A teenage rally driver from Wyre has vowed to carry on racing, despite suffering a near-miss in a competition which claimed three lives.
Georgia Shiels,18, and co-driver Tom Woodburn,19, lost control of their rally car, which turned on its roof after clipping a tree stump during a major rally in Kelso, Scotland.
The pair’s miraculous escape came a day before the 44th Jim Clark Rally was cancelled after three spectators were killed. A racing car ploughed into bystanders during the Swinton stage of the event. The incident, happened around 4pm on Saturday, May 31.
Lancaster Grammar School student Georgia, from Catterall, near Garstang, had just arrived home from Scotland as news of the of the tragedy broke.
She said: “I’d just got home when I heard – everyone is just devastated. It put everything into perspective and lots of people have struggled with it.”
The fatal crash unfolded after a racing car careered into four spectators – just two hours after another car collided into five people at the same event.
The earlier crash, which took place around 2pm, left one man in intensive care, while another two men were treated for fractures.
For the former Garstang High School pupil, the event marked her debut in the Junior British Rally Championship.
The aspiring driver lined up against 30 competitors for the eight-stage race, held in the Borders area of Scotland, around the town of Duns.
Georgia and Tom rolled out at stage seven Tweeside after losing control of her newly built Abarth 500 R1 rally car.
She said: “We were both absolutely fine, the car took a knock but it just shows how safe the cars are built. Up until then we were going very well, setting a good pace for my first hard surface rally. It was more frustrating as it was unexpected, we even tried to get the car going again. It is unfortunate but part of rally driving.”
She added: “It is my first accident – it is daunting but I think the adrenaline was still pumping after completing the more difficult stage around Abbey St Baphems.
“I really wanted to complete the race but I’m undeterred and now I’m just looking forward to getting behind the wheel again.”
Georgia will complete her exams this week before setting her sights on her next competition, the Scottish Rally next month.
She said: “It has definitely been my release from all the exam study – I’ve two more to go and then I have the championship to look forward to, I’ve five events overall.”
Georgia plans to have a year out after completing her studies but her ultimate aim is to carve a career on the track.
She said: “I am a bit of a nutter but I can’t think of anything else I’d rather do – fingers crossed. It’s early days. I want to build on my experience and I’m determined.”
For more information visit Georgia’s Facebook fan page: www.facebook.com/pages/Georgia-Shiels-Rallying.