Thrill drives young Rally WA driver from Beckenham

Young gun: Rally driver Monique Smith, who at 14 is too young to drive legally and needed special permission to compete, with co-driver Terry Hughes.
Young gun: Rally driver Monique Smith, who at 14 is too young to drive legally and needed special permission to compete, with co-driver Terry Hughes.

MONIQUE Smith is not old enough to legally drive, but she is already one of the state’s most promising rally co-drivers.

After winning the Light Car Club of WA’s Ladies Championship at just 14 last year, the Beckenham resident became Rally WA’s youngest female rookie ever when she made her debut in the Clubman Cup this year.

Due to her age, Smith required special permission to participate and she got the decision just three days out from the opening day of the series.

Alongside her driver Terry Hughes, the pair are currently 4th in the Clubman Cup series, the highest of any rookie pairing.

Smith switched from driving to navigating this year and said while her new role was stressful, she loved every bit of it.

“I love driving, but I really enjoy navigating because you don’t have to concentrate so much on the road, you get to read the map and instructions and it’s your job to get them to the finish,” she said.

Smith said teamwork was vital to their success so far and despite the odd fight, their chemistry was strong.

“We used to argue a lot, but now we’re getting along really well. There are times I’ve got lost and that made it all stressful and by the end of the day, we’re pretty annoyed at each other,” she said.

“But I enjoy it and I don’t think I’d like to drive with anyone else.”

Hughes, who previously served as a recovery driver for broken down rally cars, praised his co-driver’s talent.

“She’s getting better and better at it. We’re both rookies., but I’ve been around it a long time so I’m used to it,” he said.

“She’s in charge of the car; I’m just steering it.”

The pair compete in the blind category, which means they are not allowed to see the track before the race and must instead depend on a driver’s book and the navigator’s instructions to guide them.

For Smith, it is the thrill of the competition which fuels her love for rallying.

“I love the adrenaline it gives you, we don’t get to see the track before so we have no idea where we’re going and that’s the thrill.”