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Susie Wolff is walking in the paddock
at last weekend’s Race of Champions
with a local Barbadian driver when a
spectator calls from the crowd, “who’s your
She does not bat an eyelid — she has
When she takes to the car for the first
time in practice, a dumbfounded Petter
Solberg, a former world rally champion,
turns to her and says ‘wow, you can
Wolff, the first woman driver in Formula
One for 20 years, is amused rather than
irritated. With a smile she says, “I felt
like saying ‘why do you think I’m at the
Race of Champions?’ I’m a woman it does
not count for much — woman or man
when you come out on track it’s about
At the same time she is well aware the
fact she is female in the higher echelons of
motorsport is her unique selling point and
she cannot recall a single inter view when
gender has not been brought up.
The 32-year-old Scot is a trailblazer for
her sport and her gender: the first woman
to score points in the DTM (German
touring cars) series for 20 years, the first
to ever at the Race of Champions and,
most tellingly, the first to compete in a
competitive session at a grand prix for
22 years when she tested for Williams at
Silverstone last season.
As the team’s official test driver for next
season, she will become an F1 regular
although admits the next step to a fully
fledged race seat may never materialise.
“I ’m very ambitious but realistic,” she
says. “ I’m happy to have made it to F1. I ’d
love to get on the start and do a race, and
I’d like that to be in a Williams. We have
two great racing drivers and, if something
should happen, yes, it would be great to
race. I’m a great believer that if you knock
on enough doors and stay at the level
maybe an opportunity comes. ”
To get to that point, there have been
critics, those suggesting she has only
made it to certain positions because of her
gender as a marketing tool for teams and
David Coulthard disputes that.
Coulthard has raced against Wolff at
DTM and partnered her to the runners-
up spot at the Race of Champions Nations
Cup at the weekend.
“S he’s talented, she’s got speed,” he says.
“The difficulty, which is the same as any
other racer male or female, is that being
good isn’t enough — being exceptional
is what Lewis Hamilton and Fernando
Alonso are. That ’s the big challenge.”
Wolff ’s parents met when her mother
Sally walked into a shop to buy a
motorbike from her father John, and
motoring was in the lifeblood for the
Stoddart (her maiden name) family from
her day one.
Her parents instilled in her the idea that
she had as much right from day one as any
boy to be on any grid.
“I have an older brother only 18 months
older and they never differentiated: ‘you
play Barbie and your brother’s on the
motorbike’,” she recalls. “ I was well into
racing before I realised there weren’t any
girls and they never made me believe
as a woman I couldn’t have the same
There have been tough moments on the
way up to F1. There were the Mercedes
team-mates asking how her breasts coped
with the bumps on the track or the pink
car she was made to drive in DTM.
She hated it but at the same time, as
always seems to be her custom, she saw
the positives. “It was such a clich? —
blonde girl in pink car — and I didn’t like
it at all but the sponsor wanted it. Then
so many girls came up to me and their
fathers said ‘we only came to the race to
see the pink car’.”
Growing up, there were few female
motor-racing idols to aspire to but Wolff
hopes she can be one, even if, “it is just one
little girl watching on tv and thinking F1
is not just for boys”.
At Williams, now, there are two in
her and deputy team principal Claire
Williams, the two bonding over those that
have questioned their place in the sport,
with Williams’ critics pointing out that she
is the daughter of team founder Frank.
Both have had to work harder than
their male counterparts to earn respect,
Williams doing so with an integral part
in the team’s turnaround in fortunes in
2014 and Wolff with what she does in the
“Coming to new environments people
look at you and think ‘what ’s this blonde
lady doing, she thinks she can drive a
racing car’ but you work hard, keep your
head down and show that you’re actually
capable,” she says.
“As a woman people judge you on your
looks regardless of the fact you’re just there
to race. So you have this very fine line of
trying to look good as you’re representing
your team and sponsors but then people
say ‘she’s only there for marketing’. So you
say ‘who cares?’, go out and carry on and
let them talk about it.”
