Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Valentina Albanese


Valentina on the podium

Valentina is an Italian one-make specialist who often drives a SEAT, and is involved with the make on an official basis. She has achieved good results in individual and team racing.

Born in 1974, she got her first steps in motorsport in 1994, winning a “Volante Rosa” women’s driving competition, organised by a motoring magazine. Although she was not from a motor racing family, she had been interested in cars from a young age. She gravitated towards saloon racing from the start. Two years later, she took to the track in the Citroen Saxo Cup. She won her first championship in Italy in 1998, the Ladies’ class of the Saxo Cup.

Sticking with one-make championships, she had her next notable success in 2001, when she won some rounds of the Smart Cup in Italy, and was second in the championship. These were the first outright wins of her career.

That year, she also had her first races in the Volkswagen Fun Cup, driving a Beetle. The Cup would be her main sporting home until 2008. During her time in the Fun Cup, Valentina won several races, and was invited to be a part of the Uniroyal team in 2005. For two seasons, she was part of a Uniroyal all-female team with Francesca Pardini, following on from the “Rain Tyre Ladies” (Sylvie Delcour, Fanny Duchateau and Sabine Dubois.) In 2008, driving for a different, mixed team with Luca Trevisol, she won the European and Italian Fun Cups.

Valentina, driving alone, also raced in the Campionato Italiano Turismo Endurance that season, driving a diesel SEAT Leon TDI. This was the first year of a partnership with SEAT that has lasted many years. Driving for the Italian SEAT team, she won one race, and was tenth in the championship.

In 2009 she once again drove for SEAT in the Campionato Italiano Turismo Endurance, and won the diesel class. Alongside Gianni Giudici of Scuderia Giudici, who was the runner-up, she dominated the season.

In 2010, she was third in the main class of the same championship, driving a similar SEAT Leon, powered by petrol this time. Although she was not able to record a win, she finished on the podium a number of times. Of the four SEAT Italy drivers, she was the highest-placed.

A period of relative competitive inactivity followed. In 2011, she only made some guest appearances in the Ibiza Cup section of the CITE, as she was working for the SEAT team. She retained her SEAT links in 2012, but seems to have only carried out media work for the marque.

Her only big race during this time was the Zhuhai 500-mile race in December 2012. Sharing a Mercedes C63 AMG with Michela Cerruti, she was second overall. The team challenged for the win at some points during the race.

 In 2013, she seems to have concentrated on test-driving for SEAT, although she also demonstrated a Mercedes in Jerusalem.

Again, in 2014, she tested cars for SEAT, but did not race.

She returned to competition in 2015, in a SEAT Leon. She won the Italian Endurance Touring Car Championship (CITE) outright, partnered by Jordi Gené for part of the season. After leading for most of the season, she won the penultimate race to seal her victory. It was her fifth win of the year, from eight races, and she was forty points ahead of her nearest rivals, Stefano Valli and Vincenzo Montalbano.

Away from her racing and her promotional work for SEAT, Valentina works as a lawyer. She has stated that her motorsport ambition is to race a Super Touring-spec car in a major championship.

(Image from http://www.hdmotori.it/)

Thursday, 4 February 2016

Charlotte Dalmasso


Charlotte in 2015

Charlotte was the 2013 French Ladies’ Champion. She has been active as a driver since 2011, when she was twenty. Normally a tarmac specialist, she can and does compete on both surfaces.

Her first car was a Peugeot 207 RC R3T, which she used in mostly gravel rallies. Her best finish was 16th, in the Rally Antibes Côte d’Azur. This was not her only top-twenty finish: she was 19th in the Rallye National des 10,000 Virages, the National event that ran alongside the Tour de Corse. She was competing in the Volant Peugeot one-make championship, and was fourteenth at the end of the season.

For most of 2012, she used the same car, staying in the same championship for part of the year. Early in the season, she bettered her best result to fifteenth, in the Rallye National Terre Ouest Provence, a gravel rally. She did one rally in a S2000-spec 207, the Rallye du Var, and was 42nd, eighth in the French Amateur class. Just before, she did the Haut Pays-Niçois Rally in a 206, trying different cars, but keeping with the Peugeot marque. She was 47th. Two of her three Volant Peugeot rallies ended in mechanical failure, so she was out of the running in that championship, but she did manage her first points in the French Amateur championship this year.

