Lucy Cree

Rallying to the (chequered) flag

David Milloy

At the age of 16, Lucy Cree from Kilmarnock is about to enter her third season of competitive rallying. In doing so, she’s following in the footsteps of her father, Ross, who rallied at clubman level and later worked for M-Sport, the motorsport company which builds, prepares, and runs the Ford cars in the World Rally Championship. As we shall find out, however, her path into rallying was somewhat unconventional.

How did you get into rallying?
It started a couple of years ago when my mum and dad gave me a Skoda Citigo rally car for my 14th birthday. I literally woke up to find it sitting in the drive with a pink bow around it!

That must have been quite a surprise.
I was more confused than anything, as I had no interest in cars or motorsport. My dad took me and the car to the Kames circuit the following day and started to teach me how to drive; I’d never driven a car or even a quad bike before that day. I didn’t know what to expect but I enjoyed my day at Kames, and I had several more lessons there before I did my first rally.

When was that?
It was in March 2022, two months after my birthday. By this time, I’d got the driving ‘bug’ and was keen to do the event, which was held at Ingliston near Edinburgh. First, though, I had to get a competition licence, which involved taking part in three autotests and then passing a BARS test at Knockhill. I also had to find a navigator.

So you’re not in the car alone when competing?
No. My navigator, Chloe Fleming, and I work as a team. I do the driving and Chloe reads out the pace notes to me, giving me information such as the distance to the next bend, whether it goes left or right, and how sharp it is. It doesn’t matter how good a driver you might be, you need to have a good navigator sitting beside you, and I’m very lucky to have Chloe.

Is Chloe the same age as you?
No, she’s a bit older. The regulations that govern the Championship in which I compete allow people to drive at 14 but their navigators have to be at least 21 and have at least three years’ experience. Chloe also comes from a motoring background and her dad rallies a Subaru Impreza. So although we’re not the same age, we’ve got a lot in common and get on very well with each other.

How did you get on in that first rally?
I finished last but I enjoyed it, didn’t crash and was keen to do more rallies.

And you did several more that year?
Yes. I competed in nine rounds of the Junior 1000 Ecosse Championship and did a few other events, competing against other drivers in the same age bracket as me. It was a learning year and I really enjoyed it.

So you came back for more last year?
Yes. There were more drivers in the Championship than in 2022 but with a year’s experience behind me I was getting better results.

Were there many other girls competing in the Championship?
A couple. Most of the other drivers are boys. That doesn’t bother me, though. I just see them all as competitors.

Have you competed in rallies outside of Scotland?
Yes. I’ve rallied in both England and Wales. I’ve had my best result to date, sixth, on one of the English rallies, and I really enjoy rallying at Anglesey in Wales.

On what surface do you rally: tarmac, gravel, or a mixture of the two?
Tarmac.

And you’ll be competing again in the Junior 1000 Ecosse Championship this year?
Yes, but with a new car. It’s the same type of car as the one I drove in 2022 and 2023 but is a bit lighter and with better suspension. It should hopefully be a bit quicker than my old car.

Who prepares your car for you?
My dad and Tommy Brown, a family friend, do most of the work on the car. My brother Ben, who plays rugby for Ayr, also helps out with the car, both in the garage and at events, and AM Motorsport Services also provide on-event support. I’d also like to say a word of thanks to my sponsors, without whom it wouldn’t be possible for me to compete.

What are your aims for this season?
I’d like to finish at least one rally in the top three.

Aside from competing in rallying, I’m told that you raise money for Cash For Kids.
Yes, we hold an auction every year and the winners get to sit in the passenger seat of my rally car whilst I drive it round the Kames circuit. We raised £1200 in 2022, and £1800 last year. We’ll be doing it again this year.

Is there a way that people can follow your rallying and fundraising exploits online?
I’ve got a Facebook page – Lucy Cree Rallysport – that’s regularly updated with news and photos.

Lucy is too modest to say that she’s finished as the top female driver on all of her rallies in England and Wales, and that she’s also been the highest placed female in the Junior 1000 Ecosse Championship in each of the two years that she’s competed in it. So although Lucy presently competes mostly for fun, don’t be too surprised if she goes on to make a splash in the world of rallying in the future.