Fox Sports presenter Jess Yates.
Fox Sports presenter Jess Yates. Contributed

Living life in the fast lane

JESS Yates feels right at home in pit lane.

Sure it's noisy, full of fumes and grease and you have to watch your step - but the Fox Sports presenter would rather be right in the thick of the action.

"You get caught up in the energy of everything and when you're immersed in pit lane you really feed off that energy and atmosphere," she tells The Guide.

Jess and the rest of the Fox Sports Supercars team are in north Queensland for this weekend's Townsville 400.

"The first year I went to Townsville I did a hot lap with Fabian Coulthard and it was awesome," she says. "It was an amazing experience to see it from where the drivers sit. It's a street circuit so it's all about how they use the kerb, how severe they brake. It's a concrete canyon, so everything has to be millimetre perfect."

Sitting squarely in the middle of the 2017 season, the Townsville 400 is a crucial event for the racing teams.

"It's an interesting period in the championship," Jess says. "Jamie Whincup having not won a race yet this year is unheard of. He'll be hard to beat up there.

"The Kiwis have won all but one race in 2017, so that rivalry is pretty interesting at the moment. I dare say a couple of Aussies will be looking to peg a few back on them."

Fox Sports Supercars presenter Jess Yates pictured trackside in Perth.
Fox Sports Supercars presenter Jess Yates pictured trackside in Perth. Contributed


In December last year, Jess was the first woman to win the Supercar Media Award and she believes there are more women involved in and watching the sport than ever before. It's also a passion she shares with her husband, former pro surfer Luke Egan.

"This year we have the first ever full-time female driver (Simona de Silvestro) in the championship," she says. "She's done such a fantastic job and she's a breath of fresh air. She has so much personality, she races hard and she's earned a lot of respect from all the other drivers. It's quite fascinating to consider motor sport is one of the only sports where men and women race equally.

"Simona certainly doesn't see herself as any different to anyone else competing nor do I as a host of the sport.I have wonderful colleagues and I've never felt like being a woman has made any difference good or bad, which is why I love it so much."

Jess didn't grow up in a family of petrol heads but she was exposed to motor sport from a young age and studied at Charles Sturt University in Bathurst, Australia's spiritual home of motor sport.

"The Bathurst 1000 was something I grew up watching," she says. "It's such an integral part of that Australian sporting event fabric. Like the Melbourne Cup, whether you're into horse racing or not you stop to watch it."

Fox Sports (channel 506) will broadcast every practice, qualifying session and race from the Townsville 400 live and ad-free from 10am tomorrow.