Very few women make it into the top ranks of motor sport but here's one who stands a better chance than most of cracking it. I first met Nikki Welsby when she took part in the Independent's Verdict test of the Mitsubishi CZC last year. At that time, she was among the carefully selected hundred hopefuls – of 10,000 that originally applied – vying for one of sixteen places in the 2006 Formula Woman championship, a race series designed to give women a chance to break through into motor sport. I was so impressed with Nikki's determination to succeed that I persuaded the Independent to publish a separate feature on her efforts shortly afterwards.
Nikki subsequently went on to win a place on last year's Formula Woman grid, and then, on a dramatic last day of racing, she won the championship as well. Nikki has since used her Formula Woman title to further her long-held ambition of competing on a fully competitive mixed grid, and this year she has been taking part in the Clio Cup series – that's her with her car below.
But even with the advantage of the Formula Woman title behind her, just like every other aspiring racer, Nikki is always looking for new sponsorship and has to spend as much time chasing cheques as she does in pursuit of the chequered flag if she is going to keep the show on the road this season.
I should probably add that anyone sponsoring Nikki is likely to get a lot more than just a large prominently-placed sticker on her Clio race car. In my opinion, Nikki represents one of the more interesting stories around in motor sport at the moment – and it costs a lot less to get a piece of the action with Nikki than it does with Lewis Hamilton!
Nikki is also an accomplished media performer and has several TV, radio and press appearances to her credit. The Formula Woman selection process was covered in a Channel 4 TV documentary, 'Girl Racers' last year, while the race series itself was covered in a series of broadcasts on Motors TV; Nikki has secured several other appearances in local and national media as well.
If you are interested, you can find out more about Nikki and her progress, as well as the possibilities for sponsoring her, at her website www.nikkiwelsby.com.