ONE of Scotland's fastest rising young female rally drivers is bracing herself for her next big challenge after recording a Scottish Rally Championships placing in her first ever event.

Student Caroline Carslaw, 20, from Ayrshire, only started rally driving in November but is now limbering up for a second top flight national championship run after finishing second in class in the Borders counties rally last month.

She was one of only two women in the race and the only Scotswoman to take part out of 91 drivers.

Carslaw managed to impress the Knockhill driving test team so much with her skills last year that she passed her rally licence qualifications on her first attempt.

The third-year Strathclyde University student said studies for her masters in mechanical engineering helped prepare her for the male-dominated motoring world.

Carslaw, of Dunlop, said she is considering designing cars in future but is keeping both her engineering and rallying career options open.

She said: "To be honest, with the conditions being so bad I was really happy just to have finished all the stages of the rally unscathed. Coming second was an unexpected bonus."

Her navigator is Dr John Duke, an Ayrshire GP who contested British Championship events in the 1980s and 1990s.

Her father and current sponsor Donald Carslaw was also an amateur driver, and she is being coached by former Scottish champion and Vauxhall factory driver Andrew Wood, from Melrose. Her next event is the Granite City Rally in Aberdeen on April 20, covering 45 miles of Forestry Commission Scotland tracks around Aberdeenshire.

The rally will be only her second on gruelling forest roads.

She said: "I feel quite good about it after the Borders. The day before it I'm getting some help from Andrew Wood with my training."