Rianna O' Meara Hunt: Stopping at Nothing

July 11, 2024

Hailing from Wellington, New Zealand you would be hard pressed to find a driver more dedicated, passionate or with a bigger smile than our Kiwi Superstar, Rianna O’Meara Hunt. The 22 year old has stopped at nothing to pursue her dreams of becoming a professional racing driver and this journey so far has seen her notch up some mightily impressive achievements on track.

2024 sees Rianna embarking on her biggest challenge yet, packing up all her belongings and moving 12,000 miles around the world to the UK as she looks to continue her pioneering journey for female representation in motorsport and chase down her ultimate goal of reaching the pinnacle of GT racing and competing in the 24 Hours of Le Mans! 

Rianna began her racing journey like many other budding, young drivers in the karting ranks, where she would amass plenty of championship victories, wins and podiums across some of the most competitive karting championships across New Zealand between 2014 and 2022. Rianna would rapidly become hot property in the karting scene, and she would take her first steps into the world of car racing behind the wheel of a Toyota GT86 in the intensely competitive Toyota 86 Championship.

“We had some brilliant success and plenty of memories from my time in go-karts, so when the opportunity to get behind the wheel of a proper race car for the first time came around, I had to jump at the opportunity. The Toyota 86 Championship is widely regarded in New Zealand and was the ideal stepping stone for me as I looked to chase my dream of GT racing and it was where I discovered the Walero base layers for the very first time!”

“Alongside my racing, RaceLab gave me the opportunity to test an Aston Martin Vantage GT4 as they were looking to support my upcoming driver shootout with the Heart of Racing over in the States,” she recalls. ‘I built up a brilliant relationship with the team, especially Neil, and he came to me one day saying that he had some really cool products he wanted me to try which had just landed in New Zealand! From the moment I put the Walero base layers on, I immediately felt so comfortable and it did exactly what it said on the tin.”

2022 would see Rianna enter the prestigious Heart of Racing driver shootout, which looked to provide two female racers the fantastic opportunity to compete in the SRO GT4 America SprintX Championship. Out of close to 100 entrants, Rianna would be chosen to compete in the final shootout held in Phoenix, Arizona. After an impressive performance, Rianna would be chosen as one of the two winners and landed herself a seat alongside American racer, Hannah Grisham, for the 2023 season.

“Being selected as one of the two winners for the Heart of Racing shootout is an accomplishment I will hold very close to my heart. To be selected from a group of extremely talented Female racers who had years of experience compared to myself was a massive confidence boost and I was delighted to be given such a prestigious opportunity so early in my career. It gave my racing journey the boost it needed to take the next step and as a result I gained plenty of admiration and without the support of the team at RaceLab back in New Zealand, and the comfort Walero provided me in the cockpit during the shootout, I doubt I would have been as prepared to give it my all out on track.”

In only her second year of racing cars and inaugural season of GT4 racing, 2023 was a year of firsts for Rianna. A new country, a new series, a new car and new tracks there was certainly a lot to get her head around at each event. But together, Rianna and Hannah, would notch up some brilliant accolades which catapulted them into recognition worldwide amongst the sportscar scene.

At the infamous Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the pair would make history. They became the first all-female driver lineup to stand on the podium for Aston Martin Racing as they claimed a brilliant overall victory! In the process, they also became the first female race winners behind the wheel of the Aston Martin Vantage GT4, a superb achievement.

“That weekend at Indianapolis is one of the proudest moments from my career so far,” Rianna reflected. “We came into the weekend wanting more as the season hadn’t quite been as we expected due to some challenging results, but we kept on pushing. Coming across the line in P1 was an unbelievable feeling for me and one I will cherish forever. To secure the first all-female win for the Aston Martin brand was another accolade I can add to my list and it really helped me to push on for the rest of the season.”

Throughout her career, Rianna has looked to champion inclusion and diversity in motorsport and this has stemmed from her experiences as a young racer and that victory at Indianapolis has become a key pillar of her mission to raise wider awareness of inclusion in the sport.

“Another massively important part of the victory was the impact it had for female representation in the sport I love so dearly. We gained worldwide coverage in the racing media and to shine the spotlight on our success as Female drivers to show that we can achieve anything was an amazing achievement. My journey to that point had been difficult, as a Female driver it feels like you have a lot to prove if you want to progress in your career, so to get the result and mark a historic achievement for a massive racing brand in Aston Martin, was certainly not a bad way to go about it!”

“I think we are heading towards a point where all female drivers are being viewed more equally compared to the guys. It has definitely been improving over the years and I have seen and felt a change when it comes to my experiences in the sport as well, but there is still a little way to go. Partnering with a brand like Walero, who are always continuing to explore how they can support female drivers has been a massive help and really shows that with the right approach, we can continue to make a difference.”

This year has seen Rianna continue to make massive strides forward in her career, in the early months of 2024, she took the decision to move to Europe for eight weeks to explore several opportunities competing in European GT races and this included several highlight performances for the Kiwi. She collected two impressive podiums at Portimao behind the wheel of a BMW M4 GT4 with FK Performance Motorsport and also competed in her first-ever 24 hour race in Dubai as she looked to further enhance her knowledge and understanding of endurance racing.

Now, as Rianna has settled permanently in the UK , and looks to continue down her chosen career path of endurance racing, her main focus this season so far has been competing in the GT Cup with Forsetti Motorsport behind the wheel of an Aston Martin. Alongside this, she has also been named on the coveted AMR Driver Academy Programme, another achievement she reflects on fondly.

“Being named as an Aston Martin Academy driver was a great way to kickstart the 2024 season! It was an honour to be named amongst some incredibly talented guys and girls and it offers the perfect platform to push forward in my career.”

Rianna’s season so far has been a ‘roaring success’ in her words, she has notched up an impressive collection of results with one victory and five second place finishes in both the sprint and endurance categories combined. 

“I have loved every minute of my racing this year and it has been a thoroughly enjoyable experience for me this season. Racing in an all-female line up again with my teammate, Jodie Sloss has been a real joy and we have really made a name for ourselves in the championship so far this year. Collecting a win and five podiums in the first three rounds is a great achievement and it shows we are more than capable of mixing it up with the guys at the front of the pack. To be continually pushing for female representation by competing alongside Jodie is another bonus as I look to continue my journey towards the pinnacle of sportscar racing.”

Finally, when asked about her wider dreams and aspirations for the future, Rianna only had one answer…

“Le Mans,” she answered excitedly. “I want to be the first Female driver from New Zealand to compete at the 24 Hours of Le Mans and to get the chance to race in such an iconic event is my ultimate ambition. Alongside this, I want to reach the top step of endurance racing whether that be GT World Challenge, IMSA or FIA WEC and if I was to get there in the coming years then I would be over the moon to further champion female representation at the very top!”

It is clear to see Rianna is driven and ambitious, two qualities we echo here at Walero, as she continues to pave the way for inclusion and representation in the sport. We can’t wait to see what the future holds for Rianna’s incredible journey so far and we are overjoyed to have her with us here at Walero!

You can follow Rianna’s racing journey across her Instagram, Facebook and website.

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