Touring car races
This year, Michelle Halder made history by becoming the first woman to win a race in the TCR Germany. She talks to us about switching disciplines, her love of challenging tracks, and making it as a private team.
WHEEL SISTERS: Michelle, please introduce yourself.
Michelle: My name is Michelle Halder. I am 20 years old and live in Messkirch, Germany. At the moment I drive in the TCR Germany. Besides this, I start in the VLN at the Nürburgring. This year I became Junior Champion in the TCR Germany.
WHEEL SISTERS: Your brother is a TCR driver too. At what age were you introduced to motorsport? And how? Can you please describe your motorsport background?
Michelle: My brother Mike is 3.5 years older than me. Since he started karting very early, I actually grew up on the race track. I started karting when I was 5 years old. In karting we were on race tracks every weekend from March to October.
I drove karting for almost 10 years and then I made the switch to Formula 4. I was in Formula 4 for two years before I switched to touring cars. Now I am in the TCR Germany with a Honda on the track.
WHEEL SISTERS: You started your career as a successful kart driver, then you switched to Formula 4. Since 2017, you have driven touring car races. Why did you decide to switch disciplines? How different are the two disciplines?
Michelle: We own and maintain our cars ourselves. That’s why I did a test day in the touring car in 2017. During the test I immediately felt comfortable. Then my brother and I decided to drive together as siblings for the first time in a series, which is a lot of fun. The difference to formula racing was no problem for me. Sure, in a formula car you can drive around the corners much faster, but the duel is much more exciting in a touring car.
Michelle started her racing career at the age of five in the kart discipline.
WHEEL SISTERS: Can you explain the sport of TCR to us? What are the rules? What is special about this discipline?
Michelle: The TCR is a touring car series in which many different car brands drive against each other. Personally, I am currently driving in the TCR Germany. We have 7 race weekends in which we have 2 races per weekend. That means we have a total of 14 races. One race lasts 30 minutes. Our starting position results from the qualifying. I like the duel in a touring car. The class is one of the toughest series in the world.
WHEEL SISTERS: In your opinion, what does a successful TCR driver have to have in order to become successful?
Michelle: You need to fight hard for your dreams and the passion should always be there. I think when you have fun, you can be successful.
The class is one of the toughest series in the world.
WHEEL SISTERS: With your brother Mike you have the private racing team Halder Motorsport. Who are the people around you? Who supports you? And what are the challenges of a private racing team?
Michelle: We are a private team and that’s why some of us do everything ourselves. We have the cars with us and always maintain and prepare them. We have mechanics who are passionate about doing this and support us. Our sponsors also support us on the race track. It’s not easy being a private team, but we have shown that private teams can make it too.
WHEEL SISTERS: Which race track do you like the most? And why?
Michelle: I like every track but my personal favourites are Sachsenring and Zandvoort. These tracks require courage and are hard to drive. On both tracks you don’t see very much, because the track goes up and down a lot. So you don’t know what’s going on behind. I find that very exciting. I love to drive challenging tracks.
WHEEL SISTERS: Motorsport is your hobby, what is your day job/education?
Michelle: I’m a media designer and have built up a textile refinement company. I also make our own team clothing, for example. In addition, I do a lot of sports.
“We women can do that just like men. I think if you really want that you can do it. It doesn’t matter if you are a woman or not.”
Picture: by Kay Knape (Kay Pics)
WHEEL SISTERS: What aspects of motorsports do you love the most?
Michelle: I love everything about motorsports. When I’m sitting in my car it’s another world for me. I love the speed, the challenge and the fighting spirit. The fight with my opponents.
WHEEL SISTERS: Have you experienced any sexism when racing, if so, how do you deal with it? Does it bother you?
Michelle: Motorsports will probably always be a male domain. Of course, not all men can handle it when a woman is faster than they are. You need to believe in your dreams and always fight for them. We women can do that just like men. I think if you really want that you can do it. It doesn’t matter if you are a woman or not. That’s exactly what I want to show young girls. Do what you love. Live your passion.
Do what you love. Live your passion.
WHEEL SISTERS: In an interview you said that women can also be as successful as men in motorsports. Each of the racers must be ambitious and have the will to make their dream come true. But why are there still so few women in motorsport, especially on the way to Formula 1?
Michelle: That’s a difficult question. Of course, motorsport is mainly a men’s sport. But women can drive the same way. I think most women don’t dare. But in this sport a lot revolves around finances. I think you have to show the little girls that we can do it too. But the way to Formula 1 is generally very difficult, whether you’re a man or woman.
WHEEL SISTERS: A few weeks ago, you earned the Honda Junior Challenge 2019 title and made history. Can you describe your feelings about this success?
Michelle: It’s an incredible feeling to win the Honda Junior Challenge this year. I fought hard for it and now I have the title. I made history this year when I became the first woman to win a race in the TCR Germany. Winning the Junior Challenge is like a dream. It couldn’t have been better for me.
I am grateful for this great season and would like to thank my team, my sponsors and especially my family who made it possible.
Michelle made history by becoming the first woman to win a race in the TCR Germany and she won the Honda Junior title.
Picture: by @MatchUpCommunity
WHEEL SISTERS: What are your sporting goals for the future?
Michelle: Of course I want to be able to live as a racing driver. And I want to continue to be a successful racer. My plans for the next year are still open. At the moment I still have talks. They will show in which class I will go.
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