Motorsport

Published: Tuesday December 3, 2013 MYT 8:06:00 PM
Updated: Tuesday December 3, 2013 MYT 8:11:00 PM

Siti Shahkirah: Girls can race too!

Malaysia's Siti Shakirah Shaharul (left) will team up with Brunei's Siti Zirwatul Iradah Awang Adinin for the 2013 Red Bull Rookies Sepang 1,000km Endurance Race on Saturday.

Malaysia's Siti Shakirah Shaharul (left) will team up with Brunei's Siti Zirwatul Iradah Awang Adinin for the 2013 Red Bull Rookies Sepang 1,000km Endurance Race on Saturday.

SUBANG JAYA: Budding racer Siti Shahkirah Shaharul is set to carve a piece of history by becoming the youngest female driver at the 2013 Red Bull Rookies Sepang 1,000km Endurance Race on Saturday.

It’s a milestone for the 19-year-old, who is taking the challenge to heart as she aims to prove that girls can cut the mustard in a sport dominated by men.

“Girls are always viewed as the weaker gender. Maybe we used to be, but I think not any more. I want to change people’s perspectives and show that girls can race too. We’re no pushovers, we’re just as capable as the boys. And I want to inspire girls out there to try and chase their racing dream,” said Shahkirah, who is a product of the 2011 Red Bull Under-21 programme.

Like most racing drivers, Shahkirah’s love for the sport began with her father Shaharul Mohd Ali taking her karting in Subang Jaya at the age of six. But it was only three years later, at the age of nine, that she decided to start racing.

Her biggest accomplishments so far were winning both the Malaysian and Asian Rotax Challenge in 2010. The Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) TESL undergraduate also went on to represent Malaysia at the Rotax Grand Final in La Conca, Italy – finishing 54th out of 72 racers and the only Malaysian to finish the semi-finals.

On her race this Saturday, Shahkirah will team up with Siti Zirwatul Iradah Awang Adinin, a 25-year-old traffic policewoman from Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei.

“I love a challenge and what better way than to test myself here ... I’m grateful to Red Bull for giving me the opportunity to live my dream,” Shahkirah said.

“I tested the car last month and everything checked out. I’m very excited ... a little bit scared and nervous too.

“I think that apart from the result, I’m just really looking forward to the experience. I know it will be quite challenging, but I know I can do it.

“Everyone who enters a race wants to win ... I mean who doesn’t? I’d love to win, that’s my personal goal, but the team’s goal is to finish the race. So, this time, winning will have to take a back seat. I want us to finish the race first.”

The Red Bull Rookies programme was initiated in 2008 with the sole purpose of unearthing and nurturing budding female motorsport talents in Malaysia by providing them with access to racing professionally. The programme was later extended to Brunei (2010) and Singapore (2011).

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