Inside Revolution: Discover Your Drive with programme manager Rosa Dakin

Monday 26 February 2024

Discover Your Drive is the first talent identification programme to launch under F1 Academy. It is a national programme that aims to find and nurture the next generation of female karting talent.

F1 Academy Discover Your Drive Karting UK is operated by Motorsport UK, and operated by TeamSport UK, which has 35 indoor karting venues across the UK. The goal of this
partnership is to support girls to progress to the British Indoor Karting Championships (BIKC) hosted by TeamSport in Autumn 2024, and beyond.

The programme is aimed at girls aged 8-12 years. They need no previous karting experience to be involved in the programme – just a desire to try something new!

In 2023, Motorsport UK and TeamSport ran a pilot for Discover Your Drive. Six pilot sites delivered ‘Discover Your Drive Race Academy’ sessions which resulted in a 265 per
cent increase in cadet-aged females participating in the British Indoor Karting Championships.

  •  At a non-Discover Your Drive venue the average
    number of cadet-aged females qualifying was 1.4
  • At a Discover Your Drive venue the average
    number of cadet-aged females qualifying was 5.7
  • 52 females participated in the 2023 pilot.
    35 of these qualified for BIKC 2023

The pilot showed great potential. For 2024 Motorsport UK wants to give more girls the opportunity to come forward and have a go at karting with Discover Your Drive Days,
which is a mixture of both on-track and off-track activities, delivered by TeamSport.

We have also acknowledged the need for the girls to be supported beyond the Discover Your Drive Race Academy with the creation of the Discover Your Drive Race League sessions that will give the girls the opportunity to practice against mixed ability and gender, to develop their race craft.

Over the next six months, there will be two more sets of Discover Your Drive Days, held at 10 nationwide TeamSport locations. These will be the gateway to karting and motorsport for girls aged 8-12 years old. We want them to have that great first experience of motorsport in a fun, safe and inclusive environment. Across these 10-sites, those drivers that show the most potential, as identified by trained TeamSport Chief Instructors, will be invited to join the Discover Your Drive Race Academy.

Throughout 2024, there will be four sets of national Discover Your Drive Days, and the subsequent Discover Your Drive Race Academy, to equip the girls with the skills needed to
compete in a junior level of indoor karting – the British Indoor Karting Championship 2024.

Beyond this, Motorsport UK wants to continue to develop the relationship with F1 Academy and support them to find the first female F1 World Champion.

Step by step
“The Discover Your Drive programme is still really in its infancy,” says programme manager Rosa Dakin. “We want to create a sustainable support structure for females entering
the sport, both at an early age, through the Discover Your Drive initiative, but then also look at how we can support those females already participating in motorsport.

“The long-term goal of 2024 will be making sure that the Discover Your Drive Days and the Race Academy are successful, while also establishing how we are going to retain, engage and develop females in karting across the performance pathway, and then into wider motorsport disciplines. It is my hope we see an uplift in the female membership base of Motorsport UK as a result of this programme and the ripple effect it should create.

“I joined Motorsport UK in October of 2023, just as the Discover Your Drive pilot was coming to an end. I have had to learn quickly, coming into the role with three groups of
stakeholders, but it has also allowed me to have influence in shaping the 2024 programme, what it looks like and how it is delivered which is really exciting.

“When I first read the job description for this role, it really jumped out at me. It was the perfect combination of sports development and sport performance – which is exactly my

“I was drawn by the fact it was an initiative about engaging females in sport. As a female myself, having played and worked in sport I feel passionately about encouraging more
females to be involved in sport through participation for fun, performance at an elite level, or to work in roles like this one that help shape the experience for other females.

“Formula 1 is a global brand that is instantly recognisable, so to be able to work on a programme with the F1 Academy is a huge privilege. I hope to make it a success and play a small part in the changing the history of females in motorsport.

“My competitive sporting background is largely as an equestrian, I have horses, I had ridden since the age of four and it is something that I love. After a busy day at work, I enjoy
being able to go to see the horses, ride and unwind. I am hugely competitive, mostly with myself, but also against others who have grown up competing horses and continue to do so.

“It was my love of horses that lead me to discover motorsport. My first job after finishing my Masters Degree at Loughborough University was as a Sport Scientist at the University of Birmingham. I was responsible for supporting 15 individual elite university scholar athletes and three performance teams. Birmingham University is a big sporting University where I had to learn to work under pressure and deliver results.

