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Chloe Stuart’s maiden outing at Kyalami Grand Prix Circuit this weekend (11-13 April) did come with its fair share of challenges in the second round of the 2024 DOE Formula Vee Partnered by CIM Lubricants championship, but allowed her to showcase her never-say-die approach towards her goals of motorsport success.

The 14-year-old Stuart, the youngest female driver in the category’s history, showed steady improvements throughout Thursday and Friday’s practice sessions despite minor mechanical issues early in the weekend. Starting the weekend’s first of two races from 18th on the grid, she made a solid start, but the race was soon red-flagged due to an incident elsewhere in the pack. The restart resulted in another incident, with the race exceeding the time allocation on the double-header Extreme Festival programme by this time.

Two options were made available for the series. The first was a shortened race at the end of the day’s programme, as two more categories still had to complete Qualifying. The second was a double points 12-lap race on Saturday. However, further delays in the final sessions, with the light fading, resulted in Option 2 being the only viable option.

A motivated Stuart lined up for Saturday’s race but soon experienced issues with a mounting that failed, which saw her pulling into the pits. However, she was not going to give up that easily. After determining that the failure would not be a significant danger to herself or her car, she returned to record some more valuable practice laps. She found herself eight laps adrift of the leaders, and a classified result was not on the cards, but she crossed the line in 22nd place.

“We persevered regardless of the challenges we faced.” Said Stuart. “You can look at ‘what ifs’ regarding broken parts, aborted races, and a full day at our disposal to fix it, or you can look back on the remarkable progress made. We choose the latter. It was our first time at Kyalami (Grand Prix Circuit). We had a few niggles throughout but never gave up. It paid off as we improved our one-lap pace substantially, and more dividends will be paid out when the line up for Round 3.”

The combined National and Regional Extreme Festival event was the biggest local-programme-only event held at the iconic circuit since the 2016 reopening. Stuart is thankful to everyone who made this possible while highlighting a few personal experiences:

“I was really impressed with the quality of the track, which is by far the smoothest and widest track I have ever driven, and it really made me feel like my racing dreams are starting to become a reality. Our very striking branding also brought the glitz and glamour feel to the paddock, with a significant amount of media and spectator attention, and we would like to thank Victron Energy South Africa and all of our other sponsors, too many to list here, for their incredible input and support in our fledgling team, TC Racing: Watch this space. Our team will become a name synonymous with motorsport. Despite a few mechanical teething challenges with my new car, the car was well set up, with the Dunlop tyres offering good grip. I enjoyed being part of a much larger grid than usual and was really impressed with the top quality of Kyalami Marshals.”

Stuart’s next DOE Formula Vee Partnered by CIM Lubricants outing, will be the third round of this year’s championship, which will be held around the clockwise layout of Red Star Raceway on 10-11 May.

Issued by Brandsponential on behalf of Chloe Stuart

Photography by: Willie Pretorius

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