Interview conducted by Tom Evans, Edited by Simran Kanthi
The Ginetta Junior Championship is one of the most popular sports car series in the UK that aims at drivers aged between 14-17. Some of its most notable alumni include F1 driver Lando Norris and Williams Academy member Zak O'Sullivan. Each year a scholarship is held with the prize offering being a full 2022 season of Ginetta juniors’, including test days and full insurance. Given the insane prices of motorsports nowadays, these scholarships are very competitive.
Divebomb was lucky enough to sit down with Alisha Palmowski, Ginetta Junior Scholarship Winner 2022.
A very clichéd question, but how did you get into Motorsport?
“My great-grandad was actually a Stock car racing driver, so my grandad and dad have been in the motor trade ever since. I've always grown up with the influence of motorsport around me, watching Formula 1, going to tracks, that kind of thing. It was sort of by fluke, to be honest. During the six weeks holiday at school when I was around 8, I went on a corporate ‘arrive and drive’ session with my grandparents at a normal indoor karting circuit. I wasn't that quick back then and my racing line was a bit dodgy but I absolutely loved it and completely got hooked.”
You competed in the Daniel Riccardo Series, a karting series, from 2019 onwards. Now lots of people reading might not have heard of this one, so could you tell us a bit about it and how it's different from other karting championships?
"We were racing in an indoor karting championship for two years and then we were assessing our options because we always wanted to get into owner-driver karting and go to the national championships and compete across the UK, as that was the natural transition.
"We crawled through different options with various different championships but what really attracted us to the Daniel Riccardo Series was that it is a single-make series, so everybody has the exact same engine and chassis. From my perspective, it is all down to pure driver skill to make the difference in results."
The transition from karts to cars is a mixed bag for most drivers, with some smoothly moving over whilst some taking a while to find their feet. When asked about her plans on the transition to cars, Alisha replied:
"I had always aspired to do the Ginetta Junior Championship due to it being the highest level of junior motorsport in the UK, and it gives a great platform to develop as a driver. We assessed our options to get into the championship and the scholarship was the best option as usually a huge budget is required. After a test day at Blyton Park, I was 100% convinced that Ginetta Junior was the way I wanted to go."
After just missing out on the scholarship in 2020, Alisha took home the winners trophy in 2021, meaning she had won a fully funded season for 2022. But what was her initial reaction?
"I'm still pinching myself about it to this day, it was absolutely immense. The pressure was massive in the final as you've got Charlie Robinson [Le Mans driver] sitting next to you, silently assessing your 3-lap run. I went last as well meaning I had to watch everyone else do their laps before I did mine!
"It was only at pre-season testing that it really sank in that I'd won a full season of racing, so I was absolutely over the moon. After the scholarship win, I was bombarded with interviews, which was also pretty insane as I felt kind of famous for a bit which was fun!"
How would you say the season has gone so far from your perspective, and are there any specific targets you've set yourself for the remainder of the year?
"I would say that the season has been a challenging one so far. We have had some unlucky situations, so I don't think we've got the results of where we deserve to be. The learning curve is very steep. Being on the grid with Preptech is great, they always try to help you find that extra tenth.
"Pre-season I just wanted to progress up the grid and improve round on round. For the rest of the season, a rookie win would be the main target, it would be amazing if I could meet that."
Finally, do you have any plans for 2023?
"We are looking at doing Ginetta's again next year, and I'm hoping that we can get the funding. Challenging for outright podiums would be my target."
Alisha would like to particularly thank her sponsors Dansoft Aviation Services and The Proceed Group for their help throughout the year.
As with most drivers, she is constantly seeking sponsorship.
Thank you very much to Alisha for taking the time to sit down with me for this interview, and the Divebomb team wishes her the best of luck for the rest of the season.