Swiss lady racer Cyndie Allemann is always ready to prove that women do have a place in motorsports.
Text by Cheryl Tay
Photos by Eric Gilbert
Her life is fully centred around motorsports – managing a kart racing team and business with her family, dating a partner involved in racing too and earning a seat for the 2012 Super GT championship with Hitotsuyama Racing. Cyndie Allemann will be partnering Akihiro Tsuzuki in the Audi R8 LMS for the GT300 class.
The 25-year-old Swiss wanted to race in motorbikes but went into go-karting instead because of her father and brother, both of whom are karting champions. Under their influence and instruction, karting became a family affair and Cyndie competed in her first race at the age of eight.
“I was only about seven years old when I started karting and I wasn’t scared of speed. I’ve always had fun watching my brother and dad racing, and we spent a lot of time karting together as a family. I wasn’t too fast at my first race and I actually crashed!” said Cyndie.
Cyndie worked hard at racing, claiming junior championship titles in Switzerland and Europe in 1999 and 2000. She then drove for a kart factory team in 2003 and moved to single-seaters in 2004 in Formula Renault, before going to Formula 3 in 2006. She was also part of the Mercedes Junior Team from 2004 to 2008. From the German Formula 3 and Formula 3 Euroseries, Cyndie went on to Indy Lights and did testing with DTM and LMP2 cars. In 2010, she raced the 24 hours of Le Mans with a Ford GT1 and came in third for the 1000km of Spa-Francorchamps.
For 2012, Cyndie will be racing in the full season of Super GT and also shifter karts in the Swiss championship. A fan of Formula 1 and MotoGP, Cyndie’s list of favourite drivers include Valentino Rossi and Kimi Raikkonen. When not racing, she works with her brother in a go-kart business called SPIRIT KARTING, where they have a racing team as well as a kart store in Zurich, Switzerland.
Taking her out of the racing suit, we go off track with Cyndie…
Q: Is it essential to have a partner who shares your passion?
A: Of course, racing is my life and if my partner doesn’t understand the sport, it would be difficult to get along but I am very lucky on this side. My partner is also involved in racing and knows this world. He is 100% behind me and supports me on my choice. He gets very happy when something good happens to me. It helps a lot in a relationship to share the same interest, as it gives you a lot to talk about and you feel understood and supported – this strengthens the relationship.
Q: What do you think about females competing in motorsports?
A: Motorsports is really a sport as much for females as it is for men. As long as the woman is not afraid about speed, she can be as fast as the boys. Of course, physically a woman needs to work harder to be able to hold a steering wheel but if she really wants it, she will make it. Therefore, I really want to fight against people thinking that women don’t have a place in motorsports.
Q: How do you feel about being female in this male-dominated world?
A: I am in the racing world for so long now that I am used to being surrounded by men. Sometimes, I am still surprised at how people react when they see a girl behind the wheel and how they will judge a girl much quicker than a boy. Sometimes I am the only female on the grid, but other times there are two or three of us ladies. I am very happy when I look at the karting paddock now, as there are much more female drivers now compared to 10 years ago and I really hope they will make it to car racing.
Q: Have you faced any form of discrimination for being female?
A: Unfortunately yes. We female drivers always have to fight to get the respect.
Q: Are there advantages or disadvantages about being a female in such male-dominated territory?
A: Yes there are disadvantages like getting the respect of your team and other drivers and we have to constantly prove ourselves in racing. On the other hand, we also have advantages as there are not so many female drivers, so people notice you easier. We can also represent sponsors who want a bit more feminism in the presentation of their product.
Q: What do you think about the stereotype that females make lousier drivers than males?
A: I laugh about it. You know, I even joke about women on the road. Some are really terrible and scared behind the wheel, so sometimes when I don’t drive well, I say that I am driving like a girl! It makes my team and engineer laugh and everybody is more relaxed. But actually on a race track, a woman is much more precise and smoother in the way she drives – that’s what also makes a female driver good.
Q: Do you think males naturally make better drivers than females?
A: No not at all. If you take a field of 500 drivers, it will be like 492 men and probably 8 women, so of course in terms of the absolute numbers it will seem like the men drive better. However, if there were more women in the field you wouldn’t see so much of a difference.
Q: What would you say to females out there who want to try their hand at competitive motorsports but are afraid to?
A: Be strong and confident. If you believe in yourself, it doesn’t matter what people say or think, keep working hard and it will work out.
Look out for Cyndie when the 2012 Super GT championship comes to Sepang International Circuit in June!
Name: Cyndie Allemann
DOB: 4 April 1986
Residence: Moutier, Switzerland
Hobbies: Karting, cycling, fitness, shopping
*This was first published in REV.