Kaká Magno: In Europe to pave the way for the next generation
At the first race in Monza, Kaká Magno became the first woman in the Italian Prototype Championship. We caught up with the charismatic Brazilian driver, whose dream is also to pave the way for the next generation of young female compatriots.
After extensive national experience and having raced at the highest levels in Brazilian karting, 32-year old racing driver Kattlyn ‘Kaká’ Magno was set to make her debut in the Italian-based Griiip G1 Series in 2020 – a single-seater one-make championship whose cars can outperform Formula 4 machinery.
The Covid crisis heavily disrupted Kaká’s plans and, just as the series was cancelled, she had to make her return to Brazil in hectic circumstances.
Luckily, the Brazilian lady found a way back to Europe in early 2021, and joined the Italian Prototype Championship (CISP) at the wheel of the Wolf Racing GB08 Thunder– a 220 hp machine that, with its weight of only 378kg, delivers great performances and is capable of a top speed of up to 240 kph.
The championship, which enjoys a good following thanks to its over 220 hours of live coverage on TV and digital platforms, features a six-event calendar on some of the most historical and popular Italian racetracks: Monza, Pergusa, Misano, Mugello, Imola and Vallelunga.
On May 1-2, Kaká Magno became the first woman in the series and made her racing debut at the iconic Autodromo Nazionale di Monza – in a rainy and grey weekend that saw the 21 prototypes battling out on track for the first round of the 2021 season.
We had the opportunity to meet Kaká ahead of her first Italian-based season and get to know a bit better both the racing driver and the woman behind the visor: an ever-smiling personality also through the hardships, and with a mission very close to her heart: promoting women in motorsport in her home country and help them to follow in her footsteps by racing internationally.
"Racing in Monza is surreal. It was always one of my dreams to race on the tracks where Ayrton Senna was racing."
Kaká’s passion for the sport is in her family’s blood, she told us: “I started motor racing via my grandfather, he was a great karting mechanic and my cousin was also racing, so the passion came to me. And here I am today in Monza.”
Having tested and raced a wide variety of cars in her career, Kattlyn has little doubts about the best car she had the pleasure of driving so far: “It's the Wolf – the best car I have ever driven to this day. It is really stable, it's a fast car and it was really well designed by great people. It really is one of the best cars I have driven.” – she told us.
While recalling the challenges of 2020, Magno is nevertheless glad she had the opportunity to enter the Griiip G1 Virtual series – one of the simulation-based championships that flourished during the global shutdown. While no simulation will ever be able to sub-in for the thrills of the real thing, Kaká and the other drivers had the opportunity to share the virtual-track with former F1 driver Romain Grosjean.
“ was difficult, because I had an entry in the Griiip Championship and I had to go back to Brazil.” – she said.
“But we adapted to the situation and I raced in the Griiip virtual championship with also [Romain] Grosjean. It was a really cool experience of virtual racing as it was a really professional series, they are a well structured team. But it certainly was also difficult.”
“Thank God I managed to come here to Italy and I was invited by Wolf. and here I am today.”
“I already had some training in virtual racing but overall it was well organized and professional. The difference - obviously - is great between a racetrack and the simulator, but it was cool. In the simulation you can be more aggressive, while on track you have to be much more careful - but just a bit!” - she joked.
Among the experiences that certainly shaped her career so far, it is the 500 Milhas de Granja Viana, one of the most exclusive endurance karting races in Brazil and on the planet. The 500 mile race has attracted racing celebrities such as F1 and Indycar drivers, as well as racing stars of the future that gather annually to the popular karting track.
“It was a great experience to race in the 500 Miles [of Granja Viana] and we were fifth with my team, so it really was a dream come true and a great experience.” - she recalls.
“I was also Brazilian Vice-Champion, I raced in the Brazilian championship, and last year, when I got Covid, I had 21 days to prepare. There were 36 karts and I was 23rd at the end.
It makes a lot of difference to race with the best Brazilian karting drivers, it gives you a great experience and when you come here you're already well prepared.”
By coming to Europe to pursue a professional career in motor racing, Kaká Magno is witnessing to her all-time dreams coming to reality: at the first round of the Italian Prototype Championship in Monza, she could almost feel and breath the history coming from corners such as Lesmo, Ascari, Parabolica.
"Racing in Monza is surreal. It was always one of my dreams to race on the tracks where Ayrton Senna was racing. I am really turning my dream into reality to be here in Monza, one of the greatest Italian circuits and to be part of this - I have no words."
The two races of her first weekend, though, proved to be challenging ones. Due to some technical issues, the races of the Brazilian driver came to a premature end.
“Superação" [Resilience] - is the word that Kaká used to describe her debut in the series. "To get here was very difficult.", she added.
"My dream, for the next five years is to race in several categories and being able to help the young girls."
Kaká Magno's racing dreams are also aimed at next generations: an ambassador for women in her native country, Magno reflected back on the progress made in the past years, which is allowing a growing number of young ladies to climb the ladder of national karting towards, potentially, an international career.
"Thankfully, there are nowadays several girls in amateur karting championships, and the girls are going from amateur to professional level and then to single-seaters and touring cars." - she said. "Nowadays I am an ambassador within the Brazilian Championship. Together with the CBA [Brazilian Automobile Confederation], we created the Brazilian women's trophy."
"I was also an ambassador for the Ayrton Senna Trophy, where we had the all-female category, to give them an opportunity to race at professional level. Therefore I feel like a godmother to the young girls and I think that they need to come here to Europe to race here and make a career out of it."
When asked about the most interesting Brazilian prospect in motorsport, she does have a name ready: the first ever South American W Series driver, Bruna Tomaselli.
While Tomaselli is getting ready for her first international campaign in the all-female F3 championship that will share eight weekends with Formula 1, Kaká Magno is working hard to make sure that more Tomasellis will hit the track in the coming years.
"My dream, for the next five years, is to race in several categories and be able to help the young girls." - she explained.
"We are working on a project which is yet to be launched, which is to bring Brazilian girls to race here in Europe in order to experience different cars, with a very nice structure and, shortly, I'll let you all know!