1997 Honda Civic Type R (EK9)

NZ Performance Car: Hi, Peach. Tell us how you got into cars and racing.
Peach: I have been fascinated by all things mechanical from a young age, helped along in part by my dad, and my uncle Matt, who used to build Land Cruisers in his garage while I watched and ‘helped’ as much as little girl could. I went to an all-girls school in Christchurch where absolutely nobody could understand my obsession with cars, and it wasn’t until university that I was able to get more into it — eventually becoming president of the University of Canterbury Motorsport Society (Motosoc). Now I compete in NZ Superlap.

It’s always good to have the girls involved. What led to the K-swapped EK9?
Well, if you had told me two years ago [that] I would be racing a Honda, I would have laughed. Prior to this, I had a 180SX Type X with an S15 front (strawberry face), which I tried to race, but it became very clear that I’d need to change chassis to find some reliability. I was convinced to buy a Batty (FD RX-7), but my husband, Joe, insisted we take a look at this K-swapped EK9. From the first third-gear pull, I was completely in love. It looked like a Honda; it smelled like a Honda; but shit, this car didn’t go like any Honda I had ever been in.

It seems to have served you well so far. What is it like being a female in the car/racing world?
This is a question I think about a lot. Being a female in an area that is heavily dominated by men will never be a walk in the park, but it is a lot easier now than when I first started. As a young girl with a passion for cars, [either] I got a lot of unwanted male attention or I was completely ignored. I found that my opinion wasn’t valued until I proved my abilities and hung around long enough to be heard. It was like a minefield. I decided the best way to play it was just to be myself and get along with everyone, which worked out fairly well. I started the nationwide club — Girls in Motorsport — to help others who might not have those people I do, by giving them a support network of other girls and supportive guys to help them wherever they need it. We are trying to remove this ‘real car girl’ label and help everyone recognize that any girl who is out there is ‘real’ enough for us.

And do you think there is enough encouragement for females now? 
I think we are getting there. Nowadays, we are seeing many more females at the top of their game and doing really well in their series. Take [NZ] Superlap, for example: we have a number of females doing exceptionally well, with three taking out awards, and that’s just one series. The level of encouragement, especially this year, has been absolutely amazing from all series, but there can always be more done to make women feel like they are on an even playing field, and we will get there, I think, by continuing to do what we are doing but also by encouraging people to welcome and support more women.

Well said, Peach. Thanks for the chat!

Petrea ‘Peach’ Ardagh
Age: 26
Location: Hamilton
Occupation: Solicitor

Engine: Honda K24A3, 2354cc, four-cylinder, SVM camshafts, Buddy Club valve springs and retainers, FD2R intake, S90 throttle body, 1000cc injectors, Moroso sump, K20 oil pump, AEM ECU, Toda headers, three-inch stainless exhaust system, Adrenalin R resonator and muffler
Drivetrain: DC5R six-speed, helical LSD, Pagid RSL1 race pads
Interior: Stripped, eight-point roll cage by Bernard Johnston at Johnston Customs, Racetech driver seat, Recaro Type R passenger seat, NZKW five-point harnesses
Exterior: Carbon-fibre bonnet, Coke Zero livery
Wheels/tyres: 16x7.5-inch Enkei, 225/45R16 Toyo R1R
Suspension: BC Gold coilovers
Power: 180kW
Fuel: 98 octane
Tuner: Jtune
Times: 13.3s quarter-mile; Hampton Downs: 1m 19s (street tyres); Taupo: 1m 48s (street tyres); Manfeild: 1m 23s (street tyres)


This article originally appeared in NZ Performance Car issue No. 248 — to get your grubby mitts on a print copy, click the cover below