Cassey WatsonPremier Abarth franchise dealer Thames has confirmed 18-year-old female driver Cassey Watson to steer its race entry in this year’s Zing Trofeo Abarth 500 GB race series.

Worcestershire-based Watson,, who has already recorded a string of podium finishes while competing at junior level, was officially unveiled as Thames’ drive-partner at the Abarth GB 500 media day held at Cadwell Park, Lincolnshire, on Wednesday (24 March 2010).

Despite her younger years she will be eager to break through the glass ceiling of what is still a very male dominated sport, when she takes to the wheel of Thames’ 1.4-litre 197bhp Abarth Asetto Corse race car over the Easter weekend at Oulton Park, Cheshire.

The bank holiday weekend also signals the traditional start to the motorsport calendar, with the start of the new Abarth 500 GB (first round) set to showcase alongside the British Formula 3 and the Avon Tyres British GT Championship.

“It’s a great opportunity for me personally – as well as to be part of a Thames’ team who share my vision,” says Watson. “What’s more, the Abarth 500 GB series provides the opportunity to complete in a high-profile race series, yet be on a level playing field – something that has eluded me until now.

“Prior to the media day, I had only driven the Abarth Asetto race car once before, but although Wednesday [media day] wasn’t a dedicated testing day at Cadwell Park, I can see why the car is so popular among consumers. It handles superbly.

“As a driver, it’s not often that you get the opportunity to drive a car that is essentially a road car, but has been modified for the race circuit; as well as this one. The Abarth Asetto Corse is a terrific car – certainly one of the best-converted road cars I’ve come across. I’m looking forward to racing against the likes of Gareth Howell and Ben Winrow,” she added.

Sanjay Sobte, Managing Director for Thames, said: “When we were looking to confirm our position into this year’s competition, Cassey came highly recommended from a number of respected sources within the motorsport arena, which is not only testament to her success at junior level, but her character and competitive nature.

“Cassey was the youngest student ever to be accepted onto the Government’s advanced apprenticeship for sporting excellence [in motorsport], which is quite an accolade in itself. Her hard work will now see that she receives the utmost technical support from Thames’ engineers to enable her to compete fairly against other more established drivers – some of who have had experience at Le Mans and on the British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) circuit. All told, the Abarth 500 GB is primed to be a very interesting race series,” added Sobte.