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MOTORSPORT Driven by a professional driver on a closed track. Do not attempt. Célia Martin freely admits her motorsport career has often as possible to drive my own car, alongside doing various been unconventional. “I’m young, I’m inexperienced. organisational jobs for a local race team.” With her earnings I certainly don’t have a classic racing background,” from an asset management job, she decided to set up her she says. “But I’ve learned to find my own way and own race team: “I was doing everything but the driving. that’s what makes me different. Jaguar understood that.” Watching other people race – I think that’s when I knew The 27-year-old is in the midst of her first full season as for sure that was what I wanted to do.” a racing driver, for Viessman Team Germany in the inaugural In her early 20s, Martin fell in love with the Nürburgring’s Jaguar I-PACE eTROPHY Championship. The global notorious Nordschleife. She would drive over to central championship pits up to 20 all-electric Jaguar I-PACE race Germany for the weekend and do as many laps of the 13-mile cars against each other. As each has identical specifications, course as possible. “For me, it’s the perfect blend of rally track driver skill and team tactics are decisive. Selecting a rookie and race circuit,” she says. “It’s incredibly demanding but it like Martin may have seemed a bold move, but Jaguar was also gives you a sense of absolute freedom.” perfectly positioned to recognise her potential. It’s also home to a variety of racing events and a popular That’s because when she’s not racing Martin works as testing location for manufacturers. For Martin, it seemed the a test driver at Jaguar Land Rover’s Nürburgring Test Centre. right place to pursue her dream of becoming a race driver. She also drives the Jaguar Race Taxi, taking passengers “So, I left everything behind in France and moved to Germany around the famous circuit at 150mph in the XE SV Project 8. in 2017,” she explains. “Of course, it was a risk – I had no job, It’s a far cry from the fledgling asset management career limited language skills – but I knew I had the opportunity to she left behind in her native France to pursue her dream. stand out. Nobody else had my background, my story.” “I wasn’t one of those kids that started karting at a young Martin got the racing licences she needed and began age and progressed from there – my family couldn’t afford it,” driving in the Nürburgring’s VLN Endurance Championship, she says. “My early driving experiences were with my dad in where she soon caught the eye of Jaguar: “They invited a an old Willys he used for off-road trial racing.” small group of drivers to do some testing. I actually think my That may not have given her a taste for speed, but sitting lack of experience helped: I wasn’t racing against the others, behind the wheel did give her a sense of freedom. “I would I was just doing what I’d practised, me against the track.” just go into my own little bubble. It was exciting and relaxing After working for most of her first year at Jaguar as a test at the same time. And those drives gave me a feel for driver, Martin is now keen to finally throw herself into racing. a car’s sensibility. I quickly Her obsession to improve got into the science behind ACE OF is unequivocal. driving – understanding “I need to train hard – what to do when and why.” mentally and physically. As a youngster, though, Fitness and endurance Martin prioritised her studies. PACE are so important. I have to After school, she studied law, work on my coordination, partly to keep her career and reaction times,” she options open, but also as a says. “I’m a bit of a potential way of financing perfectionist. Of course her entry into racing. I want to win, but my Racing was never too far main goal is to learn and away, though. “I lived near a improve. Progress is racetrack in Bordeaux and everything. If I get better, tried to get down there as the results will come.” From electric eTROPHY to V8 performance, Jaguar racing driver Célia Martin is all about pushing limits. We trace her journey from law school to racing paddock STORY: Geoff Poulton PHOTOGRAPHY: Gene Glover THE JAGUAR 75

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