Though most commonly known for her run in the inaugural, all-female W Series campaign in 2019, Gosia Rdest already had an impressive endurance-racing resume to her name before that. Debuting at the Hankook 24H DUBAI in 2015, the Polish sensation has since secured a 3rd place in TCR in 2017, 2nd place in 991 in 2019, and secured her second class win this year with MRS GT-Racing, in 991, following a breakthrough victory with Phoenix Racing in 2018. After a three-year stint in the Audi Sport TT Cup, which included several podiums, rungs further up the motorsport ladder yielded runs in the GT4 European Series, the GT4 International Cup, and the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge, the latter as part of the GS category’s first all-female driver line-up with Ashley Freiberg.
Turns out she doesn’t lose much speed when she breaks her leg either…
“My name is Gosia Rdest, but the real version of my name is Malgorzata. That’s hard to pronounce though, so for international races, I use the short version, Gosia.”
“Actually, just three days after the 24H DUBAI, I celebrated my birthday on 14 January, and this year I turned 27.”
“My first ever car race was at the Red Bull Ring in a VW Golf in the Polish. Volkswagen Castrol Cup. That was in 2013, so I was around 19 years old.*
“It’s funny, I actually started racing quite by accident! My father took me to a kart track and at the time – I was 16 – and I loved it from the first lap. But I had no idea there could be something like a career as a go-kart driver. I thought it was just a hobby and that’s it. But then I researched it further and I discovered the European Karting Championship, the World Karting Championship… series that weren’t just indoor! So I made a bet with my father that if I finished on the podium of an amateur karting tournament, he would buy me a go-kart to train with. I finished 3rd, and that’s how everything started.”
*We should point out that, before this in 2012, Gosia was also part of the BMW Talent Cup, an evolution of the Formula BMW single series that folded in 2013.
“Definitely 2018. It was quite a busy year for me. That was my first season in GT cars, and I was competing in the GT4 European Series with Phoenix Racing in an Audi R8 LMS GT4 [partnering Cédric Freiburghaus], and we had a few podium finishes. We also won the [Hankook] 24H DUBAI in the GT4 class that year, we won a round of the GT4 European Central Cup, and I did the Polish Touring Car Championship too” – the WSMP, or Wyścigowe Samochodowe Mistrzostwa Polski – “So 2018 was quite busy and quite successful.”
“I would say definitely ‘motivated’, ‘ambitious’, and ‘dreamer'."
“Yes, in terms of my future, setting goals, dreaming has been a big part of racing for me. No-one in my family has ever been involved in motorsport. Everything started with me, and it was just a dream, and I’m living my dream right now. Doing everything that’s possible to fulfil that dream and to make it possible to continue this racing adventure.”
“[Pause] The strangest thing was probably Dubai this year. The red flag at the was quite unique because I’d never seen such heavy rain. There was standing water everywhere and we only completed seven hours of the race. I’d never experienced that before.
“Also, when I broke my leg at Zandvoort 2017. It was during qualifying for the Audi Sport TT Cup. I was pushing, I had good pace, but I was missing a tenth to qualify 3rd. But the tyres weren’t there any more, I had slight understeer, I went across the gravel, spun, and hit the wall. In the car, my foot hit the ‘foot rest’ and I broke a bone.
“I actually thought everything was okay! My foot was swollen but I still wanted to do the race and finished 4th!”
“So the helmet is not very flashy because I want it to be very clean and visible on-track. But it’s been painted to look a little beaten, with scratches, so it shows that I’m a hard fighter!
“It’s painted by Bell, but it’s quite special because the look is done entirely by me and a friend of mine who is a graphic designer. All of my helmets are yellow, which is inspired by Ayrton Senna, and we’ve added a larger green stripe. At the front of my helmet, along the jaw, I have the Polish flag, which is white and red. On the top, I have the symbol of my country, which is an eagle, and at the back, I have my lucky number, which is ‘3’. Whenever I can race with number ‘3’, I do, and I’ve done that in the W Series, the TT Cup and the GT4 European Series.”
“That started in karting. I was doing the [CIK FIA] European Karting Championship, and free Practice was about to start. I didn’t have a number on my go-kart, so my mechanic told me to run to the truck and get one of the stickers, otherwise we would not be allowed to start the session. I was meant to have two numbers, and I ended up taking two ‘3’s. So I decided to stick with that.”
“That’s quite easy to answer because there’s one circuit I’ve never driven on, and it’s the most famous, the most legendary, the most challenging…”
“Yes it is! On the Nürburgring, I’ve driven the Grand Prix circuit, but I never had the chance to do the Nordschleife because I don’t have my permit yet. So that is another goal of mine. I think that will be one of the biggest challenges in my racing career because the track is very demanding and has no run-off area. That’s a challenge I’d love to face!”
“I’m not someone who gets annoyed easily…[pause]… Aneta, what annoys me?
Aneta Trzyna, who’s sitting dutifully nearby in the MSR GT-Racing motorhome, is Gosia’s friend and manager. After a quick conversation in their native tongue, Aneta suggests…
A: “You don’t like to lose!
G: “Oh I definitely don’t like losing. For sure all athletes hate that. And for me, especially if I think I’m missing something but can’t do anything about it, that annoys me more and more and more. So maybe sometimes I’m a little too ambitious, and it’s easy for me to get upset!”
“My goal and my dream is to be a DTM driver. I would really love to do that.
“I’m quite realistic, so I know that with Formula 1, the game is already over. I don’t have the single seater experience, and I’ve only done one year of Formula 4 [in 2011] and one in the W Series . With Le Mans and long-distance races, yes of course, that would be great, but to be honest, I personally enjoy sprint racing more. Plus, a few friends of mine have already had a chance to race there, like Sheldon van der Linde and Pietro Fittipaldi. So I know the level is very high!
“That dream is always in the back of my head, and it keeps me motivated and helps me to work hard. The opportunity may come and I want to make sure ready.”
“I speak German, English and Polish, and I just started learning French. I also know a few words in Spanish, but only a few words.
“What’s quite funny is that I know quite a few songs in different languages too. So I know song lyrics in Arabic, in Indian, in Spanish and in Italian, for example. I don’t know why, but if I like the song, I find it quite easy to memorise the words.”
“I think definitely the adrenaline and the team spirit. I really enjoyed working with MRS GT-Racing again, doing our best together, because endurance racing is quite complex. It’s not just about you. It’s about other drivers, about how the car is prepared for everyone, and about the team spirit. That’s very important to me.”
*Gosia Rdest was speaking with James Gent at the 2020 Hankook 24H DUBAI. Images courtesy of Petr Frýba and Audi Motorsport.