Jessica Edgar: “This sport runs through my veins”

15-year-old Jessica Edgar was born into a family who have been involved in motorsport for over 50 years, with her having been racing since she was just four years old. After being crowned champion in her debut season in the CKRC championship, her confidence is growing year on year. She has also represented the UK at the FIA Motorsport Games and this year was named as one of 20 drivers who will take part in the Girls on Track – Rising Stars programme. I spoke to her about her career so far, hopes for this season, and her dream of racing in W Series.

With her family having been involved for decades, Jessica was surely always going to have an interest in motorsport. “I used to watch my Dad compete in karts and always wanted to have a go. My family has always been involved in karting and our history with the sport goes back four generations, so I think this sport runs through my veins,” she said. It was at the age of four that Jessica first started karting, driving a Bambino kart. Even at this age, it was clear she loved the speed and excitement of racing. “I have always loved anything that involves speed, including fairground rides, so karting wasn’t any different – it fulfilled my need for an adrenaline rush immediately,” she explained.

credit: FIA Girls on Track

Jessica first began competing when she entered the Bambino Kart Club Championship. It was then in 2012 that she started racing with her father in a ‘dad and daughter’ team. After spending three years racing together, Jessica entered the NKF (Northern Karting Federation) Championship in the Cadet class, and despite the season being a steep learning curve, managed to achieve a best result of fifth place. In 2017, she moved from the MBM team she had been racing with the previous season, to the Bambino Kart Club team as she again competed in the NKF Championship, as well as the CKRC (Cumbria Kart Racing Club) Championship. “CKRC runs at Rowrah kart track which is very close to where I live. Both my Great-grandfathers were involved in buying and building the circuit, so it has a special place in my heart,” the young driver told me. Although it was her debut in the series, Jessica went on to be crowned champion in the CKRC Championship. “I was very proud to have won the championship in the IAME Cadet class, especially at my home track. It was great to finish off my career in Cadets by winning,” Jessica added.

In 2018, she joined Fusion Motorsport, racing in the Super One British and Little Green Man (LGM) Championships in the Mini X30 class. Despite not having big expectations for the season, Jessica excelled. In her first race weekend she made the top step of the Super One British Championship podium, ending the season fourth overall, and finishing the LGM season in fifth. Speaking of what her expectations had been ahead of the season, she said: “during all my winter testing my pace was towards the back of the field and I set my target to climb towards mid-pack. The first round of Super One was wet for the final and I found myself battling at the front, which helped me grow my confidence a considerable amount, which I believe helped me achieve the positions in the championship.” The following year, Jessica returned to the LGM Championship as well as competing in the Motorsport UK British Karting Championship. Improving on the previous season, the young driver won two races in both series finishing her LGM season in second and Motorsport UK British Karting Championship in a brilliant fourth. “After achieving good results in 2018, it gave me a massive confidence boost for 2019. My expectations became higher and I always wanted to be at the front. You have to believe in yourself and your ability if you want to be successful,” she explained.

Photo credit: Chris Walker

After impressing, the young racer was selected to represent Team UK in the inaugural FIA Motorsport Games. Held in Rome in 2019, the competition pitted nations against each other, covering six disciplines from karting to touring cars to eSports. “Dan Parker, the karting executive at Motorsport UK, initially spoke to me at the Wigan Motorsport UK British Championship round and invited me to be a part of the event,” Jessica told me. “I travelled with the other British competitors to Italy and raced against some of the best drivers from across the world. The whole experience was amazing and something I will never forget.”

This year it was announced that she will also take part in another FIA initiative: The Girls on Track – Rising Stars programme. The scheme was launched a few months ago by the FIA Women in Motorsport Commission along with the Ferrari Young Driver Academy. With the winner being awarded a one-year contract with Scuderia Ferrari’s junior programme, there is also the possibility of representing the team in a Formula 4 Championship. Jessica is one of 20 young female drivers to be on the shortlist, alongside fellow Brit Ella Stevens. “I learned about this through Motorsport UK and was put forward as an applicant. It took a while to hear back and assumed it wouldn’t happen this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. I know I was up against some really good young drivers, so I was shocked but thrilled to hear that I made it through to the final 20,” the 15-year-old said. Although she is excited to be selected, she knows it won’t be easy. “I feel very honoured. I know there is a lot of work ahead so I will give this opportunity my all and hopefully progress my way through the programme to ultimately compete in the F4 Championships,” the youngster described.

With motorsport resuming after months away due to the Coronavirus pandemic, Jessica is hoping to soon return to the sport she loves. “I am looking forward to getting back into the kart and getting some good results. Additionally, October will be very exciting as that’s when I will be travelling to France for the first test for the FIA Girls on Track – Rising stars programme, where I will compete against 19 other girls in hope to progress to the next round,” she said. With being a part of the Girls on Track scheme one of her racing highlights, it was a performance towards the end of last season that Jessica believes is her best sporting moment. “My proudest moment of my career so far is winning both finals at the Motorsport UK British Karting Championships.  After having problems in the heats on both days, I managed to come back through in the finals to take the wins,” she explained.

With her family having been involved in motorsport for decades, she often takes inspiration from them, with her cousin, and Red-Bull junior driver, Jonny Edgar being one of her biggest idols. “I look up to Jonny because I have watched his racing and followed his progress ever since he started in bambino karts, right through to him racing in the ADAC F4 Championship. I would like to follow in his footsteps and achieve similar success,” Jessica told me. With her hoping to enter the world of single seater racing, it is a Formula 3 championship that she is aiming for in the future, before going on to make it at the top of the motorsport ladder. “My dream series to race in would be W Series – all the women competing in the championship are so inspiring. I would then ultimately like to become a driver in F1, showcasing to the world that motorsport is one of the only sports that men and women can compete on an even playing field,” she said. With an already impressive career, Jessica may even be considered one of the frontrunners in the Rising Stars programme. She has proven herself to be a quick learner with motorsport flowing through her veins, so it will be very interesting to see how she gets on this season and in the future.

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