TUESDAY TALK: A history maker in the world of motorsports
Two students have made history at Bourne Academy for different reasons this summer.
But while Ben Jagger became the first student from the school ever to go to Oxford University, with four A*s at A-Level in August, motorsports maiden Abbi Pulling (14) wrote her headlines outside of the classroom.
Abbi, of Gosberton, is the first girl ever to win the coveted Formula Junior TKM Super I British Karting Championship, contested in the past by Formula One world champions Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton.
After clinching the title on “home soil” at Grantham’s Kart PFI circuit, Abbi said: “It was just a case of bringing it home with reasonable results in the last two races of the season.
“I just had to keep the kart on the track and in the final race, I was very aware of where I was so I didn’t want to go for a stupid move and throw it all away.
“It’s pretty amazing what I’ve done and maybe it hasn’t sunk in yet after what was a very close and exciting finish to the championship.”
Formula TKM karting, which Abbi joined in June 2015, is seen as a minimal cost, maximum competition, introduction to motorsports for promising drivers.
Contested over ten rounds at circuits across Great Britain between March and September, Abbi sealed the British junior karting title by just two points, the same margin she narrowly missed out on the championship by last season.
Abbi said: “Last year, I was really upset because in one of the rounds, I was taken off the track and wasn’t able to score any points.
“This season has been hectic, with a lot of emotions in what’s been a very up and down year.
It’s pretty amazing what I’ve done and maybe it hasn’t sunk in yet after what was a very close and exciting finish to the championship
“But my dad Andy Pulling has been there with me all the way through it and I couldn’t have done it without him.”
Team Pulling also includes TKM karting class founder Alan Turney, his company Tal-Ko Racing and the British Women Racing Drivers’ Club (BWRDC) of which Abbi is a member.
But at the heart of it all is Andy who said: “When Abbi goes to the track, the other drivers always want to beat her because they know she’s got a natural talent.
“It’s a team thing, me and Abbi against the world, and it just carries on for us in a sport that’s non-stop.
”That’s how we cope with it and Abbi has done hundreds of miles on track to take on teams with multiple drivers.
“My motorsport career started too late to have a career in it, so I gave up bike racing for Abbi’s karting.
“I couldn’t become the next Valentine Rossi (nine-time World MotoGP champion), but my daughter can be the first Abbi Pulling.”
Abbi’s history-making feats on the race track this season have not gone unnoticed by students and staff at Bourne Academy where she is currently in Year 10.
Speaking on behalf of the entire school, executive head teacher Laurence Reilly said: “This is a fantastic achievement for Abbi who has certainly set the benchmark, not only for other young people when it comes to motor sports, but particularly young women in what is traditionally regarded as a male-dominated sport.
“The students and staff are justly proud of Abbi’s current achievements and we will be eagerly watching as her career develops.
“Abbi is a positive and enthusiastic student who works hard and we are extremely proud that she is a student member at Bourne Academy.”
Lorraine Gathercole, BWRDC chairman, said: “Abbi is an outstanding talent and the Club is excited to be a part of her journey.
“She has already won many of the Club’s awards, including the Mary Wheeler Embassy Club Champion, Junior and Kart Champion trophies, and I am sure her tally will increase as she goes from strength to strength.
“The BWRDC has been nurturing female talent in motorsport for 55 years and despite being in the minority, with only five per cent of licence holder being female, Abbi has shown that it is not an insurmountable obstacle to reach the top in a sport that does not distinguish between the sexes.
“Hopefully in Abbi doing so, it will encourage more participation by girls and we wish Abbi continued success in motorsport where, I have no doubt, she has a bright future.”