Recently we caught up with the ladies of Red Bull MME Race Team, they are the infamous Leona Chin, the sexy Norlina Johor, the sultry Putri Ayu Jasmin and of course, the quiet but wickedly fast, NorBaizura Ruslan. These gorgeous and quick lasses are the winners of last years Red Bull Female Driver Search that attracted more than 600 participants and they emerged as the cream of the crop.
Getting up close and personal (within limits of course, some of them are married!!) with them was quite an experience, they may look reserved, but trust me, it was quite a feat to get them to answer our questions, instead we were the ones being interviewed, so together with all the fun and laughter, here we are sharing with you what they think of guys that can’t drive, what it takes to be a female racer and of course, whether or not they use their attractiveness to distract other male drivers, read on:
Have you ever used your attractivenes to distract other drivers before a race?
No, not really, maybe a smile.
Does that give you any advantages during the race?
No, none that I noticed but I hope so.
Right then, how did you get started in motor racing?
When i was 16 i got along with my friends who were mostly guys and they were all into cars. We hung out a lot and went for car events and shows and that made me start to like cars.
So were you a sort of a tomboy back then?
*laughs* NO!! But I was the only girl in a group of guys.
Who are the drivers you look up to? Any inspirations?
My trainer Kenvin Loh, he’s a good driver and a good coach.
Thats good, how about any professional inspirations?
For professional drifting inspirations it most definately has to be Keiji Tsuchiya, for F1, it has to be Kimi
Are you into the entire Initial D thing?
No, not at all actually.
So what do you think of the Malaysian drift scene?
Its definately grown much bigger than before and it’s tougher now because the competition is much stronger.
Are you the only girl competing in Malaysia now?
No, not in Malaysia, there’s a Korean girl as well I don’t know her name. There’s another Malaysian female drifter but she has a child now so I guess she’s busy with that.
So are they all as good as you?
*laughs* We competed against each other once and she beat me.
So what are your achievements so far and what are your aims for your future?
Well, not much really, there was a go-kart endurance race once and I came in third. For the MME, I definately want to qualify and finish the race. We have to train harder to do better then maybe I can take a look at moving on to another team.
Do you think that just because you’re female it’s harder for you to accomplish something in a male dominated racing world?
No I don’t think so, it’s not difficult and there’s equal opportunity for all. Look at Danica Patrick, if she can
make it, why not me? Phillippa Yong is another example and she’s someone that I look up to as well, she’s a fast
Do you think guys are fast drivers?
Guys are fast but they’re reckless, girls, well they are just bad at parking.
Lastly, would you date a guy that cant drive?
No, definately no.
Do you use your attractiveness to distract other male drivers before a race?
*laughs* No, not at all, I’m married.
Married? Wow, any kids?
Yea, I have a son.
Great, so tell us how you got started in the motorsports industry?
I started driving when I was 13, thanks to my dad, then I went on to karting and kept doing that for a while then I got spotted by Red Bull, so here I am now.
Any previous race experience before this?
Not really, except for karting, I don’t have much experience in racing.
Right, so before you got selected to be a Red Bull driver, would you have considered yourself to be a fast driver?
*laughs* Ok lah (Leona: She’s fast and competitive)
Whoa, so does that mean there’s competition among everyone in the team?
Yeah but only on track, mostly during qualifying and training but that’s it.
So any influences?
Well, I like Mika Hakkinen and Michael Schumacher.
Ok so you like older drivers then?
There are younger drivers I like, Lewis Hamilton.
I noticed there are two Mclaren drivers that you mentioned, are you a Mclaren fan?
No, not really, I like the drivers but I like Ferrari and Mclaren equally.
But what if you had to choose?
It’s Mclaren. Oh wait, I like David Coulthard too. *laughs*
So what are you looking to achieve this year and how are you going to achieve that?
Most definately to finish the race, and I hope to continue racing for Red Bull racing.
How about a podium finish?
Of course, but first things first is to be able to finish the race first.
Sepang is a hot race, how do you prepare?
We drink a lot of Red Bull *laugh* then there’s a lot of keeping fit and exercising. We each race for 70 minutes before we hand the car over to the other driver so its not too bad.
Do you think its tougher for women to succeed in the Malaysian motorsports scene?
Not really, it depends on the individual, if you’re good then I don’t see why you can’t make it.
Do you think its fair? Are there equal opportunities?
Yea, there are equal opportunities for women in racing.
So do you think girls are better drivers than guys?
*laughs* It again depends on the individual, sometimes guys are better sometimes girls are better.
Very wise, would you date a guy than cant drive? (ZTH reminded that Lina is married) My bad, so are you a better driver than your husband?
*laughs* I wouldn’t say so, the only difference is I got spotted and he didn’t.
NorBaizura (NB) and Puteri Ayu (PA):
First question, have you used your attractiveness to distract other male drivers before a race?
*a lot of laughs and giggles* (PA) No, definately no, I haven’t thought of that but I’m going to try it now.
How about you Baizura?
It depends though, I cant help what people think, if someone thinks Im being sexy then yes, but I don’t try to be,
it comes naturally. *laughs*
So how did you get started with racing?
(PA) I had the passion for cars since very young, you know, all the car models and stuff, but the highlight was when I got in a car with Tsuchiya two or three years ago, and after that I just wanted to be in a car all the time.
And you Baizura?
It started when I was 15, my dad tought me how to drive a manual and since then I have been driving everyday, even when I’m with my parents I drive, so yea, I just love driving.
So who are your inspirations? People that you look up to?
(PA)Danica Patrick for sure, locally it’s Tengku Djan, he’s good and he’s cute (ZTH will be sure to tell him that).
(NB) For me, it’s Lewis Hamilton and Danica Patrick.
What are you looking to accomplish this year?
(both)To qualify and to complete the MME 12 hours endurance race.
So what happens if you qualify and complete the race?
(PA) Well, we return next year again, people will know what we are capable of doing, we will have different, more improved goals and we will have to be ready for a tougher challenge. *Ms Baizura seems to agree with whatever Ayu has to say, prompting us to give her the “answer me” look*
Do ya’ll think it’s difficult for girls to be succesful in this industry?
(PA) No I don’t think it’s difficult, in fact I think it’s easier because as a female you’re out there to prove
something different and because of that you receive more support and such. (NB) Guys have been racing for a while so that’s not something new, but girls racing is something new, we have different skills so we get more support and we can get away with much more?
Get away with much more? Like what?
Taking time to put on make up and such *giggles*
One of your fellow racers said that girls are as good as guys at driving but maybe not as good at parking, what do you think?
(PA)No, that’s not true, I have been driving for years now, and never had any problems with parking or anything.
Did you drive here? Where did you park?
Puteri Ayu points out her car and its proven to ZTH that she really can park, nose out too.
(PA) I drive a manual, I know guys that can’t even drive manuals, can ya’ll?
*ZTH looks around then: Of course we can, we’re auto journo’s, we drive anything, even a plane before its time to fly*
So would ya’ll date a guy that can’t drive?
(PA) As long as he buys me a car to drive, I don’t mind driving him around. (Guys take note)
(NB) Well, it’s difficult, but I don’t think it’s a problem, I like driving.
*ZTH: Well, that’s all the time we have, thanks for your time girls and all the best.*
A very special ZTH thank you goes out to the girls for agreeing to be interviewed, the Red Bull marketing and PR team for helping us conduct the interview and to Remus of Motorsport Playground for the venue and for setting up the interview.