- 9th June 2006, 12:03pm
It’s not often that you find two sisters competing in the same rally, much less the same car, but that’s exactly what happens when sisters Melinda and Jasmine Both hit the stages.
Both Girls Racing is made up of two sisters, Melinda (the driver) and Jasmine (the co-driver) Both. This unique rallying team started rallying together in 2005 and have shown some encouraging results.Melinda's motor sport career started on her way home from hospital when she was merely three days old. Her father, an avid motor sport enthusiast, took her to her first motorkhana and she hasn't looked back since.
Starting her driving at motorkhana level, Melinda built up to rally driving gradually. She navigated for three years in a Toyota Corolla KE25 with Rob Dixon. Then the aspiring rally driver bought herself a Datsun 1600 in January 2004 and competed in Queensland Clubman rallying.
Melinda also jumped into the driver’s seat of her partner’s car (current Queensland Rally Champion Paul Bergmann’s WRX) for the KCF Rally Sprint series and won her class for the year.
The day after finishing navigating in last year’s Targa Tasmania, she bit the bullet and entered as a driver for 2006. Despite the event being way beyond her budget, Melinda simply decided that she was going to make it happen no matter what. This decision kick started a long series of events.
Melinda nagged her sister into navigating; Jasmine had resisted the motorsport bug for years but finally relented. Melinda says that her sister is very much a “natural” (if there is such a thing) co-driver as she believes Jasmine’s analytical and mathematical mind is naturally suited to navigating.
It was a monumental campaign to get Both Girls Racing to the 2006 Toll Shipping Rally Tasmania. After a setback in mid-2005 when their WRX was crashed into, another rally car was built from scratch to the new tarmac regulations. Melinda’s partner, Paul, worked day and night for a month to ensure the Subaru Impreza WRX STi was ready for Rally Tasmania. Encouraged by a huge effort from RallyPrep Brisbane, KCF Rallysport and Hart Transmission, the car was ready in time for Paul to drive to Sydney and board the Spirit of Tasmania. The car performed beautifully throughout the event which was a credit to the preparation.
Melinda and Jasmine Both made up the only female team to compete in the event. The girls’ plans were to finish the event and learn as much as possible along the way. Toward the end of the event, the girls became more comfortable with the discipline and increased their speed considerably. They claim to have the most fun on the Camena 2 stage with lots of "ya-hooing" going on! While other competitors were grumbling about the gravel on the last stage, the girls loved it due to their dirt rallying experience.
Melinda committed more to her co-driver’s calls throughout the event. “When Jasmine said "flat crest", I just put my foot down. I nearly shut my eyes the first time but I always believed there was nothing dangerous over the hill. Towards the end, my rookie navigator was enjoying herself so much that she was yelling "don't back off!!" at me!”
Both girls were also pleasantly surprised by the amount of support and encouragement they received throughout the event. The Tasmanian public were extremely vocal about their support for the girls - as was the rallying community.
At the end of the 2006 Toll Shipping Rally Tasmania, Melinda and Jasminefinished in a respectable 32nd place with their better times around cars in the top 20.
The girls credit their result to great pre-event preparation and support from their service crew Paul Bergmann. It simply would not have been possible to compete in the event without his support or efforts.
The Both sisters are committed to motor sport in the long term. Their approach is to do the best they can - as often as they can - and grab opportunities with both hands! Melinda and Jasmine encourage other women to do the same:
“We think it is important that girls and women become competitive drivers. There are many good reasons for anyone to be actively participating in motor sport, not just women. Yet we are under-represented in this discipline and it is a shame. Jasmine and I hope that the girls and women watching us at Targa Tasmania will be encouraged to give driving in motor sport a try.”
Melinda and Jasmine are now busily preparing for the Targa Tasmania 2006, and hope to finish in the top 50 at this huge event. The sisters are looking forward to competing in more tarmac and gravel events in 2006 and beyond.
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