“Part of my time there I spent working towards my accreditation and as a physiologist, my friend was a KZ2 Karting athlete who had just come off the back of winning the British Karting Championship in 2020 and needed help with his fitness. I started to research the physiological demands of karting and how fit you needed be to drive a KZ2 kart and realised it was very similar to being a horse rider, which I had studied for my Masters thesis. The heart rate responses are very similar, the way the muscles contract is the same as horse riders, the need to meet a weight limit, where all things that I found interesting to discover.

“It was easy for me to create synergies in my head between an equestrian and a motorsport athlete and from there my interest has continued to grow. Motorsport is a hugely under
researched area which is surprising considering the risky nature of the sport, but also the narrow margins which the top teams and drivers can win or a lose a race on – which
ultimately can have huge commercial impacts.

“Since leaving the University of Birmingham, I still keep myself up to date with development in sport science and I will apply this here at Motorsport UK, developing a performance pathway and support structure around the girls who are completing the Discover Your Drive programme and beyond.

“I have also worked at Basketball England as the Commonwealth Games Legacy Project Manager. Following the success of Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games and Team England’s gold and silver in the men’s and women’s 3×3 competition, Sport England invested a large amount of legacy funding into Basketball England. It was my responsibility to ensure that we engaged the 10,400 participants in 3×3 Basketball across the legacy period of the 18-months following the Commonwealth Games.

“It was here that I learnt how to engage people into a new sport. 3×3 is a really young sport, which not many people have heard of. There are the core communities of Basketball
fans who play the game week-in week-out, but fewer schools, community groups and charities that have heard of the game. It was really rewarding being able to support organisations to deliver 3×3 events and give people the opportunity to understand how fantastic sport is. I hope I can bring this passion and humility to this role and empower young girls to take that step into a new environment, and to try karting for the first time.

I will continue to apply a sport performance angle to this project where possible. There is an opportunity to do some world leading research into karting, single-seater racing and
what it really takes to be a racing driver. More traditional physiology dominant sports have this data – swimming, cycling, and running for example, so finding someone with potential talent is easier because there is more of a blueprint to follow. It doesn’t mean it is always going to work – Usain Bolt broke the mould for sprinters by being 6 feet, 5 inches – but having research to guide us will certainly point us in the right direction as we progress along the path of talent identifying females, looking for the next generation
of female karting talent.

Where to next?
“In 2024 for Discover Your Drive, I would like to see four females on the starting grid of the British Indoor Karting Championship in the Cadet category. We had one entrant last
year, but it would be great to see that number increasing. Secondly to that, an increase in female membership at Motorsport UK. Yes, outcome is important with performance
outcomes, but taking a step back and looking at the bigger picture, it would be great to see more females in motorsport, with girls participating in the Discover Your Drive
programme and then staying in the sport.

“Professionally, I want to see the project grow and flourish. It would be fantastic for Motorsport UK to be the national governing body leading the way around the world for this type of female talent identification and development programme. Nothing like it exists and it would be great to stay at the forefront of the development of female motorsport athletes. In five years’ time, if one of the girls who came through the Discover Your Drive programme progresses on to be competitive in motorsport at a more senior level, that would be a really incredible moment, both for me professionally, but also the sport.

Motorsport UK is continuing to improve the opportunities for young women to participate in the sport, and Dakin is thrilled to part of this dynamic series of programmes. “We
have the hugely successful and ever-growing Girls On Track programme managed by Jenny Fletcher,” she adds, “that really shines a spotlight on the possibilities for females in motorsport, especially those roles that sit outside of performance and wanting to be a driver. I know this programme will continue to grow across 2024 and beyond which is so important for females and female representation across motorsport.

“Here at Motorsport UK, I believe we have a role to play in increasing the visibility of women in motorsport to the community, but also beyond these members. We have some really exciting British female drivers across F1 Academy and F4 this year. It is important that we can create role models for young girls completing Discover Your Drive to look up to and aspire to be. There is that saying of ‘you’ve got to see it to believe it’ and I believe that is very true especially in motorsport.”

In to 2024 and beyond Motorsport UK will continue to work very closely with F1 Academy to develop pathways and opportunities for females coming in to motorsport. “It is a hugely exciting time to be part of the sport”, enthuses Dakin, “and I hope we can see a real impact in the months and years ahead. We have some exciting announcements and collaborations in the pipeline – but unfortunately I can’t reveal more at this time!”

So for any aspiring young females who want to explore motorsport, the Discover Your Drive programme is the opportunity to get some world-leading support and has the potential to give those involved the boost they need to compete at the highest levels. To find out more about F1 Academy Discover Your Drive Karting UK visit the TeamSport
website –

To learn more about F1 Academy Discover Your Drive, the global participation campaign run by F1 Academy, click HERE