She did two more events in S2000 207 in 2013: the Rallye Régional du Médoc, in which she was 44th, and the Rallye Régional Limousin Lac de Vassivière, which she did not finish, after an alternator problem. Most of the season was spent in a 208 VTi R2, including the Alsace Rallye de France, a WRC round. She was 47th overall, and won the Coupe des Dames. She also tried out an Opel Adam in the Rallye Régional de la Croisette, and was 48th. This year, she picked up a few points in the French Tarmac championship, and won her Ladies’ Championship, ahead of Charlotte Berton, her closest rival.

Her 2014 season began badly, with two crashes in her first two rallies. However, she was soon back on track, driving the 208, and managed a 17th place on her favourite event, the Rally Antibes Côte d’Azur. She was also 25th in the Critérium des Cévennes, with an eighth place in the Tarmac standings, the same as in the Antibes event. Although she finished higher in the Tarmac standings than Charlotte Berton, she could not catch her for the Ladies' award, as Charlotte had one more Ladies’ class win than her. She was thirteenth in the French Tarmac championship, and fifteenth in the Amateur competition.

In 2015, she pushed her international career further, entering three rounds of the World Championship: Corsica, Portugal and Monte Carlo. The best of these for her was Portugal, where she was 57th overall and tenth in the JWRC class. Corsica was a disaster, ending in a crash. The Monte fell somewhere in the middle; she finished, in 61st place, just behind her countrywoman, Laure Jaussaud. This was not as good an overall position for her, but she did get into the JWRC and WRC3 top ten for the first time. For most of the season, she drove a Citroen DS3, in both WRC and French rallies, although she did have some outings in a Peugeot 207 and 208. Her best French rally was probably the Antibes event, in which she won the Coupe des Dames, and was twelfth in the French tarmac championship. She was 22nd overall. For this event, she used the S2000-spec 207. Driving the Citroen, she equalled her 22nd place in the Vaison-la-Romaine Rally. Despite two class wins, she could not catch Sophie Laurent for the Coupe des Dames. She was tenth in the Amateur Trophy, and 21st in the French Tarmac championship.

Charlotte is also active as a co-driver, and started her career in the navigator’s seat in 2009.    

(Image from www.charlottedalmasso.com)

Thursday, 28 January 2016

Christina Nielsen


Christina and team-mates on the Sebring podium, 2015

Christina is a Danish driver who had her debut single-seater season in 2010. She now competes in sportscar racing, with considerable success.

Although she comes from a motorsport background, she did not get her first taste of racing until she was fourteen, when she tried karting for the first time. A competitive international karting career followed, for the next four year.

During her first year in cars, she competed in Danish Formula Ford, Formula Masters in Germany, and Benelux Formula Ford. Her best result was in the Danish series, where she was ninth overall. Her best race results were two fifths, at Zandvoort and Jyllandsringen. She managed top ten places during her part-seasons in the other European Formula Ford championships: tenth places at Assen (Benelux Formula Ford) and Oschersleben (Formula Masters). Formula Masters gave her a 17th place, and the Benelux series, fourteenth.

After six races in 2010, she settled for ADAC Formel Masters in Germany, for 2011. Her best finish was eighth, at Assen, and she was 24th overall. Although her finishing record was good, she was not really able to make her way into the top ten.

In 2012, she made her first move towards sportscar racing, and competed in the Porsche Carrera Cup in Germany. She managed one top-ten, a ninth at the Nürburgring. In November, she began racing in the Middle East edition of the Porsche Carrera Cup, the first female driver to do so. She was eighth in the championship, with two fifth places, at Losail and Dubai. Mostly, she finished in the lower reaches of the top ten.

For the main part of the 2013 season, she competed in the ADAC GT Masters, in a Farnbacher Racing Porsche 911 GT3. She managed to inch into the top ten, in ninth, on two occasions, at Lausitz and Hockenheim. The last race of her season was a guest spot in the Petit Le Mans race, in another Porsche. She and her team-mates, Nicolas Armindo and Angel Benitez, were seventh in class, and 28th overall. She also drove a Farnbacher Porsche 997 in the Nürburgring 24 Hours, but did not finish. Her team-mates were Tomas Pivoda and Leh Keen.

At the end of 2013, she did another winter season in the Middle East Porsche Cup. She was eleventh this time, repeating her fifth place at Dubai Autodrome.

