Rally star Jade Paveley on diversity, doubt and determination

12th July 2022
Simon Ostler

Rally driver, endurance racer, WRC reporter, mechanic and rally school social media manager; Jade Paveley has made the absolute most of her opportunity to get involved in motorsport, and she’s working hard to help more people, especially girls, to do the same. We caught up with her at the 2022 Festival of Speed presented by Mastercard.


Based in Llandudno, North Wales, Jade has built herself into one of the most influential British women in motorsport, firstly through her own success as a racing driver in a career that began when she was just 15 years old. At Silverstone in 2010 she became the youngest ever driver (aged 17) to compete in a 24-hour race and since then has gone from strength to strength. By the age of 19 she was taking the chance to compete in her first rally event in Wales, and she showed immediate promise. “It just felt really at home for me and it just felt quite natural and I’ve not looked back,” Paveley told us. She’s worked in rallying ever since, first as a driver, and later as an end of stage reporter for both the World Rally and European Rally Championships, but how did she get started in motorsport?

Paveley descends from a large family of motoring enthusiasts; some owned dealerships, others raced motorcycles or went rallying. “That was how my dad got into it and then he was always rallying as I grew up,” she says. “I did my first kart race at 15, he gave me the opportunity. My brothers didn’t really like it and I did so, however many years later I’m still doing it, and it’s going well.”


Twelve years into a successful and varied career, her favourite moment might come as something of a surprise: “It’s going to sound really cheesy, but driving an electric car for Kia up the Hill at Goodwood has been amazing. As a little girl growing up watching Goodwood, I used to watch everyone driving up the Hill and I watched Lewis Hamilton come up in his F1 car and I was like ‘if I could do that, I’d feel like I’ve made my dream.’ The first time I did it was ten years ago nearly and ten years later I’m driving an electric car that’s nearly 600 horsepower up the Hill I mean how cool is that?”

Jade also mentioned her victory in the ‘King of Epynt’ rally event, which she notes as being one of the more satisfying moments of her career, proclaiming herself the Queen of Epynt. But it’s not just about the wins, Jade’s motorsport journey has also been about proving to herself she can do it. She said: “Just showing to myself that I can do it and just kind of relaxing. I’ve had a few self doubts and now I’ve got to the point where I’m feeling more comfortable and I’m happy to hop in a car and just go for it.”

And that confidence is plain to see, as she looked perfectly at home among the buzz of the Festival of Speed, and she was clearly having a great time behind the wheel of her Kia EV6 GT. “It’s about the feel because you don’t have the rev limiter, you don’t have that exhaust sound, the turbo spooling, you don’t have all those noises that you’re kind of used to in a competition car, I absolutely love that. The fact you just put your foot down and it throws you back into your seat – the passenger I had yesterday literally slammed back into their seat, it’s great to have that reaction. I’m surrounded by supercars, and they’re super loud and, yeah, they sound great but I’m just braking through that noise being silent.”


Alongside her work behind the wheel, Jade is now spending time considering how she can help others to forge their own opportunities. Growing up as a fan of racing and eventually a young and aspiring driver, Jade took inspiration from the likes of James Hunt and Lewis Hamilton. “I think I look at a lot and just take a little bit from everyone. Way back to James Hunt and seeing how he’s just so casual – I know it’s completely non-PC how he does stuff, but I think having characters in sport is really important. Lewis Hamilton, how professional and how well he drives has been a brilliant inspiration. Danica Patrick who just dominated over in the US when she was doing IndyCar.” But now she’s hoping to provide a similar inspiration to the next generation of young drivers.

Growing up as a woman in a hugely male-orientated industry might have been tough, but Jade has had an altogether different experience. “I’ve always seen myself as just another competitor. It really didn’t cross my mind. I think because of growing up around motorsport, and I’ve got brothers, I didn’t really see myself as being different at all, and it’s still very much the same now.” But while Jade felt the support of her family and the wider motorsport community when she decided she wanted to chase her dream, she says that’s not always the case. “I’ve spoken to parents of kids, of girls, and they’ve said ‘oh we’ve told our daughter she can’t be a mechanic because there’s no girls in Formula 1 or in WRC.’ I feel like I want to make sure that other girls know that you can get involved. It’s not just driving, motorsport is everything, it’s working as a mechanic, it’s PR, it’s organisation, there’s such an opportunity. It’s a very welcoming sport as well.”

Her message to any and all youngsters is a simple one: why not? It’s clear that she means it, and that this is a cause she cares deeply about. “There’s no reason why you can’t do it. There’s absolutely no barrier at all. I am quite a normal person I’d say, I’ve got a day job as well, I work really hard and as long as you put the effort in and you’re focused, and like any sport you have to be dedicated, and motorsport’s not easy, it really isn’t – I wouldn’t like to say that it is for anyone – but don’t let yourself stop yourself, just go for it. Why not?”


Elsewhere, she’s also keen to help grow the WRC, and she has her own ideas about how to keep the sport relevant as we head towards an electric future. “I would love to get a manufacturer onboard in the World Rally Championship because I think motorsport is always evolving, but it needs to keep fresh, it needs to keep current and relevant to make sure people are engaged in the sport. Obviously I’d love to get these guys [Kia] involved. That would be so cool, if I can get someone like Kia who is future thinking, relevant, that would be great to get them involved, and I’d love to do a World Rally Championship round or a European Rally Championship round with them.” It’s a forward-thinking and proactive goal, and with Kia on the way to producing its first high-performance electric car, it could well be an achievable one.

But again, she’s keen to help where she can to provide more opportunities to youngsters, girls included. “I’m getting a little bit older and I would love to just try and encourage more people to get involved with the sport. More girls involved would be great because I’m at the point where I’m looking for girls younger than me to come through and there’s not as many. It’s an expensive sport and it’s a difficult one, so if I can contribute and give something back and say thank you to the sport I love that, would be great.”

Photography by Joe Harding.

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