Rising motor racing star Alice Powell has enjoyed an exciting start to 2011 – the 17 year old reigning Formula Renault BARC Champion has been awarded both the British Women’s Racing Driver’s Club (BWRDC) Elite Gold Star and the club’s premier award, ‘The Lord Wakefield Trophy’.

Alice was named the Elite Gold Star winner for the second year in succession and received the award from BBC Sport’s Formula 1 TV presenter, Jake Humphrey at the 2011 Autosport International Show, UK. This prestigious award is presented on merit to a junior member who has shown the capability of, and aspires to become, a professional driver.

Alice was awarded The Lord Wakefield Trophy at the ‘MSA Night of Champions’ held at the Royal Automobile Club on London’s Pall Mall on 21st January.

Delighted to have started the year on such a high note, Alice says: “I am extremely proud to have won these awards and this is a great way to start the year, not just for me, but for my sponsors and all who support me. It is a privilege to win the Lord Wakefield Trophy and to have sat amongst legends such as Ross Brawn and Jason Plato at the awards ceremony was not only inspirational, but a great honour.”

Sarah Shaw at Manor Competition, who champions Alice’s talents, said: “Alice first came to our attention when she was racing Ginetta Juniors. At a time when there were several promising female drivers out there, Alice stood out as not just the best of the girls, but better than the boys too in Formula Renault. We knew then that she had the potential to go all the way in what is a heavily male dominated sport – Alice’s achievement in winning the Formula Renault BARC Championship is impressive enough – but that she did it in one of the most competitive seasons in the championship’s history, despite missing almost all the preseason testing, is testament to her talent and determination.”

Sarah continues: “Being awarded the Lord Wakefield Trophy highlights the fact that she has now caught the attention of some of the most prominent figures in the sport. To have won it at such a young age and early stage in her career is even more of an indication of just what she can achieve. At Manor we feel we are well placed to identify the raw ingredients needed to make a successful racing driver… Alice Powell has all those ingredients.”

Alice proved her mettle on the Formula Renault BARC grid last year scoring two wins, seven podiums and two pole positions. Alice made history by becoming the first female to win a Formula Renault race and the first female to win a Formula Renault Championship.

To continue the momentum already behind Alice, she hopes to compete in the 2011 Formula Renault UK Championship.

Alice Powell’s aim is to be first successful British woman to compete for the Formula 1 World Championship title. In 2009, aged just 16, Alice became the youngest ever female driver in the Michelin Formula Renault UK Championship, competing with the championship winning team Manor Competition, who launched the careers of F1 Champions Lewis Hamilton and Kimi Räikkönen.

The Lord Wakefield Challenge Trophy was first presented to the Women’s Automobile Sports Association (WASA) in 1929 by Lord Wakefield and is widely credited as the highest accolade bestowed upon a female for outstanding services to motorsport. The award was handed over to the BWRDC after its creation in 1962 by Mary Wheeler MBE. It is now acknowledged as the club’s premier award with previous recipients including Susie Stoddart, Amanda Whitaker, Rachel Green, the late Pat Moss-Carlsson, Louise Aitken-Walker and Jutta Kleinschmidt. Since 1992, a panel of independent judges was established to decide on a winner – which is only awarded when it is deemed there is a suitable candidate.