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From racer to motorsport engineer at just 19

19-year-old Yasmeen Koloc’s biography reads like a book. Initially a high-level tennis player, she started racing cars at 16. Forced to stop playing tennis due to injury, the same injury also halted her promising motorsport career two years ago. So, while she is recovering, she has been learning a new trade: motorsport engineer and coach.


From racer to motorsport engineer at just 19

Yasmeen Koloc started playing tennis when she was 4 years old. She played competitively for 11 years before a wrist injury stopped her in her tracks. Inspired by her father Martin Koloc, two-time European truck champion in the 90s and CEO of Buggyra ZM Racing, and her twin sister Aliyyah who races in the 24h Series and the FIA W2RC, she tried racing cars for the first time at 16. “When I saw my sister racing, I wanted to try as well, and I loved it right from the start,” Yasmeen says about her beginnings in racing. “I initially started on the simulator, but shortly afterwards I went straight into racing in the Clio Cup. Then I tried Formula 4, off-road rallying, and GT4 endurance racing. I really trained on the job, so to speak, as I didn’t have any racing experience in karting or elsewhere beforehand.”


Learning by doing

The same can be said about how she started working in engineering. “When I had an accident in Spa two years ago, I hurt my wrist quite badly. Since then, I have been recuperating but I am still not back to 100%. As I haven’t been able to drive myself, but still went to the races with the team, last year the team engineers joked with me and said I should help them with the engineering side of the race. As I successfully completed an MBA in motorsports, specializing in motorsports engineering, I thought to myself ‘why not?’,“ Yasmeen remembers. 


This year is Yasmeen’s first full season as a junior performance engineer, working alongside the more experienced engineers of Buggyra ZM Racing. “No day is the same, but some of my tasks include collecting data from the car, monitoring tire and fuel use, reading onboards, or helping to set up the car. Recently, I have also been learning about race strategy. That’s quite hard but I really enjoy it!”


Once a racer, always a racer

Being a racer herself is a big advantage in her engineering work. It helped her at the start of her new job as she had seen the engineers at work many times before, so it wasn’t a completely new experience for her. But more importantly, she understands the driver and the car. “Being a race driver for sure helps my work today,” Yasmeen explains. “As a racer, I can feel the car. So now as an engineer, I have the advantage that I know what the car feels like, even though I am not sitting in it. I can say what works and what doesn’t. Or I can set a fast lap on the simulator, and we develop our race car to that.”


As if that wasn’t enough, Yasmeen has also been working as a driver coach at Buggyra Academy, a place where young talented racers are trained to move up the motorsport ladder. “As I have experience in racing, I coach some of the kids that are learning in our Buggyra Academy. I train them on the simulator, so they get to know the track. I help them to prepare as best as possible for the race itself, and to become a good racer on and off the track,” she explains.


Working with her sister

Yasmeen’s twin sister Aliyyah started racing a year before her and has been racing ever since. After having tried different series like Yasmeen, for the last two years Aliyyah has been focusing on GT endurance racing and off-road rallying, including the world-famous Dakar. In the beginning, working with Aliyyah in her new role took some getting used to for Yasmeen. “At first, it was a little strange and I was sad that I wasn’t driving. But I discovered a new role, and it is really fun working with Aliyyah in that new role. We are close, so she usually comes to me first with any questions she might have or to talk about the race. Plus, I have all the data from my sister’s driving now which is a great learning experience for me!,” Yasmeen says.


Racing isn’t off the table completely for Yasmeen though. “As I have still not recovered 100% from my accident in Spa two years ago, I am fully focused on engineering for now. But I do love to race, and I hope that I can go back to racing in the future. Off-road rallying is my favorite, the Dakar in particular. Ever since I went to my first Dakar when I was 16, I have just loved it.”

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