Three out of four “Bentley Belles” participated in the SPA test & track DAY, co-organized by the Legendary Circuits Series, this Sunday 26 April 2015. This all-female team, consisting off [l-r] Gillian Carr, Georgie Brewster, Katarina Kyvalova and Georgina Riley [not present] will be participating in the Spa 6 Hour event, later this year. With little or no knowledge of the Spa circuit, the team choose to get some mileage under their belts and participate in last Sunday’s SPA test & track DAY.
The Bentley Belles made their first appearance as a team at the Benjafield’s 24 event at the wonderful Portimão circuit, in the south of Portugal, on 4-5 October 2014. Here a field of 21 pre-war cars took part in the first 24-hour event of its type for 75 years. And by doing so, the Bentley Belles were the first all-female team to compete in a Bentley, for 24 hours, ever.
Having fun is the most important thing, though, and it’s that spirit that led to the formation of the Bentley Belles. The idea to run an all-ladies team came after a late-night conversation, where Katarina accepted the challenge. The first hurdle to overcome was that Katarina didn’t know any other female racers in the UK. But with the help of the VSCC, she found the other ‘Bentley Belles’ to complete the team; Georgina Riley, Georgie Brewster and Gillian Carr. Interesting to know is that the team met for the first time, in the Portimão paddock, only the day before the Benjafield’s 24-hour event.
Knowing Big Healeys well, Katarina bought an Austin Healey 3000 MkIII at the Bonhams auction at Goodwood last year. The car is looked after by Paul Woolmer from Woolmer Classic Engineering, and Paul has known the car since he raced against it himself in the 1980s. Katarina’s policy is to keep the car as original as possible, rather than modifying it to win races, but she was still happy with the times she was posting during testing.
At the SPA test & track DAY though, the Bentley Belles used their road cars to have a first taste of, what is one of the last, and truly challenging circuits of today. In the centre of the Ardennes mountains and surrounded by forest, it is easy to understand the appeal of the Spa track to drivers from all around the world. The fast, hilly and twisty nature of the track and one of the most famous and dangerous sections of any racing track in the world, the Eau Rouge and Raidillon complex, make Spa unique. But also the off camber ‘Bruxelles’, the double left hander Pouhon and the ‘Blanchimont’ section add to the experience of racing on such true legendary and challenging circuit.
Having spent only part of the afternoon in the passenger’s seat, Gillian Carr wrote: “Dear Pieter, Thank you so much for the time you spent with the ‘Bentley Belles’ yesterday. In the morning we were all pleased to discover that Spa was not as intimidating as we had anticipated, but we still didn’t have the tactics right. Your assistance in the afternoon was invaluable, and without it, we would not have had the best benefit of our trip. We are now feeling confident for the Spa Six Hour challenge, although we know we have lots of work to do now with understanding our Healey 3000, getting fit and driving in the dark and heavy rain! But, we definitely feel happy about the track, and that’s all thanks to you. A big Bentley Belles thank you.”
You can follow the Bentley Belles on facebook, alternatively twitter and find the Legendary Circuits Series’ Test & Track Days calender, by using the links below.