DENSO has teamed up with motorsport star Rebecca Jackson to showcase product innovations and technology on the racetrack and at industry events.
The accomplished racer has previously won the UK Production Porsche Boxster S Championship, raced in European competition at the wheel of a KTM GT4, came third in the Reiter Young Stars Championship and raced in the Road to Le Mans support race at the 2016 Le Mans 24H in an LMP3 car. Her main competitive programme in 2017 is the JCW MINI Challenge, in which her car will be fitted with homologated DENSO parts.
We met up with Rebecca – who’s also an automotive business owner and motoring journalist – to pick her brains about business, racing and cars.
You have a business degree and a successful business, RJ Prestige Cars. What business advice do you wish you’d had when you started out?
Monitor, monitor, monitor! You have to be able to track success and non- success, what’s working and what’s not working. It’s like racing; it’s no good waiting until the end of qualifying to find out your time. You track as you go.
What modifications or adjustments do you like on a road car?
I have my own range of modified Defenders called RJ Bespoke. We remap them for more torque and BHP as well as upgrading the suspension to a more dynamic set up for better road holding. I’m very much in favour of modifying vehicles as long as it is being done properly and not compromising quality. We use quality, clear LED lights throughout, add daytime running lights to the bumper, get the seats retrimmed, steering guard fitted, change the wheels for larger 18” black ones and fit a black badge pack.
Do you ever do donuts in supermarket car parks at night? 😉
I wish I did! However, I would be mortified if I opened up Twitter or a newspaper to find a story about me being a lunatic.
Do you do much of your own vehicle work?
I worked on my first race car myself. It was an old Porsche 924 and required a lot of work to get it up to standard. They say you have to win in the workshop before you can win on the circuit. I prefer to diagnose than fix these days and am a royal pain in the backside when I get into a car with problems, as I spot them straight away. I thoroughly enjoy filming my new TV show ‘Ali’s Superchargers’ where I teach kids how to use tools, diagnose and fix their parents’ old banger. I’ve never had so much fun fixing cars before; the kids cheer every time we fix something.
How do you feel about OE parts versus aftermarket parts?
I am quite okay with aftermarket parts as long as they are good quality. It’s the same with anything, if you buy cheap you buy twice. I am very much in favour of doing things properly; it’s like changing a water pump and doing the cambelt at the same time. Why would you put the old belt back on? Things like that drive (excuse the pun!) me mad. Providing the repairer fits them correctly I am not biased towards VM approved over independents.
Which future vehicle technology excites you?
New ways to power cars, largely because I cannot stand the smell of diesel. I love how technology is developed on the race circuit at Le Mans and Formula 1 and then it finds its way into our road cars, whether to provide better fuel economy or more power.
Where is your favourite stretch of UK road to drive on?
I did a rally in 2015 and the road section took us over the Yorkshire Downs. It was stunning. I am a massive fan of and then the race has been red flagged, stopped, due to an incident and I have been classified in the position I was in the previous lap.
How does it feel to be part of an industry traditionally dominated by men, where attractive women are often assumed to be ‘eye-candy’?
Perceptions are changing but sex sells. Go to the Clothes Show Live and women/girls are druelling over the gorgeous men in pants! Men are very much visual creatures so it is natural that there will be ‘eye candy’ in motorsport, if the ladies doing that work enjoy it then why not? Feminism is not about repressing women who want to be models or promo girls, it is about women having the choice to do as they please and what they want without any judgement in terms of their gender. I am respected for my knowledge and command a level of authority in the racing and automotive world, which is how I like it.
- My MINI Challenge JCW race car because I like racing cars with sequential gearboxes over H pattern, slick Dunlop tyres and limited slip diff. Don’t underestimate the MINI because of its cuteness, as a MINI JCW Challenge race car it’s a monster and so lively to drive.
- The day to day workhorse would be one of my RJ Bespoke modified Defenders because it looks cool and can drive anywhere.
- For a fun car, I would get a Lotus Exige S like the one I drove around Europe in DENSO branding for the Iridium TT spark plug. I find those cars so thrilling to drive and I feel totally at one with them.
If you were to diversify into a completely new career, what do you think you’d choose?
I am always open to interesting projects and business ventures. I am currently working with Adam Stott on his Wealth Life TV project, will be releasing children’s books soon and a new website called ‘New Car Advice’ to give new car hunters a space to have their questions answered by respected and knowledgeable motoring journalists. I do believe that, with the right people around me and working smartly, virtually anything can be achieved. And that’s the same for anyone who wants something badly enough.
If it had to be something completely new and different, then I guess it would be a pop star!
For more information about DENSO’s range of aftermarket products and to find your nearest DENSO distributor or stockist please visit www.denso-am.co.uk
For more information on Rebecca Jackson please visit www.rebeccaracer.com