British schoolgirl, 12, to represent UAE in France on road to a career in IndyCar Series

One day, Logan Hannah dreams, maybe there will be world recognition as a leading female driver in the male-dominated world of motorsport.
Logan Hannah, 12, was the only girl in a field of 15 drivers, ages 7-14, during the qualifying rounds at the Dubai Kartdrome. Jeff Topping for The National
Logan Hannah, 12, was the only girl in a field of 15 drivers, ages 7-14, during the qualifying rounds at the Dubai Kartdrome. Jeff Topping for The National

One day, Logan Hannah dreams, maybe there will be world recognition as a leading female driver in the male-dominated world of motorsport.

For now, though, she will be happy if she can make enough of a name for herself that people will remember which is her first name and which is the last.

The 12-year-old schoolgirl will represent Dubai and the UAE at the Sodi World Series Junior Sprint Cup at Le Mans in France this weekend.

She qualified last year as the fastest girl in an event that pitches drivers of arrive-and-drive karts, which predominate at most leisure circuits around the world, into competition against each other. Not a bad effort, considering she only took up racing competitively in September.

Before then, she had raced at the occasional birthday party and to pass the time with her younger sister, Nairne, 11.

If she is successful at one of motorsport’s iconic destinations this weekend, it could open doors that might lead to a career in the sport.

If she is really lucky, maybe the announcer at the autodrome will remember that it is “Logan first, and Hannah second”.

“It has been very exciting,” the Greenfield Community School pupil said of the build-up to her first competition on the world stage.

“It feels like it is really happening now, it is not just something I do with my friends on the weekend.”

Her appetite for racing was forged by watching from close quarters as her father, Graeme Hannah, was involved in motorsport in the UAE over the past three years.

As her lap times at the Dubai Kartdrome got faster, Graeme asked those in the know what they thought. “They asked what her best lap was and when I told them they said it was about as fast as possible in the rentals karts,” the Scotsman said.

“The first year we did it [raced on the senior Radical sports car racing circuit] we were running our own car. Logan would get in there with the spanner, jack the car up, jack it back down.

“As much as she has enjoyed coming to the events, she has always said, ‘Daddy, I’d rather be driving’.”

Her motorsport hero – beyond her own household – is Australian Mark Webber because he drove for her favourite team, Red Bull Racing. The retired Formula One driver’s attacking style of racing also appealed. It is a trait prevalent in her own driving, according to her father, who said she is “gritty and courageous” on the track.

Despite her tender years, she understands the need to keep a rein on the emotions during the heat of competition.

“My friend Fraser, who I race against a lot, almost took me out on one of the corners in a race recently,” she said.

“I asked him what happened and that was it, we didn’t even have a fight. If you physically went in to the back of somebody maybe they would feel a little upset with you, but I have never seen anybody throwing punches like the adults do.”

Her ambition is to graduate to the IndyCar Series, where the likes of Danica Patrick, most notably, have shown that female drivers can compete and be successful.

“They don’t treat me any differently, I am still a racer, the same as them,” Logan said of how her rivals take to competing against a girl. “But every so often they do go to one another, ‘Oh, you are slower than a girl!’ Nothing is ever aimed at me, though.

“I do get bumped around quite a lot, but that is usually by people I don’t know and don’t compete against.”

The British schoolgirl will compete against another UAE representative from the Dubai Kartdrome in the 20-person Junior Sprint Cup in Le Mans, Mansour Al Sarrarj.

“For the juniors this is an experience of a lifetime and I am confident that Logan Hannah and Mansour Al Sarrarj will do the Kartdrome proud,” said Kartdrome manager Ryan Trutch.

pradley@thenational.ae

Follow us on Twitter at SprtNationalUAE

Published: May 8, 2014 04:00 AM

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