniken Lindfjord, Meri Levula, Alba Hurup Larsen, Mathilda Paatz, Jure Portelli and Milla Sjöstrand will be competing for a spot in the FDA with a F4 program in 2024. Eva Dorrestijn, Annabella Fairclough, Ella Jönsson, Klara Kowalczyk, Bianca Nagy, Eliska Plna, Vanesa Silkunaite and Takahashi Kanon will be the finalists among the younger age group, competing for an international karting season.


SENIOR

14 year old Australian Joanna Ciconte started racing at 9 and has competed in the Cadet class in the Australian Karting Association before moving up to the Junior class in 2022. She currently competes in the Australian Karting Championship in the KA3 Junior light category. Domenika Arellano, 14 from Ecuador, will be returning to the Girls On Track final atfer making her first appearance last year. In the Junior class, Arellano was really close to the drivers that eventually made the top four, so with one more year of racing under her belt she might be one to watch. In 2023, Arellano entered the South American Karting Championship finals, finishing seventh, as well as the IAME X30 series. Anniken Lindfjord comes from a slightly different background: the 14 year old Norwegian is among her country's rising stars in Crosskart and currently sits second in the national championship in the Crosskart Junior category. Finnish driver Meri Levula, 15, has motorsport in her DNA: both her father and mother had in fact competed in rally in Finland. She started karting at 3 and rose up the ranks of both Finnish and Estonian competitions, winning races as well as the Emma Kimiläinen scholarship for the most promising youngster. Levula is part of the 2021 FIA Rising Stars selections. In 2023, she continued to race karting, also making her touring car debut in the V1600 Finnish series. In barely two years in karting, Alba Hurup Larsen, 14, has made impressive progress in the karting scene and has her eyes set on a car racing future. Having contested her first race in 2021, Larsen has raced in both the Danish and Swedish karting championship, stepping up from the Mini 60 to the X30 Junior class. Mentored by F1 racer Kevin Magnussen, Alba has recently increasingly raced in international competitions, including in the highly competitive Italian championship. Mathilda Paatz, 15, will be a familiar face to followers of the Girls On Track initiative, as the German was among the four finalists in last year's Junior category. Paatz is a rising star in international karting competitions, having stepped up to the OK Senior category at FIA European and World championship level. Racing under the banner of Fernando Alonso's junior team, Mathilda is also contesting the Champions of the Future Euro Series. Previously, she impressed with the third place in the ADAC Kart Masters and represented Germany at the FIA Motorsport Games. Jure Portelli is the second Australian among the eight Senior finalists: she graduated from the Whitsunday Club Championship in 2021 to the Queensland championship in the KA3 and KA4 classes; Portelli is currently racing in the Australian championship in the KA3 Junior category. Milla Sjöstrand, from Sweden, returns to the FIA Girls On Track final stage after the 2021 edition: the 15 year old started karting in 2016 in the Swedish Formula Micro category, entering the Swedish championship one year later. In the OK-J class, Sjöstrand started amassing victories on home soil and progressively entered more international competitions, including the Lonato Winter Cup in Italy. In 2022, she made her debut in race cars, where she has been contesting the Swedish Formula 1000 Aquila - as well as testing days in F4 machinery. In 2023, Milla continued to race in karting, making her debut in the KZ2 category.


Aurelia Nobels, 2022 FIA Girls On Track winner, testing F4 at Fiorano
Photo credits: FIA Women In Motorsport
JUNIOR

Among the juniors, Eva Dorrestijn, 13 from the Netherlands, has quickly made her way through the national competitions to European level karting. After the Mini class in IAME competitions, Dorrestijn claimed the title as a rookie in the GK4 Kart Series in 2022.

In 2023, the Dutchwoman is competing in the Junior X30 class, in the IAME Benelux as well in the IAME Euro Series.


Annabella "Bella" Fairclough only started karting in 2021 and is already one of the most promising youngsters across the UK. Now 12, Bella took interest in motor racing after her father entered the Mini Challenge and, having gained experience on the simulator at home, her passion for the sport translated into her first karting experiences. She started karting in Honda Cadets competing in the Cadet Kart Championship in 2021 and won several races in her debut year. Fairclough then entered the Ultimate Karting Championship in 2022 and became the first female to win a Super Final in the Ultimate Karting Championship series, winning Round 5 at Clay Pigeon.


Ella Jönsson, from Sweden, has raced - and won races - in the Swedish Karting championship in the Junior 60 class, then moved to the Junior 125 class in 2023.


Another big name in the world of international karting, 12-year-old Klara Kowalczyk is a two-time Polish karting champion and has joined in 2023 the ranks of factory team CRG for the most prestigious karting competitions in the world. In the OK-J category, Kowalczyk is contesting the uber-competitive World Series Karting, the European and World championships, as well as the FIA Karting Academy Trophy.


Bianca Nagy, 12, is one of the most interesting up and coming drivers from Hungary. The 2022 Junior Calivita Cup vice-champion and Junior Women's Cup champion is currently competing in the national karting championship where she is collecting race wins.


With a family whose background is in autocross, Eliska Plna inevitably started racing at the youngest age and has been behind the wheel since the age of 7. Now 12, the Czech driver has been climbing the ranks in Junior Buggy.


Lithuanian Vanesa Silkunaite, 12, had a rapid progression up the ranks of international karting: from the national title in the Micro 60 class in 2019, she became Lithuanian champion again in 2021 in the Micro Max class, while at the same time entering some of the most prestigious competitions such as Rotax Max Challenge, WSK Super Master Series, Rotax Max Euro.

Silkunaite then stepped up to the OK-Junior category in 2023, in the Champions of the Future series.


Aged 11, from Nagoya, Japan, Kanon Takahashi is among the front-runners of the Junior class of the SL Mizunami Series in Japan.


One of the biggest innovations of this fourth edition will be that all the finalists will be part of a "talent capsule", which is aimed to provide them with career support and driving development opportunities.


The 2023 Training Camp will take place at Franciacorta, with between 4-5 September (Juniors) and 6-7 September (Seniors), run in collaboration with the ACI Driving School.

Four Senior finalists will be named and will progress through the FDA scouting camp in Maranello, where they will be assessed by the FDA experts through a series of physical and mental tests, technical and media workshops as well as simulator training.

Two test days in F4 machinery at the Ferrari-owned track in Fiorano will round out the activities, as the 2023 winner will be selected.


FIA Girls On Track karting selections at Circuit Paul Ricard in 2022
Photo credits: FIA/ Marc de Mattia / DPPI

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