Zoe Florescu Potolea emerged as the Junior winner of the 2023 Girls On Track Rising Stars selections, and will receive support from FDA for an international karting season in 2023.
For the second time in the history of the project, the FIA Women In Motorsport's promoted "Girls On Track - Rising Stars" program included a Junior category as well, with drivers under 14 years of age being selected among the most promising karting talents globally.
From over 80 applications, eight junior drivers were invited to Circuit Paul Ricard in August, when the first stage of the selection went underway at the karting track within the French racetrack.
Gabriela Teixeira from Portugal, Tyra Sundberg from Sweden, Domenika Arellano from Ecuador, Mathilda Paatz from Germany, Sara Matsui from Japan, Lisa Billard from France, Zoe Florescu Potolea from Italy and Shriya Lohia from India gave it their all in the two days of karting action, that included several tests and a final race simulation.
Alongside the track sessions, all the drivers took part in mental and physical tests with training partner 321 Perform, as well as workshops on topics such as nutrition and media awareness. Despite different backgrounds, all of them pushed each other’s limits and showed improvements across the two days in the Kart Republic karts.
Four drivers emerged as the top four finalists: Mathilda Paatz, Sara Matsui - who was the youngest at barely 12 years of age - Lisa Billard and Zoe Florescu Potolea.
They met in Maranello, Italy, for the second stage of the selection - where Ferrari Driver Academy had the tough job of assessing the young hopefuls and rewarding one with the prestigious position within the Academy.
The drivers spent two days in the iconic Maranello headquarters, before moving to Franciacorta, where they hit the track in TonyKart vehicles and got to show their on-track skills.
"Once again, with the support of the Ferrari Driver Academy, we have discovered some great talents such as our 4 junior finalists, Lisa, Zoe, Sara, Mathilda, who showed their predisposition to forge a career in motorsport." - commented FIA Women In Motorsport President and Iron Dames founder Deborah Mayer.
"One of the strengths of our programme is to detect and nurture girls at an early age, when they begin to dream about becoming racing drivers", she continued. "Bringing more women into motor sport requires to widen the base of the pyramid and we will develop further this strategy in the future."
After evaluations, 14-year-old Zoe Florescu Potolea emerged as the second Junior winner and will therefore be supported by FDA in an international karting season in 2023, as a member of the OK Junior Tony Kart team.
Originally from Romania, Zoe is representing Italy and has been one of the biggest names in karting worldwide in 2022: she raced in some of the most highly-competitive karting competitions in the world, including the WSK Euro Series, the European Karting Championship and the World Karting Championship in Sarno in September.
“Honestly I can’t believe it. It has been an awesome experience throughout the programme in Paul Ricard and in Franciacorta. I will give my best to honour this opportunity" - Zoe commented at the announcement. "Thank you so much to all who make it possible.”
With the support of FDA, Zoe succeeds Portuguese Maria Germano Neto and will have the chance to further climb the ranks of karting and motorsport.