Watching Wolff over the course of a race
weekend, were it not for the fact she is
constantly asked about it, one suspects she
would not give her gender a thought when
racing. But a driver labelled “the fastest
woman in the world” cannot escape that
Having fought to get to that point, she
and her husband, Mercedes executive
director Toto Wolff, have delayed plans for
As well as sexism towards her, she has
also had to deal with suggestions of
nepotism — Wolff was on the Williams
board when his wife was first signed by
He left the boardroom when any
discussions turned to his wife and she
says: “I ’m a racing driver and he’s a private
investor so there’s no conflict of interest as
they ’re completely different roles. Rather
than it being a difficult situation it ’s a huge
advantage. He understands what I’m up
against in the world of F1. ”
On the rare weekends they have off the
F1 circus, they like to go ice racing, the
end result normally spent with the loser
sulking for the evening.
It is Wolff ’s husband who has truly given
her the self-belief to continue with her
quest to F1. He said to me: “Don’t care
what anyone says, you have to walk into
the paddock with your head held high.
You make sure you look good and you do
things for me.”
— New Zealand Herald
PICTURE: New Zealand Herald
The fastest woman in the world Susie Wolff.
Formula One driver battles for gender equality
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Indian opener Murali
Vijay put Australia to the
sword in their Brisbane
fortress with a brilliant
144 to help drive the
tourists to 311 for four at
the close of play on the
opening day of the second
The 30-year-old shared
an opening partnership
of 56 with Shikhar
Dhawan, stalled a little in
the sweltering heat after
lunch and then opened
up after reaching his fifth
test century in the final
His innings came to an
end after five and a half
hours when he stepped
down the pitch in search
of a 23rd boundary and
was caught behind off
Nathan Lyon, Australia’s
off-spinning hero from
their 48-run victory in the
“It was mentally
challenging but when
you are playing for your
country you’ve got to do
your stuff to the best of
your ability,” Vijay told reporters.
“ You can only go close to perfection, I
think I did pretty well today.”
Ajinkya Rahane, who shared a 124-run
partnership with Vijay, will resume on
75 not out on day two along with Rohit
Sharma (26) as India look to inflict a first
defeat on Australia at the Gabba since 1988.
It was a tough first day as stand-in
Australia skipper for Steve Smith, who lost
Mitchell Marsh to a hamstring problem
after the all-rounder had claimed his first
test victim in Dhawan with the only wicket
to fall before lunch.
Debutant paceman Josh Hazlewood was
also forced to leave the field midway through
his 16th over, having taken his first two test
wickets after lunch.
A miserable day for the Marsh family
was compounded when Mitchell’s brother
Shaun, recalled to replace injured captain
Michael Clarke, dropped Vijay on 36 and
again on 102.
“Eventful day,” Australia coach Darren
Lehmann said. “ Would be nice to have a full
contingent out there.
“ We’ve got get back in the game, they
outplayed us today.”
Vijay had illustrated his rich vein of form
with knocks of 53 and 99 in the first test
in Adelaide and fully vindicated returning
skipper captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s
decision to bat first after winning the toss.
Grabbing his third half century of the
series with a drive through the covers for
four in the first over after lunch, he was
then forced to weather a period of pressure
as Hazlewood removed Cheteshwar Pujara
(18) and Virat Kohli (19).
Vijay kept his cool through a second
session in which the tourists were only able
to add 62 runs to their lunch score of 89-1
but hit his stride again when the bowlers
tired in the afternoon sun.
Successive fours off Shane Watson took
him to his century but he initially looked
unaware of having reached the milestone
before whipping off his helmet and raising
his bat to the visitors’ dressing room.
Sandra Skates and Shane
Pascoe will play in the regional
play-offs in Marlborough on
March 2-3, after winning the
Nancy McTaggart National
Mixed bowls pairs at the
Blaketown green last weekend.
Three teams played off on
Sunday, with Jeannette Keith
and Graham Forsyth proving
too strong for Colleen Lalor
and Jordan Campbell in the
The final score after 11 ends
was 15-8 .
In the final, Skates and Pascoe
led 6-4 after five ends and
increased their score to 11-5
Despite Keith and Forsyth
scoring a three on the 10th end,
Skates and Pascoe were able to
take the game, 14-8.
