When Sue Hughes lines up at Phillip Island in the Australian Prototypes Series later this month, there will be a sense of special achievement surrounding her return the sport.
In September last year, Hughes was involved in a severe accident during a race at Sydney Motorsport Park which put both her and the car out of action indefinitely.
After her Radical sustained a stuck throttle and was jammed open, the car was sent steaming backwards at 130kmph across the grass and straight into the wall.
However through determination, hard work and an impressive training regime, Hughes now finds herself back in the action and raring to go for a return, something she is not afraid of.
“There was never the fear of not racing again after the accident because it’s my passion and it was always going to be a matter of when I got back not if,” Hughes said.
“I have been training hard for a while now, which includes three sessions a week. But it wasn’t until February that I could start putting full sentences together so it’s been hard work.
“There has been a lot of rework on the car and I just have to get in the right frame of mind for next week but I just want to get out there and compete again, so I am looking forward to Phillip Island.”
While Hughes has not driven a race car at a national level since the accident, she is confident she will be ok to compete due to a significant testing session in the lead up.
“The test I am doing before will be at Sydney Motorsport Park where I had the accident and it will give me an understanding of how the car is because I have not driven it,” Hughes explained.
“It only got repaired recently and it will be the first time I have been in a race car since then so it will be interesting.
“I have a bit of nerves because I have had the head injury and there is a lot of pressure with the G forces, but it’s going to be exciting finally coming back.”
With her testing session to give her the confidence to compete on the island, Hughes will be one of the only females in the category, a responsibility she enjoys having.
For six years, Hughes has driven behind the wheel of a Radical and throughout that time, the growth in females’ participation has been increasing, something she feels is a testament to the sport.
“There are many still parts of society that aren’t convinced, but there are some good female drivers out there who do it for the right reasons and do it properly,” Hughes added.
“Most of the girls out there are seeing that they are making progress and getting somewhere. I think it’s great that there are a lot of females starting to race.
“I enjoy the responsibility of being one of the females on the grid and taking it up to the guys, but at the end of the day, you are there to race and the mentality it is, everyone is equal.”
The Australian Prototypes Series will have its second round of the 2019 season at Phillip Island on 28 – 30 June.