At the age of only 18 years old, Catie Munnings became the first British person to win a European rallying title in 49 years when she triumphed in the FIA European Rallying Championship Ladies Trophy in 2016. Since then, she has been shortlisted for The Sunday Times Young Sportswoman of the Year, been named a 2017 UK Brand Ambassador for Peugeot and worked alongside Susie Wolff with the initiative ‘Dare to be Different’. We asked her about her career so far and her advice for youngsters looking to follow in her footsteps.
Catie has never been a stranger to motorsport with her father having raced throughout her childhood in rallying. “I used to go to work with him and sit in the rally cars when I was very young,” she told us. “He had a motorsport entertainment company when I was growing up, and I was always involved in that – even though I never drove a rally car until I was 17”.
Having first driven a rally car in her late teens, Munnings’s first experience was in the same year in Morzine, France when she drove in a 208 R2 (rally car) in a Peugeot test. Speaking of it she said she was “straight in at the deep end… with fresh air drops off the side of the road” adding that the feeling of it was “amazing”.
Catie immediately fell in love with all aspects of rallying. “The adrenaline is much more for me in rallying than racing,” she explained. “There is so much spontaneity in the driving and car control to adapt to changing conditions.”
 Catie collecting her Ladies Trophy, credit: FIA European Rally Championship[/caption]
In her first year of rallying, Catie won the FIA European Rallying Championship Ladies Trophy which came as a shock even to her, describing it as “phenomenal”. “I never expected a title like that in my first year in the sport,” she said. “I always compare my results to the boys, I was very pleased with my progress that year to get that title”.
The European Rallying Championship works slightly differently to other series of motorsport with a trophy being awarded at the end of the season to the best performing female, hence the Ladies Trophy she won. However, it is clear Munnings has her sight set on the overall title, and beating the boys.
To further add to Catie’s achievements in 2017, she was also shortlisted for The Sunday Times Young Sportswoman of the Year. “It is great to see motorsports up there with mainstream sports, and to be getting the recognition on behalf of the sport is really important,” she said.
“The more we can do individually to promote the sport, the more it will grow, and the more opportunities there will be. The other contenders were very inspirational, it was an amazing night full of dedicated athletes, and it was a real privilege to be there.”
Although she is immensely proud of such awards, Catie must now focus on the future with the aim of always improving from her last event. “This year I have not had a full budget for things like testing and tyres, and in the end, this really makes a difference. But we have been exceeding our, and our team’s expectations in terms of progress, so we will carry this on to next year,” she told us.
Having achieved so much at the age of only 20, Munnings felt it was important to get involved with ‘Dare to be Different’. Asking her how proud she was, she said: “Very proud! It’s a great organisation and I have seen many girls’ mindsets change in just a day, now they have launched in Germany too I really think this will open the eyes of the next generation to the possibilities in the industry, irrespective of your gender.”
“] Munnings with D2BD founder Susie Wolff, credit @Catierallye1
She also has some advice for those young girls she hopes to inspire with the initiative. “I would say contact your role models and mentors and ask for advice, join your local motor club and start where you can,” she said. “When you are mixing with like-minded people, the opportunities will open up, and your experience will grow. Rallying is all about experience, in every aspect of the sport, not just the driving, so getting as involved as you can will really help…. and dream big!”
Catie Munnings is proving that no matter your age and gender, you can succeed if you have natural talent and the right people around you to guide and advise. With a long career ahead of her, Catie can only go onto bigger and better things and that includes winning the overall European Rally Championships in both the junior and senior categories. She is a brilliant role model for all and through her role with D2BD hopes to inspire the female rally drivers of the future.
(heading picture credit: Redbull.com)