Rebecca : You’re having a busy time at the moment I guess with testing?
Cleo: We have, yeah. Last week we had four days of testing with Sunday off. We’re now pretty much back to it this week.
Rebecca : Amazing. So from the age of 20, you bought a Mini Cooper S and turned that into a track day car, before this did you have a passion not just for cars but for car mechanics as well?
Cleo: Yeah not necessarily mechanics as such, it was mostly from my Dad who used to work on cars and I’d observe him and help – it happened that way. And then when I started getting into track days I thought ‘I should really fix my own car if something goes wrong’ – because I used to go to track days on my own – and I used to drive my car there and back. I thought that I should really at least be able to do the basics. From there I thought about how much I enjoyed it and wondered how I could turn it into a career. That’s where it has led me today.
Rebecca : So how did you take those next steps from track days to becoming a W Series mechanic?
Cleo: Yeah so I had a couple of friends that worked as motorsport mechanics anyway so I was quite interested in what they did and was always looking at what they were up to. Then initially I started volunteering with a racing team, but it was quite hard to get into at first there were a lot of people who didn’t accept or take me on because I didn’t have any experience. It was a lot of persistence. From there, I managed to get in with one team and again, they pushed me through and I’ve continued with them over the last few years.
Rebecca : Amazing, there’s determination there definitely! Next week is International Women’s Day, and this year’s theme is ‘Breaking the Bias’. What do you think the industry needs to be openly talking about?
Cleo: In terms of having more women in the industry?
Rebecca : Yeah!
Cleo: I think there should be a lot more avenues where it is a place where women can feel comfortable to go and approach teams to go and work within the industry. I know there are a lot of women who would love to do it but don’t know how to get a foot in the door. So something like that would be very beneficial.
Rebecca : You obviously work with loads of amazing women. Is there anyone who has really inspired you in your career?
Cleo: There are quite a few really. Leena Gade is very inspirational, she’s one of the engineers for Multimatic – I’d have to say Leena Gade.
Rebecca : I’ve seen that your favourite car to race is the Mini GP2. But for everyday driving, what does your car need to deliver in order for you to Live More?
Cleo: I do a lot of motorway mileage so I’d say that comfort is a definite perk for me that I’d like to have and definitely MPG. Funnily enough, the cars that I have don’t have either!
Rebecca : What are you driving at the moment as your daily?
Cleo: The daily I have is a Volvo C30 T5, so I guess it’s comfortable and it’s automatic but it’s definitely not efficient – not with petrol prices at the moment!
Rebecca : If you ever have any downtime during the W Series, which country is the best for exploring?
Cleo: Budapest was great. Obviously, we were quite central there because the track is close to the city centre, so we were able to stay in the centre – that was really cool.
Rebecca : We often see you on your social media road-tripping about, is there a place that you love to go for a drive the most?
Cleo: The Lake District was incredible. I went there over Christmas and that was really cool. But I’d really like to do the North Coast 500, so that will be next on my list. I think that would top the mark for UK places.