Karoro’s Madeline McGee
claimed her first women’s
championship title this week,
eliminating both her mother
Peg McGee and Mary Keating
in the singles in consecutive
games. The scores were 21-9 and
McGee now goes on to
compete against all other clubs
at the Champion of Champion
women’s event on January 24-
25, at the Karoro green.
Karoro’s Mer v Pascoe claimed
his fourth championship title for
the season, also at the weekend.
In the post-section singles
he beat Bradley Dixon 21-15,
claiming one life.
Dixon then eliminated both
Gus Connor and Jim Findlay,
and then met Pascoe again in
the final. That score was 21-11
Pascoe also goes on to the
Champion of Champion men’s
event, in January at the Karoro
The Westland Funeral Ser vices
Men’s Inter-club Sevens will
be played at two greens this
weekend — Hokitika for the
first division, and Karoro for the
India’s Murali Vijay plays a shot in yesterday’s day one of the second test match against Australia at The
Gabba, in Brisbane.
Indian opener Vijay
scores dazzling ton
Australian Rohan Dennis will
attempt to claim cycling’s fabled
hour record early next year
amid reports countryman Jack
Bobridge will also launch a bid.
Bobridge, the 4km individual
pursuit world record holder, and
Dennis have track pedigree.
Australia’s team pursuit squad
which finished runners-up to
Great Britain at the London
Bobridge is expected to
announce details of his record
attempt in Melbourne on
Thursday, though it is expected to
take place next year in Australia.
BMC Racing’s Dennis, whose
attempt will take place in
Switzerland in February, said on
cyclingnews.com: “ When I look
at my experience on the track
and the numbers I have been
doing on the track and road, it’s
“As long as I don’t get too
excited at the start and control
my ner ves, the pacing will take
care of itself.”
Sir Bradley Wiggins has
already stated the hour is on his
agenda for next June, with many
predicting the six-time world
track champion will set a long-
Cycling legends such as Eddy
Merckx and Chris Boardman
made the hour mark famous.
Austria’s Matthias Brandle set
the current mark, with a distance
of 51.852km, in October, after
cycling’s world governing body,
the UCI, revised regulations to
make the Hour more appealing.
Multiple world time-trial
champions Fabian Cancellara
of Switzerland and Germany’s
Tony Martin have also been
linked with attempts.
Dame Sarah Storey, the 11-
time Paralympic champion,
will bid for the women’s record
in London on February 28.
South Sydney coach Michael Maguire
has promised Rabbitohs fans that the NRL
premiers are well prepared for life without
Burgess is favoured to win the prestigious
Golden Boot award tomorrow as the world
player of the year after inspiring Souths to a
drought-breaking first grand final triumph
The Rabbitohs want to become the
first team to land back-to-back NRL
premierships in 22 years but they will have
to do it without the Bath-based Burgess
who is chasing a place in England’s 2015
Rugby World Cup squad.
Maguire is banking on big-name recruits
Glenn Stewart and Tim Grant as well as
the club’s emerging young for wards to fill
the void of the colossal Clive Churchill
“ We all know what Sam meant to the
club and obviously he’s left a great legacy
behind,” Maguire said yesterday.
“But for us now, that chapter has finished
up and I’ve got a Timmy Grant and Glenn
Stewart coming in and I’ve got a lot of
young kids that are going into the squad.
They ’re all very hungry.”
Insisting there is no complacency in the
ranks, Maguire is hoping his decision to
take the squad to Arizona for 18 days’
pre-season training will freshen his charges
up for the challenges ahead.
“ We had a lot of different experiences as a
group together,” he said.
“ Whether or not we were going up and
down the Grand Canyon or climbing large
mountains, the boys put a lot of effort into
the training they did at altitude.
“ We’re well aware of the bar every year
going to new heights.”
As well as being without Burgess, the
Rabbitohs have also lost State of Origin
for ward Ben Te’o to rugby union, while
grand final centre Kirisome Auva’a has been
suspended indefinitely after being found
guilty of assaulting his ex-girlfriend.
Also, veteran wingers Lote Tuqiri and
Nathan Merritt have retired.
