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Headcorn A-level girl is ladies champion at the European Rally event in Belgium

By Alan Smith

Most students find doing their A-levels stressful enough. Not 18-year-old Catie Munnings.

She took her final A-level biology exam and then dashed off the same day to Belgium to qualify for the European Rally Championship - emerging two days later as Ladies Champion.

Catie, who has been driving since she was 14, races for the SainteLoc Junior Team.

Catie Munnings, right, and her co-driver Anne Stein, before the race
Catie Munnings, right, and her co-driver Anne Stein, before the race

She has won the admiration of her classmates at Kent College Pembury, where she has been deputy head girl. She’s also taken A-levels in photography and English Literature.

She said: “The Ypres rally was an experience I will never forget.

“I crashed during extremely harsh conditions while testing on Tuesday, so I never thought I would even make it to the start of the rally.

“But my team worked tirelessly from the moment I got out the car to get it fixed.

“While they were burning the midnight oil getting the car ready on Wednesday, I had my nose buried in a biology textbook on the way back to the UK for my final exam.

“I sat the A-level on Thursday morning and then it was a mad dash back to Belgium through Eurotunnel in time for the qualifying session that afternoon.

“Although my head was not fully in the exam hall, I think it went well!”

Catie said: “By the afternoon I had finished school for good and about to start my first international rally.”

Catie has already had to compete in six UK rallies last year to qualify for the international event.

But further challenges were to follow for the teenager from Lenham Road in Headcorn.

Catie and Anne meet the press
Catie and Anne meet the press

Catie said: “I was looking forward to a dry run after my crash in the wet, and I left the service area with dry tyres on.

”But as I arrived at the start-line, the heavens opened.”

Catie’s qualifying session quickly became a game of survival, with cars going off into the ditches at most corners.

She said: “We adopted the safest approach of just making sure we were at the finish.”

After qualifying, came the challenge of the two-day rally.

Guided by her experienced co-driver Anne Stein, Catie gradually gained more confidence in her Peugeot 208 VTi R2 and picked up the pace.

She said: “We finished the rally having increased our times dramatically to be greeted with the nice surprise of the ladies trophy!”

Although they came in 65th from the 67 finishers, Catie and Anne were the only female team to complete the race.

Catie Munnings at the wheel during the race
Catie Munnings at the wheel during the race

Racing is in the blood for Catie. Her father Christopher Munnings was a rally driver himself back in the day and now runs Wacky Sports, a company that uses motor sports as corporate team-building exercises, at their home at Park House Farm.

Kayleigh Minnihane from Kent College where Catie has been a pupil since she was seven, said: “Catie’s been such a brilliant student.

“She has such confidence, nothing seems to faze her - even delivering a speech to 1,000 people at the school recently.

“We wish her all the best as she pursues her passion.”

Ladies champions Catie and Anne sign the camera lens
Ladies champions Catie and Anne sign the camera lens

This weekend Catie is in Estonia competing in the next stage of the championship.

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