AN 11-year-old karter determined to make her mark in a male-dominated sport is taking the racing world by storm.

Catherine Potter, of Bowburn, near Durham, who has a string of trophies under her belt since taking up karting only a year ago, spoke of her passion and hope of one day reaching Formula 1, as she embarks on two championships this season.

Driving a Project1 with a 200cc pro extreme engine, capable of speeds of up to 60mkph, Catherine has recently won the Teesside 0 plate championship at Teesside Autodrome and came second in the Cumbrian championships.

Her inspiration is world Formula 1 champion Lewis Hamilton, who began his career karting, and she is hoping to encourage more girls to have the confidence to get on the grid.

A pupil at Belmont Community School, Catherine said: “I had my first go on my 10th birthday at indoor track in Gilesgate. I really enjoyed it, so kept going back.”

Charlie Fagg, a GT3 racer her driving instructor father David helped through his test, agreed to help coach Catherine at Karting North East in Warden Law.

Catherine was soon racing on tracks around the country and winning prizes, but not without some resistance and name-calling from boys.

She said: “Last year the boys knew I was getting faster and the dads didn’t like the idea that I was beating them, because they are all boys and they thought boys should do better than girls.

“The boys started ramming me and pushing me off the track so that they could get past me.

"I would get back up to the top and overtake them and then they just did it again. Then finally when I won they really didn’t like it."

It got so bad at one point that her father replaced her plastic bumper with a metal one.

Catherine said: “I don’t think its fair they are doing that. We are the same as boys. We have equal rights to be racing. We should just be able to enjoy it, because it is just racing.

“It should just be having fun. I really want to get up their and win these championships and show that girls can do it too.”

Catherine will be taking part in championships at Teesside Autodrome and Shenigton Kart Racing Club in Oxfordshire.

The sport is not without its dangers. In July Catherine was involved in a crash when another kart attempted an impossible pass and flipped over and landed on top of her kart.

Mum Emma said: “She was crying her eyes out. Not because she was hurt, which she wasn’t. but because her kart was broken.”

Impressed by her determination, businessman and team owner Adam Alexander offered to repair her kart for free and coached her to the next level. Since joining their team, AA Racing, she has jumped to the front of the pack.

Catherine has sponsorship from BMW Cooper Durham, Stokesley’s Big Fish Tuning, and Omega Asbestos of Bowburn.

Mum Emma is determined that her Catherine’s schoolwork should not suffer and never takes her out of class for races.

Catherine, who practices three times a week even takes homework to the race track.