2014 was an extremely busy year for her. Driving a Porsche 911 in North America, she took part in the United Sports Car Championship and the GT3 Cup Challenge, in both the USA and Canada. She raced in the entire US GT3 Cup, and scored three podium positions, a second at Lime Rock and two thirds. She was sixth in the championship. Towards the end of the season, she made a couple of guest appearances in the Pirelli World Challenge, in the GT class, driving an Aston Martin GT3. She was 16th and eleventh at Sonoma. Back in Europe, and back with the Porsche, she drove for the French IMSA Performance Matmut team for three rounds. Her best finish was eighth, at Paul Ricard.

This season, she made her first attempts at the big classic sportscar races. Driving for the NGT team in the Tudor United Sports Car Championship, she was 28th in the Daytona 24 Hours, in the 911. She and her usual team-mates, plus fellow Dane, Nicki Thiim, were 28th, and ninth in class. The second round of the championship was the Sebring 12 Hours, and NGT entered a three-driver team, including Christina. She did not finish, due to an accident 61 laps in.

In 2015, she raced an Aston Martin V12 Vantage, mainly in the USA. She entered both the Tudor United Sportscar Championship and the Pirelli World Challenge. She did exceptionally well in the Tudor series, driving for the TRG-AMR team, and went in to the final round, Petit Le Mans, able to win the class championship. In the end, she was second, by two points, lacking the race win that the two victors had. That year, she finished her second Sebring 12 Hours, and recorded the best overall finish of her year: 16th. She was second in class, driving with James Davison and Brandon Davis. They started from 32nd on the grid. This was one of four seconds Christina achieved this year, the others coming at Belle Isle, Road Atlanta and Virginia.  
She did most of the Pirelli series, and did manage a class win in the eleventh round, although she was not able to challenge for class honours.

At the end of 2015, it was announced that Christina would be part of the squad for Formula Racing’s Le Mans and ELMS programme, driving a Ferrari. She was down as a reserve driver for the team before the 2015 race, but did not make the start.

Her father is Lars Erik Nielsen, who raced at Le Mans. Both father and daughter now joke that Christina used to be known as Lars Erik’s daughter, now Lars Erik is known for being Christina’s father.

(Image from http://racemag.dk/)

Sunday, 10 January 2016

Speedqueens sends its condolences to the family and friends of Maria Teresa de Filippis


11th November 1926 - 9th January 2016


Read Maria Teresa's Speedqueens biography here.

(Image from http://katyfairman.blogspot.co.uk/2015/03/MariaTeresaDeFilippis.html)

Monday, 21 December 2015

Winter Break

Speedqueens is currently undergoing its yearly update and clean-up, so there will be no new posts for a while.

Merry Christmas, see you all next year!

Sunday, 20 December 2015

Ulrike Krafft


Ulrike on the ETCC podium in 2013

Ulrike Krafft is a German driver who has been competing in the ETCC since 2011.

She began at the age of 20, in slaloms in 2004, winning her first title in 2005, driving an Opel Corsa. This was her first experience of any kind of motorsport, and she showed flair and competitiveness very early on.

Her first circuit races were in 2006, in the Dacia Logan Cup in Germany. Her best finishes were three fifth places. She did these alongside slaloms, in which she was still highly competitive, finishing second in her club’s championships for young drivers and allcomers.

She carried on in the Logan Cup in 2007, and performed well enough to win her club’s racing championship. Her season started very well, with a win at Oschersleben, but a series of technical problems later on put her and her team-mates out of the running.

2008 was a similar story. Ulrike and her team-mate, Henrik Stoldt, were very competitive, and even led the championship, until the final round. A lost wheel and other mechanical problems lost them the title. They were awarded the “Fairness Cup” as a consolation, for their sportsmanship.

The following year was a quiet one for Ulrike. Her ADAC Hansa team only entered one round of the Logan Cup, in which Ulrike was fourth. She spent much of the rest of the year concentrating on her university studies. She qualified in engineering, after studying in Hamburg and France, and earning herself a job with Bosch.

Following her graduation, she returned to motorsport, and moved up to the ADAC Procar series.  She was with the ATM Ladies team, driving a Ford Fiesta in Division II. She was fifth in the division, with a best finish of second, at Hockenheim, one of three podium places. The team consisted of three female drivers: Ulrike, Saskia Müller and Stephanie Neitzel, who also managed the team.  

