Suzanne Dignan secures fastest lap and podium in last race of season
Suzanne Dignan, aged 23, from Barrow upon Soar, Leicestershire secured fastest lap this weekend at Snetterton Race Circuit in the final race of the Formula Woman Championship. It was an outstanding conclusion to the season, with the race itself providing unbelievable drama and excitement, both before and after the chequered flag.
Over 8,000 women entered the competition to be in the final 16 to compete in the 8-race Formula Woman Championship. Suzanne was selected as the 10th quickest of the 100 girls who made it to the Final Elimination Camp. During the dramatic championship this summer, she had her ups and downs, including the bonnet flying off at Pembrey and being punted off at Mallory Park. However, she has been driving faster and faster and has become a little luckier. The penultimate weekend at Brands Hatch saw two good race finishes, a move up the Championship order to 7th overall and a second fastest lap in the process. The final two races at Snetterton Race Circuit in Norfolk continued the progress, and although it was too late to win the individual Championship, the overall team prize was still just possible.
In damp conditions, the Saturday qualifying session resulted in a 4th place on the grid. For the afternoon race it was dry and sunny, and with double points being awarded for the final two races, Suzanne drove a steady race finishing 5th overall, securing 4th fastest lap and moving up to 6th in the Championship. As was emphasized at the briefing, “….you cannot win the Championship in the first race of the weekend, but you can loose it” So the girls noted the advice, drove as fast as possible, but not recklessly, and there were no major incidents - all the drama was to come in the final race!
Sunday dawned damp and misty with the sun trying to break though the low cloud. The qualifying session started with a thin dry line on parts of the circuit, and with conditions improving, the best times were going to come from those who could increase speed to exactly match the improving conditions. With two minutes of the session left, Suzanne was 9th fastest having been baulked on the previous two laps at a couple of key places. As she started her final qualifying lap she had only two cars immediately in front. On the back straight she got a tow off the first one and neatly slipped past before Esses Corner, then after Russell Bend she got a tow from the second car and crossed the line to secure second fastest time and a place on the front row of the grid.
In the race in the afternoon, Suzanne started well but missed a gear and was overtaken into 4th place, and then at Esses she ran wide onto the grass in an attempt to regain places. She maintained control but dropped to 9th place by the time she picked up race speed. So the fight back began, just as it had at Brands Hatch. Over the next four laps she moved steadily through the field to regain 5th place and set fastest lap of the race and the weekend. Then on the final lap, all hell broke loose on Coram Curve with cars spinning in all directions. Suzanne managed to avoid all the carnage, maintain her speed, and cross the line in 3rd place, behind her team mate Michelle who won the race. A podium finish, superb team points and the Formula Woman Team Championship.
Suzanne thanks all her supporters and sponsors for their tremendous help and enthusiasm. It has been extremely close racing and great fun. Early in 2005, when entering the competition with 8,000 other novice women drivers, who could have imagined Suzanne would become the fastest driver and win the Team Championship. It just shows, “If you believe it - you can do it”.
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Steve & Janice Williams