The three most influential female racing drivers in Indonesia’s Motorsports history, Kezia Santoso, Alinka Hardianti, and Alexandra Asmasoebrata, shared their stories to Formula E Zone in an exclusive interview about the first-ever FIA Girls On Track event in Jakarta.
Throughout this initiative, which was fully supported by the Indonesian Motorsport Association (IMI), girls from ages 8-18 experienced what it is like to work in the world of Motorsport. 100 local girls were invited to explore the world of Motorsport at the Jakarta E-Prix, in the hope that it can teach girls in Indonesia that motorsport is not only for men.
How ideal is the FIA Girls On Track event in Jakarta?
Born into a racing family, Alexandra Asmasoebrata got exposed to Motorsport from a young age. She followed in her late dad’s footsteps, pursuing a career as a racing driver, in which she succeeded in earning international recognition by competing in a few single-seaters series such as Formula BMW and Formula Renault Asia. She was the first female Indonesian Formula racing driver.
After seeing herself as a role model, she was delighted to finally have the chance to introduce young girls into the world of Motorsport. She wanted to inspire the girls to believe that they could have a job in motorsport too.
Asmasoebrata believes that girls need to know that Motorsport isn’t always about the drivers. She wants them to acknowledge the people who make it possible. Speaking to Formula E Zone, she explained why it’s essential for these girls to know that there are other career paths they can take within motorsport.
“Motorsport is seen as expensive and only available to people that come from a racing family,” Asmasoebrata stated. “I think that promoting the engineers and other members in the motorsport world aside from the drivers because if we only support people who want to become the drivers, it’ll be difficult for others who maybe want to be medical workers instead.
“Surely, they’ve thought about becoming a Pediatrician, Neurologist, or Orthopedic, but they rarely thought about wanting to become a doctor specialising in sport. Most people here don’t know they could also do that while getting involved in Motorsport.
“The goal is to have more females in the industry, but we don’t expect it to be drastic. We’re still focused on the long-term goal because we know it’s still a long process to get more young girls into motorsport.
“There are a lot of roles that they could pursue aside from the role of a racing driver, including the marshals, medical workers, journalists, and even photographers.
“Sometimes they don’t know how to get there, but hopefully, we can provide facilities and ensure that we can get more girls into motorsport. Everyone has the same opportunity. That’s what I want them to know.”
Following Formula E’s target to reach a global audience, Jakarta offered an exciting venue in one of the city’s most crowded places in the world.
Despite the heated political situation between different parties, it was a vital time for Formula E and other environmentally-focused initiatives to join the city’s fight for a greener future as Asmasoebrata shared her thoughts about the event: “I think it’s right for the FIA Formula E to have the event here, especially for the younger generation who knows more about electricity. The Indonesian government is also very supportive of this movement.
“From my generation, we don’t care about sustainability because it’s not in our brain. Even at school or work, it never crossed our minds. The younger generation is constantly exposed to the world and the internet and aware of things like global warming. That’s why Formula E best suits this generation.”
How well received was the FIA Girls On Track event in Jakarta?
Kezia Santoso began racing at 12 after her friends encouraged her to try out racing. She went on to compete nationally before entering international karting championships such as AKOC Junior Rotax, Asia Max Challenge, and RMC Asia Championship, in which she finished ninth.
In 2016, she finally got the offer to make her car racing debut in the Formula 4 South East Asia Championship, along with her younger brother, Keanon Santoso, and compatriot Presley Martono. Kezia was also one of the role models from the event, as she is the second Indonesian female racing driver after Alexandra Asmasoebrata to race in a Formula series.
“I’m very grateful for this event, especially if the FIA are conducting it, which means that we have massive support from them from national to international events. Especially with the Jakarta E-Prix, where we got to take part in the girl’s on-track event, they don’t do that in all the races.
“It was very well received by many girls, parents, audiences, and fans. We got lots of likes and praises from Formula E, the Indonesian media, and the fans. I think it’s looking very positive for the future, especially now that people know more about the event.
“There were more than a hundred girls who registered for our event. Still, but we could only pick a hundred people, and hopefully, when we get to do our own girls on track, we’ll get more participants.
“Hopefully, these girls will be inspired to get into the motorsport industry, not just as racing drivers.”
Do you get what it takes to become one of them?
At the end of the six hours event, the girls from different groups gathered in the careers tent to hear first-hand experiences from multiple women who have made outstanding contributions in the field. It didn’t take long for Alinka Hardianti to shine after showcasing her career as a racing driver.
Having competed in different categories such as Slalom, Off-Road, Touring, and mostly performing Drift, Alinka shared the struggles of being one of the female racing drivers in Indonesia. Even though it has its advantage sometimes, Alinka believes that the challenge is always there.
She said, “Us women are already physically different from men, and to compete in this world of Motorsport, we must double the effort from men.
“That’s why we women need more effort, and it’s true what Kezia said for girls who want to enter the world of motorsport, they must commit and certainly don’t feel inferior because guys are still dominating the Motorsport world.”
With her 16 years of experience as one of the pioneers of female racing drivers in Indonesia, Alinka has taken girls out of their comfort zone to try out new things they’ve discovered from the educational event.
“Yes, of course, I’m delighted with the event; we have had a reason to chat with each other. Most of us come from a family that has Motorsports backgrounds, like me, Andra, and Kezia.
“However, I’ll be happier if a girl comes into motorsport that is not from a racing background. That would show real progress.”