In 2010, she also tried rallying, in a Dacia Logan, both as a driver and co-driver. Driving, she entered the Niedersachsen Rally, but did not finish. Her navigator was Katharina Wüstenhagen. As a co-driver, she was also unsuccessful, scoring a DNF in the Ostsee Rally with Pierre Humbert.

On the circuits, she held position in 2011, finishing fifth despite a slightly shortened season, with two second places at Oschersleben and Sachsenring, and a third at the Sachsenring. Sadly, a technical problem with the Fiesta, which began with a DNF at Zolder, put her out of four races. She also made her debut appearance in the ETCC, which was a two-round meeting at Salzburg. She was second in class for her two races, driving the Fiesta.

In 2012, she moved into the ETCC full-time, in the S1600 class, driving a different Fiesta, run by the Ravenol team. The championship had now expanded to four rounds. She was third in the S1600 championship, with a best finish of second, at Monza, plus third places at Imola, Salzburg and the Slovakiaring.

She contested the ETCC again in 2013, which was run over ten races, in five rounds. She was quite successful, winning her class once at Pergusa, and finishing third on six occasions. Her overall result was third in the Super 1600 class, in the Fiesta. However, she lost her Ladies' crown to Andrina Gugger, who was racing in the more powerful Super 2000 class.

In 2014, she came back to the ETCC, still in the Fiesta. She was a leading player in the S1600 class again, with five wins, from five pole positions. She was second in the S1600 standings, and would have won, had she not suffered two non-finishes at Zolder, where she started from pole. An official Ladies’ Trophy was awarded this year, and Ulrike won it easily, from Ksenya Niks and Andrina Gugger.

2015 was not quite as successful a season as 2014, but Ulrike was still one of the drivers to beat in S1600, in her Fiesta. She won one race, at the Slovakiaring, having started from pole. She earned a second pole position at Pergusa, at the end of the season, but could only convert it to a win in the second race. She was third overall.

Ulrike’s long-term aim is to race in the WTCC.

(Image copyright Brigitta Niemann)

Thursday, 17 December 2015

Jamie Chadwick


Jamie (right), Ross Gunn and the Beechdean Aston Martin

Jamie Chadwick graduated to senior motorsport in 2015. She is a product of the Ginetta sportscar racing development ladder, one of a few female racers to utilise this route into the sport.

Jamie began karting at the age of twelve. Taking advantage of the opportunities in the UK for juniors to race on full circuits, she switched to cars after only two years.

She was the winner of the Ginetta Junior Scholarship in 2012, at fourteen, beating around sixty other young drivers to the prize of a fully-funded season in the Ginetta Junior Championship in 2013.

She took up her prize-drive in Ginetta Juniors in 2013. Between her scholarship win and the start of the season proper, she took part in the three-round Winter Series at Rockingham, finishing seventh. She was the highest-scoring first-timer.

During her 2013 season, her best result was fifth, at Knockhill.  She was usually inside the top ten, averaging seventh place, but she also had some disappointments; she racked up three DNFs that year. She was tenth overall. Her brother, Ollie, also raced in the series against her.

She had a second full season of Ginetta Juniors in 2014. Her year started well, with a podium: a third place at Brands Hatch. She racked up four more podium finishes, all thirds, and was eighth in the championship. 

Following her seventeenth birthday in 2015, it was time to move on. Jamie jumped straight into the British GT Championship, in the GT4 class. Her car was no less than an Aston Martin Vantage, run by the Beechdean-AMR team. With her partner, Ross Gunn, she got off to another good start, with two second places at Oulton Park, followed by two wins, at Rockingham and Silverstone, a second place at Spa and a third at Brands Hatch. The only real disappointment of the season was a disqualification at Oulton, following their second place on the track. The exclusion was for causing an accident, although it was not deliberate. At the end of the season, this did not count for much; Jamie and Ross were British GT4 champions. Jamie is the youngest ever winner of the title.

2015 had one more adventure for Jamie. The Beechdean team entered the Vantage in the Britcar 24 Hours at Silverstone, driven by Jamie, plus Jonny Adam, Harry Whale and Andrew Howard. They won the race from pole. This was the first win for a female driver in this event.

In recognition of her achievements, the BRDC nominated Jamie as one of their Rising Stars in 2015, along with the support that the award entails. The BWRDC has put her forward for their Gold Star award, for outstanding female drivers. She is also part of the Evolution Academy for young drivers, run by Aston Martin and Prodrive.

(Image from http://www.prodrive.com/)