Freya Belk shows significant potential in rookie car racing season
Updated: Nov 8
It is extremely rare that a driver finishes every race of their debut car racing season: this is exactly what Freya Belk did, following an impressively consistent debut season competing in the Mini Challenge Clubsport with Airtec Motorsport.
Freya Belk has made an encouraging start to her circuit racing career following an impressive debut season competing in the Mini Challenge Clubsport with Airtec Motorsport. Racing in the Cooper Class, Freya achieved a pair of podium results while finishing inside the top-5 in every race of the season. Belk’s consistency across the campaign was particularly noteworthy, with the racing rookie maintaining a 100% finishing record across the 15 races.
Freya enjoyed a successful stint in karting prior to making the move into the Mini Challenge Clubsport with Airtec Motorsport. Racing runs in the family for Belk with her sister, Lexie, having made the switch to single seaters at the end of year with a debut in the GB4 Championship at Donington Park. For Freya, this season served as the perfect opportunity to develop her racecraft while competing at some of the most demanding circuits in the country.
The Mini Challenge Clubsport with Airtec Motorsport saw an evolution ahead of the 2023 season, providing a cost-effective multi-class platform for drivers to compete in different Mini Cooper machinery. Freya competed in the Cooper Class, taking to the track alongside drivers in the Open and S Class for more powerful Minis.
The calendar consisted of 15 races across six rounds, with drivers tackling some of the alternative British circuits including Cadwell Park, Mallory Park and Thruxton. This unique calendar featured a mix of two and three race events, with a number of weekends also featuring an official free practice session prior to qualifying.
The season got underway at the extremely demanding Cadwell Park circuit in Lincolnshire, a fierce challenge for experienced drivers but even more so for Freya as she made her circuit racing debut. Bouncing back superbly from a qualifying incident, Belk’s first competitive dry running was in the first of three races in which she finished fourth in the Cooper Class.
Her best results of the season were to follow, with Freya finishing an excellent third in races two and three to secure her maiden podium results. Finding two seconds of lap time improvements across the races, it was an excellent start to the season for the debutant.
Mallory Park hosted the second round of Mini Challenge Clubsport with Airtec Motorsport, with the high speed circuit providing a different challenge. With lap times less than a minute in length, even for the Cooper Class cars, qualifying was set to be a hotly contested affair. Freya set the fifth fastest time, just one second away from pole position and more impressively less than three tenths of a second away from third. A pair of close races followed in which she battled with fellow female driver Lauren Tayla, with Belk achieving two fifth place results.
Another high-speed circuit was to come in round three, this time in the shape of Thruxton where maximising the slipstreaming effect would be key to a good weekend. Freya excelled in a wet qualifying to set the fourth fastest time on her first visit to the challenging circuit. In a damp race one, her pace was even stronger as she secured a top-5 finish while missing out on fastest lap in the Cooper Class by just four tenths of a second. A further top-5 was to come in race two with Belk once again showing comparable pace to the podium finishers ahead.
Round four at Snetterton saw Freya tackle the longest circuit on the calendar and improvement was the key to her weekend. Improving her quickest time by four seconds from qualifying to her fastest race lap, this enabled her to collect a trio of fourth place results. Silverstone followed and after qualifying fourth, Belk was involved in close battles throughout the weekend and this saw the young driver achieve two fourth place results, in addition to a fifth in race two.
The Mini Challenge Clubsport with Airtec Motorsport drivers often faced changeable conditions during the season and this continued in the season finale at Donington Park. In a wet qualifying, Freya set the sixth fastest time in the Cooper Class but showed good improvements in a pair of dry races. Finishing fourth in race one, Belk improved her fastest lap time by a second to finish fifth in race two and maintain her exceptional record of completing every race across her debut campaign.
Freya’s consistency stood her apart during the course of the season and this gave her the best opportunity to develop and improve as a driver. It is extremely rare that a driver finishes every race of their debut car racing season and Belk did just that, while making considerable progress across each weekend.
Throughout the season, Freya’s strength came at the high-speed circuits where she was able to battle for podium positions within her class and enjoy close wheel-to-wheel battles. Looking ahead to 2024, Belk will be aiming to secure the funds to return to circuit racing and build upon what was a particularly encouraging debut season.