We caught up with one of our newest 3 challengers, Paige Bellerby, who competes in one of the fastest growing motorsports in the world, Rallycross.
Q: Hi Paige! Great to have you on board with our growing roster of challengers. What’s your story so far?
It all started when I was young, whilst watching my dad compete in his first rallycross meeting (and over the years win 5 British rallycross titles). After that first race, I was inspired, and I grew up dreaming that I could one day sit in the same seat as him, and achieve even as half as much as he did.
After working my way up through the ranks of quad bikes, competing at rally schools aged 11 versus adults, and winning the Yorkshire Dales Grass Track Championship, I made the jump into rallycross aged 14, becoming the first female to win a British rallycross title in the same year.
Since then, I’ve competed in a variety of classes and cars, and battled against challenges such as limited budgets, engine blows and championship-costing broken driveshafts. As a team, we’ve still managed to achieve accolades such as being the first female to ever win a Super-National A final, the most outstanding performance award in 2015, and finishing 2nd overall in the championship in 2017.
Q: Where was it that you grew up?
In Northallerton, North Yorkshire, on a farm, which was perfect! I used to just finish school and go straight out into the field on my quad and tear around for hours on end, and at the age of 7, I taught myself to drive in the fields in just a Nissan Micra that my dad had bought from the local scrap man for just £50. I went to school locally, where my teachers were always really intrigued about my hobby, and the fact that I was adamant I was going to grow up to be a professional rallycross driver!
Q: Rallycross is clearly a really important part of your life – what kept you hooked?
There’s no better thrill than the 3 minutes of action packed door to door racing, and in my opinion, you can’t get that in any other motorsport. It’s not just for the drivers but for the spectators too – they’re able to get up close and personal with the drivers and cars during the race meetings.
Now I just feel privileged to of spent so many years amongst the sport and watching it grow into the huge success it is. The rallycross paddock feels like a second home.
Q: You mentioned that you struggled with budgets whilst racing – how do you fund your racing?
I’m currently self-employed and work alongside racing to fund myself. Over the years, I’ve worked in multiple trades including hospitality and working for a road tanker manufacturer. Now, I work with my dad doing anything required that will enable us to make a living and pay for racing, from plumbing to farm work and conversions.
Q: How will Christopher Ward’s Challenger Programme help your progression?
The challenger programme offers me more financial support which will allow me to develop my car further heading into the 2018 race season, with every driver making big changes to their cars. As each class is becoming more and more competitive, it is crucial that we’re able to keep up and get one step ahead in order the achieve our championship goal. Not only this but the Christopher Ward Challenger programme offers my driver profile more exposure across social media, which is now an incredibly important factor.
Q: It’s fair to say that Rallycross, and motorsport more widely, is traditionally a male-dominated sport. How do you find competing in this sort of environment?
I mostly find it extremely enjoyable, and I’ve never really experienced any serious criticism as a female competing in a male dominated sport.
For those people that do have negative opinions on women competing in male-dominated sport, it’s great to be able to prove that women can not only compete at the same level as men, but we can achieve in our own right and win; I hope that I can continue to prove this for all women that have been criticised or discriminated on for pursuing something that they love.
Q: What advice would you give someone looking to get into motorsports?
If it’s something you love doing, then never stop chasing your dream, hard work and dedication to something pays off, and is 100% worth it.
There are championships that exist in rallycross for people running with a low budget, and there isn’t a person in the paddock that would say no to guiding you in the right direction.
Q: What are your plans for 2018 and how are you preparing?
The 2018 season is about to begin and the car is undergoing a full re-build – we are removing the old 1.8L supercharged Toyota engine, and replacing it with a 2.5L Honda all naturally aspirated power with a Quaife sequential gearbox. Before these essential changes we believe that the car was producing 270bhp, now after making these modifications we hope to be putting out 330bhp and that it will be the difference we need to take this year’s title.
Best of luck to Paige and her team this season, who we’ll be closely following and hearing from back soon. To learn more about the programme and our other exceptional challengers, visit the Challenger Programme.