After her friends co- driver called in sick she jumped into his Peugeot 205, drove a race – and won! Now she’s looking back on over 300 races during several years of experience, has done pace notes in English, German, Swedish, Spanish , Italian, Dutch, German and of course in Danish and is the proud owner of several medals, in gold as well as silver.
We spoke to her about her experiences, what it takes to be a co -driver and why it’s great that a lot of women nowadays are heavily involved in motorsports.
Wheel Sisters: Hey Jeannette, it is so nice that you could find the time to answer some questions for us, may I ask you to introduce yourself?
Jeannette: Sure! My Name is Jeannette Andersson Kvick and I live in Viborg, Denmark. Since 2000 I’ve done between 20-25 rallies a year but just since 2016 I’ve been an international co- driver driving with different teams like Scotland, England, Germany, Sweden, Austria, Holland and Spain. I’ve done a couple of WRC events and more to come. I have also done the TER – Tour European Championship where I ended up 2nd in the 4WD Trophy Championship 2017, and 1st in the Female Gravel 2wd championship in Spain 2016.
Wheel Sisters: What are the main tasks of a co-driver?
Jeannette: I look at it as being many things. Besides working in the office with pacenotes, there is also all the planning and preparing. You also have the role as psychologist making sure you driver is 100% ready both physically and mentally for the task. Sometimes you are like the mother making sure your driver has not forgotten anything like gloves or balaclava and sometimes you are just like the best friend of your driver where you talk about serious things but on the other hand also make some fun together.
7 year old Jeannette was a little bit scared with her bike.
Wheel Sisters: What was your first rally and how did you feel on the start line?
Jeannette: My first real BIG rally was around in the Danish Championship and I remember that I was very nervous. All the things you had to find out, all the regulations etc. But even if at start I thought I don’t want to do any mistakes, when the light turned green I was ready. I loved it.
Wheel Sisters: You are from Denmark, but your father is from Austria. Can you tell us a little bit about your background?
Jeannette: Yes, my father is from Austria so we spoke Danish and German at home right from the start. Which gave me quite some advantages in school.
Wheel Sisters: Is motorsport just a hobby, and if, what’s your day job?
Jeannette: I am an educated teacher in languages and sport but my day job is quite different as I work on a home for people with drug and alcohol problems which the government has placed with us as they also have some kind of criminal past. But what is different is that they are still allowed to drink and use drugs – we are there to keep them safe, help them and that’s very interesting. As me working there, doing motorsports, they think of me as this cool person but they also respect me and it’s a great way for contact and communicate with them when I’ve been at a rally.
Wheel Sisters: What are you the most proud of achieving on the track?
Jeannette: Finishing the WRC in 2016 as first 100% female team ever (Female mechanics, Female engineer, Female press team etc)
Wheel Sisters: What was the greatest failure?
Jeannette: That’ s more difficult. When I do mistakes, I’m very hard on myself but I’m also very open about it. I don’t mind telling that I did a pacenote mistake – but I analyse immediately only to do better next time.
Wheel Sisters: What does motorsport give you personally?
Jeannette: Confidence for sure. I love that feeling of proudness and happiness when you finish a rally and you know you did your best. But to me it’s also about using my experience helping drivers or co-drivers. It’s also doing events where I speak about rally and my experiences – what it’s like to be a womens world. That it’s okay to show and tell that you are really good at something. That I am being asked to drive with teams and not the other way around. That makes me proud coming from this small country and that I’m able to travel around the world and do rallying as my living more or less.
Wheel Sisters: Have you experienced any sexism when racing, if so, how do you deal with it? Does it bother you?
Jeannette: No not really. Back when I started we were like 5 women doing co- driving here in Denmark but now there are a lot of female co- drivers. Of course I think that people talk a lot behind peoples back because that’s how people are. But I’m out there for one reason and that’s to do my job and make the most out of it and to have a great experience and that’s what I focus on.
Wheel Sisters: Although there seem to be more women becoming involved in motorsport, why do you think there are still so few? What can be done to encourage more?
Jeannette: It’s difficult to pinpoint one thing but I think organisations like Wheelsisters are definitely helping to show more focus on women in motorsports and also FIA Women in Motorsports and Dare 2 Be Different with Sussie Wolff as ambassador are doing a great job showing that women can do motorsport just as well as men.
Wheel Sisters: Do you think attitudes to women in motorsport are changing?
Jeannette: It’s a question of balance and how you show women in motorsport. Women who use their body and show themselves off with breasts etc. to sell themselves. That’s not showing skills or talent. That also can affect the ones who are actually working hard to do well in motorsport. Women like Catie Munnings from England and Emma Falcon from Spain are true inspiration in rally to those who want to be be a driver. Showing off by doing, that is how to gain respect from the motorsports world in my opinion. Also I think you have to be honest. I always tell my experience right from the heart. I always speak out personally and emotionally. It IS hard work and it sometimes makes you want to cry but it’s also passion that gives you those emotions and that’s worth telling.
Wheel Sisters: Do you think mentalities change from country to country?
Jeannette: I think it’s different, yes but it also comes with a lot of common passion for the sport in each country.
Jeannette and her partner Jan in front of his VW Polo S2000.
Wheel Sisters: What was the funniest/most interesting driver you had? And why?
Jeannette: Hmm again difficult but I remember in 2007 I’ve said yes to a driver in a BMW M3. We crashed heavily with 165 km/h. I broke my tailbone and hurt my face really bad. I said brake like 10 times but with the full speed we hit 2 trees and a huge stone. 2 weeks later he called that he bought a Peugeot 306 Maxi if I was ready again – well, imagine my answer (laughs) But he never drove again since then.
Wheel Sisters: Who is your motorsports hero or role model?
Jeannette: Sebastian Loeb for sure – my future husband even though he doesn’t know ? But I think all rally drivers and co – drivers are heroes! We all jump in the car, risking our lives doing what we love the most.
Wheel Sisters: What has had the biggest impact on improving your co-driving skills?
Jeannette: My international career for sure. I wanted to prove every single time that i am THAT good.
Wheel Sisters: What is important for anybody who wants to become a co-driver?
Jeannette: Do it if you love it. If you only want to have fun to tell your friends you tried it – don’t. For the driver and team it’s a lot of money and time to waste if you are just there for the fun experience. It’s a job and that’s what is expected from you.
Wheel Sisters: Do you have any tips for beginners?
Jeannette: Prepare well and don’t think of it as a different and new rally every time. Be confident but also be honest. If you are nervous, tell it. If you are unsure of something, tell it. If you loved it – tell it!