March 12, 2019
Making the European Team would be a huge deal for Jem and a big boost in her racing career. The benefits of it would include being invited to join FIA Driver Training Camps as well as being supported by the FIA through a sporting and educational motorsport programme.
The Finals would be judged by a high-profile jury with special guests also being present including both Susie Wolff and Arden Motorsport F2 driver Tatiana Calderon. It would be Jem’s first time visiting Le Mans, the venue for the annual IAME International Final and FIA Karting European Championship.
Her adaptability would be tested as she would not only have to learn the track, but also get used to the OK Junior engine. Friday would include coaching giving Jem the chance to work with some of the best coaches and show her ability to take advice and apply it on track.
Saturday would see Jem being put through her paces off track in a series of mental, physical and interactive activities. All of which would be followed by a communications workshop. It was a chance for the girls to be judged on their fitness and was certainly an area where our dedicated Training Days at St George’s Park would have been useful.
The weekend would end with a full day of driving on Sunday which would include elimination rounds. With lap times now being closely monitored one lap pace became crucial and for Jem this was where she was able to shine. She was second fastest in her group as the day went on leading her to be strongly considered for a place in the European Team.
Eventually only six girls would win a place in the team and unfortunately for Jem despite being second quickest all day she would not earn her place due to her experience. It was a difficult decision to take considering how quick she was and how well she had done all weekend.
Ultimately it was nothing Jem had done wrong or not good enough that didn’t lead her to be selected, it was due to her current racing experience and that is not something Jem could change or influence. Instead she would leave disappointed, but at the same time proud of her performance.
Jem Hepworth: “Getting an opportunity to visit Le Mans was a real treat for me. It’s an amazing place and I can’t wait for an opportunity to race at that track. I pushed myself to the limit in every test they threw at me. Fitness, vision, reaction tests, media interviews and driving in OK Junior Karts. I have no regrets at all with my performance. Sadly, despite gaining the fastest times on track Sunday for final day, it was announced that the nine girls chosen for the final in the afternoon, were to be selected on factors other than driving skills alone. This was quite a shock to me! All my hard work on track that day had mounted to nothing. My previous karting experience appeared to be a hindrance and I never expected that would be the case.”
Jem continues: “Despite feeling absolutely gutted, I thanked all the jury judges that I had worked with. I must take the positives. I learned lots from some very experienced racing drivers. I drove my best on the timed laps coming second in my sessions. I met some inspirational people (including Tatiana Calderon). I made friends with some lovely girls from all over Europe. I have another “mama” in Susie Wolff from Motorsport UK. And finally, I’m not giving up! I will push to achieve as much as I can in the World of Motorsport. I had hoped, this opportunity was my path, but it maybe leads me to another. Thank you to Motorsport UK, my Dad for coming with me, Dare to be Different and every single person that showed their support.”
Jem’s next focus will now be on the British Championships which kicks off in just two weeks’ time at PF International.