Rebecca Jackson’s Journey to Le Mans
27th April 2017
Having a plan is so important in motorsport and, for many, the end goal involves racing at Le Mans. Not surprising, considering La Sarthe is arguably one of the most prestigious events on the motorsport calendar. In 2016, Rebecca Jackson realised her dream by competing there in the Road to Le Mans Race.
Jackson’s motorsport career kicked off when she began racing in the Porsche Championship, first in a 924 before going on to win the production Boxster class. It was during this time that Jackson decided she wanted to reach the famous endurance race and Project Le Mans was born.
In 2015, Jackson had competed in the GT Cup, driving a Porsche 997 Cup car – a challenging machine with no driver aids – which set her up to drive an array of cars the following year. The car that featured most heavily in the 2016 season was the KTM X-Bow GT4. This carried Jackson to a third-place finish in the female standings of the Reiter Young Stars Championship and an overall team win.
Jackson also got behind the wheel of a JCW MINI for four rounds of the MINI Challenge, Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus’ SCG003C and the Ligier LMP3 car, which she raced in the Road to Le Mans race.
After working so hard for the past 31/2 years, Jackson can only feel pleased at what she’s achieved, but it certainly wasn’t easy. As she says: “People see the glory in the press, but at times there were tears, frustration and disappointment when things did not go to plan. It was tough, but I stuck with it. The doors that opened and opportunities that came my way all formed part of the sensational journey that has been Project Le Mans.”
Experiencing the 24 hours of Le Mans as a spectator is spectacular, but visiting as a racing driver takes things up a notch. “As a racer, the atmosphere is incredible,” says Rebecca. “The crowds of fans watching from on top of the karting building, grass banks, campsites, hospitality and various other points around the 13.6km circuit all add to this atmosphere. I also had some amazing supporters, all wearing t-shirts with ‘Go Rebecca Racer!’ on the front, alongside a picture of my car.”
The Road to Le Mans race was one of the supports for the main 24-hour event. While it fulfills all of Project Le Mans goals, it doesn’t mean that Jackson is not looking ahead to the full endurance race. She says: “I would love to go back and race at Le Mans again and if I can secure enough sponsorship to do that, whether it’s next year or the year after, it would take more than wild horses to hold me back!”
Spoilt for choice
Having driven the Nissan-powered Ligier LMP3, MINI JCW, SCG003C and KTM X-Bow GT4, it’s no wonder Rebecca struggles to pick a favourite. “They are actually all very different. The MINI is so much fun, yet the LMP3 is the fastest racecar with no traction control or ABS, making it rather old school in a way, which I love.”
The front-wheel-drive MINI is, of course, the anomaly in this list of racecars, but the others are quite different from one another too, as Jackson explains: “The SCG is an absolute monster, so quick and powerful. These are all rear-wheel-drive, but the KTM requires slightly more aggressive inputs, unlike the gentle controls you give the LMP3 car. One feature of the SCG is that as the tyres start to go off later on in the race, but you can increase the race traction-control system to give them some assistance.”
The powerful little MINI was a huge learning curve, but Jackson had no choice but to get to grips with this very different configuration of car. “I thought it would be easier than it was because it looks so cute, but with limited seat time it definitely took at least three races to really understand how to pedal these cars fast, not just quick.”
What’s next for Rebecca Racer?
While Jackson’s career has featured RWD sportscars for the most part, the MINI has introduced her to the world of touring cars and sparked a potential future career path. She says: “Touring cars are fun, busy, jam-packed grids with very little difference in lap times across the whole field. It’s close, exciting racing and I see it could feature in my future.”
Not one to rest on her laurels, Jackson has another plan in the works too. Of course, she’s not giving anything away, but there’s lots of other exciting projects in her pipeline too, including a new television show and series of children’s books.
Rebecca Jackson’s advice for drivers with a dream
- Stick at it. Expect failure along the way and be prepared to make sacrifices.
- Take time to understand that although it’s not easy, if you do it in stages it is possible.
- Make sure you prepare your body in terms of fitness.
- Ensure you have enough time to focus on learning new tracks and a range of cars. Even if you can take some of your knowledge from car to car, they are all different.
- Don’t listen to anyone who says you can’t – they are probably too scared to try it themselves.
- Even if you don’t make it, you got a lot further than if you’d never tried at all and enjoyed the journey along the way.
- You only get to live this life once so make the most of it.