Maguire said “the euphoria of what ’s
happened (in 2014) makes you want more
of that ”.
After eight years at Penrith, Grant
admitted joining the Rabbitohs was “a little
bit daunting” at first.
“I’ve been at Penrith for a long time,” said
the former NSW State of Origin prop.
But I got the opportunity to go away with
the boys and live with them for two weeks
and that made the transition a lot easier.
“I’m living down in the eastern suburbs
now and I’m really part of the community,
so it’s been awesome.
“ To be honest, I don’t feel like I’ve got
anything to prove to anyone.”
Souths have a bumper programme before
embarking on their title defence.
The Rabbitohs contest the two-day
Auckland Nines from January 31, take on
St George Illawarra in the Charity Shield
at ANZ Stadium on February 7 and then
feature in the inaugural World Club
Challenge series in the United Kingdom.
Skates, Pascoe in regional play-offs
Australia’s Dennis to attempt cycle record
Rabbitohs ready for life after Burgess
of the Westport News
Increasing costs and red tape could
kill the Buller Gorge Marathon, says its
The marathon, Buller’s biggest sporting
event, attracts thousands of visitors to
Westport every February.
Dennis Straker has organised it for 29
of its 33 years. He said it ran its biggest
loss — which he declined to reveal —
this year because of fewer entries and
Mr Straker said he had met Buller
Mayor Garry Howard recently to seek
more council support.
“ For years and years we’ve had diddly
squat support from council. Is 2015
going to be the last Buller Gorge
New regulations meant the cost of
the marathon’s special liquor licence for
Victoria Square had skyrocketed from
$55 to $575, Mr Straker said.
He feared the council’s new rubbish
contractor, Smart Environmental Ltd,
would demand a hefty fee for rubbish
collection ser vices, which used to be
provided by Blue Bin at a nominal cost.
He said the marathon committee had
refused to pay what SEL wanted this
year. SEL had agreed to treat the event
as a PR exercise as it had recently taken
over the council’s rubbish and recycling
Some years ago, the council had told
the marathon to obtain $2 million
public liability cover for closing off part
of Russell Street during the race. The
marathon had refused because the cover
was double that sought by the New
Zealand Transport Authority, which
administered all the other roads the
Mr Straker said the marathon had
never applied for funding from council’s
community grants scheme because it
believed other local groups needed the
The marathon had funded itself,
including spending $65,000 on a new
electronic timing system.
It had kept marathon entry fees down
to encourage people to keep coming.
However, if times got tougher it might
have to stop giving donations to local
organisations who helped with the event.
Next year’s marathon clashes with the
World Cup cricket game between New
Zealand and Pakistan in Christchurch.
Mr Straker said he was not worried
race entries would suffer. Early bird
registrations had closed up about 300
entries on last year’s.
But he is worried about who will take
over as race organiser when he has had
enough. Red tape and the liability for
the organiser meant no-one was keen,
“At the end of the day, even though
you have got a committee behind you, if
something happens it’s my neck on the
The mayor had promised to think about
his request for more council support and
come back to him.
“If the town wants the Buller
Gorge Marathon to keep on going,
we are going to need some sort
of assistance and some sort of
Ghost Road Enduro
mountainbike race held
between Ghost Lake Hut
and Lyell, on the Old
Ghost Road, has sold out.
The enduro is the first
official event to be staged
on the Old Ghost Road.
Dropped deep into the
region’s backcountry by
helicopter, entrants will
race four stages over
30km, descending over
1400 vertical metres,
making it the longest
descending race of its
type in the country.
The Buller Cycling
Club will host the event
on January 31.
Race director Adam
Walker said interest was
more than he could have
all available spots sold
within the first 24 hours
of registrations opening.”
The field was a mix
from all over New
Zealand, with nearly half
coming from Canterbury.
A handful of riders will
come from Europe,
America and Canada.
“The Old Ghost Road
really is something special
for our region. For any
event to gather this much
momentum in its first
year shows the potential
to be significant,” Walker
“ Now our focus is
putting the final touches
on our planning to ensure
we come through with
something truly special
for those making the
— Westport News
Bike race sells out
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