Rachael's life in the fast lane
PUBLISHED: 15:41 16 June 2012 | UPDATED: 21:30 20 February 2013
Sarah Ford talks to a young woman who has swapped her saddle for a steering wheel and entered the exciting world of motorsport
Rally driver Rachael Patterson has been mad about cars for as long as she can remember and passed her test within a few weeks of turning 17.
Since then she has been keen to try her hand at motorsport but for several years her time and finances have been tied up with another passion show jumping.
It wasnt until her horse Spud retired that she felt the time had come to try something new and she knew from the off that she was going to love rallying.
I headed up to North Wales for a day to see if I had what it takes and caught the bug big time, says 24-year-old Rachael, from Yate near Bristol.
In a Peugeot 106 called Percy, Rachael has been competing in this years BTRDA Rally Championships and is delighted with her progress.
Finishing fourth in her class at the Somerset Stages in April, Rachael and her co-driver Josh Davison were grinning like a pair of Cheshire cats.
I gave Percy the biggest car hug a girl can give and then giant hugs with all the family, says Rachael.
It was not just about finishing the rally, but knowing how far we have come in just a few short months from deciding to do this sport.
Rachel opted to go for gravel rallying which she says can be like driving on marbles.
Its harder doing gravel than tarmac and a bit more costly due to wear and tear on the car but it is a bit more edgy.
I am slowly learning and Ive not had too many prangs. During my first race the weather was icy and snowy (there were 15 cars that did not start) and on the final stage I felt like I was getting to grips with things. Then I took it too fast and backed into a tree. We were pushed back in by everyone spectators
jumped in to help.
Rachael, who works at the RAC in Bristol and comes from the chocolate making Fry family, says she would not be able to do any of this without the support of her family, including step father Michael who helped to build the car.
She also feels lucky to have found her patient and confident co-driver 17- year-old Josh.
And it seems that years of horse riding has proved useful in preparing Rachael for the sport.
You need to be very fit when you are rallying and having a strong horse that pulls my arms off is useful.
Rallying is hard work its a mix of concentration and a bit of nerves - but I love not knowing where Im going while Josh shouts the notes at me.
I love being able to tear it up round a forest. I get really nervous the day before and when I get in the car I think: Why do I do this? But as soon as I leave service Im fine. I love every minute of it.
To follow Rachaels progress visit rachaelpattersonmotorsport.co.uk