You had been a very successful driver previous
to moving Junior Max, but how did you find the level of competition
when you first competed in the class?
'I found the level in competition a lot tougher
when I first moved up as many of the Junior Max drivers this year
had competed in 2005, some even in 2004 and so had a lot of racing
experience, and because the drivers are generally bigger and older
than the minimax guys the racing is a lot more physical. When I
first started getting fast enough to race with the established drivers
it seemed to take a while for them to respect me, partly because
I am a girl, but that soon stopped after I proved myself against
them. I love the class because the difference in lap times are so
small so in a race situation the racing is emphasised more on overtaking
skills and not just on setting a fast lap.'
When you arrive at a new circuit, how
do you learn the circuit? Do you have any specific systems, or techniques
that enable you to learn a circuit as fast, and in as much detail
as you can?
'I begin to try and learn a track before I arrive
at the circuit. I try to find as much information about the track
as I can before hand through photos and track maps to try and find
particular characteristics for each corner, anything significant
about the turning point or apex, and then I will try and draw a
picture of the track in my mind, and get an idea of what a lap around
the track will be like. For example when I raced at Genk, Belgium
for the first time in Stars Of Tomorrow earlier in the year I found
a track map before I went and pictured myself driving a perfect
lap when I had a few quiet moments on my own. I know it sounds quite
stupid but when I first arrived at Genk and walked the track I already
felt familiar with the circuit. When I went out in the first session
all I had to do was piece it together and after a few steady laps
building up the speed and getting a feel for the chassis I was very
much on the pace.'
Here's a video of Amada storming to victory
in Round 6 of the Motors TV Challenge
It seems that many top TonyKart drivers
have a very specific driving technique that focuses on silky smoothness,
Marco Ardigo being a good example. Do you have to focus on any part
of your driving technique to maximise the performance of your TonyKart?
'I try to be as smooth with the kart as I can.
I find that the TonyKart is a very good kart for this driving style
as it has a lot of front end grip, and that the back doesn’t
stick to the floor too much, but also doesn’t slide away,
so when you get your braking just right and turn smoothly, you get
the back wheel jacking, and then when you find the apex the kart
will drive off it.'
How do you vary your braking technique between different corners?
Can you describe you braking technique for hard braking corners,
and corners that don’t need so much braking?
'I find that it usually depends on the amount of
grip on the track for the style of braking needed – I find
that when the track is slipper you need to be more aggressive and
just slam the brake then get the
back wheel to jack, but when it is very grippy you have to be more
controlled to stop the kart bogging mid corner and compromising
the exit speed. For corners that don’t need so much braking
I will experiment with hard braking and gently squeezing it on,
but I find my braking changes along with the track conditions'
You are now a first rate kart driver. Can you describe the
process it has taken you to become such a superb driver?
'At the start of the year I put a lot of the drivers
who did well in last year’s championship on a pedestal –
I really looked up to them, and when I got on the track I found
that if they were around me I would just almost let them past! But
as I became more relaxed and confident with my team and the kart,
things began to fall into place and I realised I was just as good
as anyone else. It has been a hard year in terms of the learning
curve – but I have learnt so much I am like a different driver.
I still don’t regard myself as a superb driver though! I think
I still have a lot to learn before I am ‘complete’,
and I always look forward to learning something new at each race.'
One of the techniques many top drivers describe is ‘looking
further ahead’. Senna once said that ‘he was a few tenths
ahead of himself in his mind’. This resulted him driving subconsciously
and without thinking. Do you use any similar techniques? If so,
how do you use them, and how do they improve your performance?
'I often used to really think about what I was
going to do before a race – like if I was starting on grid
8 I would picture the start, but I found that at the last round
of Super 1 I just kept myself relaxed, didn’t think about
things, and just sat on the grid with a clear mind. With this I
found that when I went on the track I was driving almost subconsciously
like Senna described – I think different people are different
drivers, and so different things will work for them, you just have
to find what works for yourself and use it.'
Watching your driving technique it looks
as if you lean away from the corner you are in. Is this a deliberate
technique you use to maximise grip on the outside tyres, or is it
something you do naturally? If you do it deliberately how do you
feel it benefits your karts handling?
'I do it deliberately to help balance the kart,
and make the rear wheel jack into the corner. I also find that under
heavy braking when the kart locks up and then starts to break away,
for example like at Buckmore Park’s first hairpin if you lean
against the corner when you begin to turn then push, it helps settle
the kart and keep the back end glued to the ground for a better
drive off the exit.'
How have you found it being a works driver
for Strawberry Racing? How do you feel being part of a team has
helped your driving, and karting overall?
'I really enjoy driving for Strawberry Racing.
When I first joint the team I was a bit scared of the other drivers
in the awning though because they were all seeded drivers, but that
soon disappeared. It is a great atmosphere to work in and I can
go out on the track with 100% confidence in everything because I
know the kart will be perfect, all I have to do is drive fast!'
How do you go about setting your kart up
at a race meeting? Do you have any specific systems you use to maximise
the time you have to set your kart up?
'Not really, I think we are just the same as any
team! The good thing about being in Strawberry Racing is there is
good communication between driver and mechanic, and when the driver
can give the mechanic good feedback, and then it can be transferred
to a good setup.'
Do you have any drivers that you look up
to, and respect? If so, who?
'I try not to think of any other driver in junior
max as being better than me, otherwise you'll begin to believe you
can't beat them, then it will not happen, but I think Michael Simpson
and Benjy Russell in senior max are two good drivers, they are very
consistent and smooth, and good at overtaking. '
Rossi prays to his bike, and Oliver Oakes
said he always checked his fuel cap. Do you have any rituals you
perform before racing?
'About 5 minutes before we are due to go to the
grid I will try and sit by myself for a few minutes and clear my
mind and get into ‘race mode’, I always have a quick
look around the kart when I am on the grid though to check my dad’s
tightened everything up!'
What is the plan, and goal for the future?
Do you feel you’ll stay in karts for a while before going
to cars, or is a move to cars soon a possibility?
'The plan is to have another solid year in junior
max, and then see what happens! If we can find the budget I would
ideally want to race Formula Renault in 2008, after learning some
more about karting and some more car testing. In the future my ideal
goal would be to get into F1 and become an ambassador for female
drivers, and prove to other women that we can be equally as successful
as men in motorsport. There are some great female drivers progressing
through the world of motorsport and it would be great to see more
than one female driver on a Formula One grid and being competitive.
I believe in my family and team, and with the right support and
backing I believe I can do it!'
What do you like most about racing karts?
What do you think karting has, or does, that sets it apart from
'I like everything about karting – except
the price, but doesn’t everyone! The good thing about the
sport is it is very competitive, and it brings out the best drivers
because the lap times are so close! A lot of the driving skills
needed for cars are picked up in karting, and it has some great
publicity worldwide. I hope that I can continue to enjoy the sport,
and carry on learning new skills from it!'
Amanda Lassu clearly shows an understanding
of how to drive a kart to it's limit. This will hold her
in good sted for her future career, which I am sure is going
to be hugely succesfull.
With her success this year in Super 1, and in BRDC
Stars of Tomorrow, I fully expect to see Amanda contesting
for the lead of both championships next year.
Be sure to check out
Amanda's Website for updates, and information on her karting
career so far. It's a proper cool website!