Friday, 15 February 2019

Junior Rallying

Alice Paterson and Amy McCubbin

Junior rallying for 14-17 year olds is a relatively recent innovation, mainly found in the UK and Scandinavia. Girls are often involved. Below are profiles of some of the youngest rally drivers in Europe.

Lina Björklund - currently competes in the Junior class of Swedish rallying. She started her rally career in 2013, in a Volvo 940, and was 53rd in her first event, the LRD-Ruschen. This was enough to attract the attention of Ramona Karlsson, who named her as one of her “Young Female Drivers”, who are being mentored by Ramona. In 2014, she undertook a wide programme of Swedish rallies, and enjoyed a best finish of eleventh, in the Föneruschen event. She also scored three Youth class wins, quite early in the season, and was a strong contender for the championship. She also managed another, separate class win in the Kullingstrofén, and was 75th overall. In 2017, she did not manage many rallies, but was twelfth in the Jamtrallyt, in the Volvo. Prior to taking up rallying, Lina competed on the circuits for three years, in the Renault Junior Cup. In 2012, she was second in the championship, with three wins.

Jenna McCann – Irish driver who came to prominence competing in the Junior championship in Ireland. In 2017, she won the Irish Junior Tarmac Championship. She started her 2015 campaign in a Peugeot 106, which gave her a best finish of sixth in the Cavan Stages Junior Rally, but became increasingly reliable. A Ford Fiesta R2 proved more reliable, and gave her two fifth places, in the Clare and Wexford Junior rallies. She was seventh in the championship overall, and the only female driver. A move into the Irish National Championship in 2016 led to a win her class in the Cavan Stages, finishing 47th overall. She finished all ten of her events. She won her first rally in 2017: the Cork 20 International Junior Rally. In 2018, she mostly took part in senior events in her Fiesta, in both Eire and Northern Ireland. Her first experiences with rallying came from navigating for her father, James McCann, in 2013.

Amy McCubbin - active in junior rallies in the UK since 2016, when she was fourteen years old. In her first season, she was eleventh in the 1000 Junior Ecosse championship, driving a Nissan Micra. Her best finish was ninth in the ABR Travel Services Junior Rally. In 2017, she improved dramatically, and became a regular top ten finisher, despite swapping her Micra for a Skoda Citigo. Her best finish has been fifth, in the Granite Junior Stages, driving the Citigo. She was seventh in the 2017 Junior 1000 Ecosse Challenge. In 2018, she continued for another season as a junior, in the Citigo.

Kasia Nicklin - one of the youngest-ever rally drivers in the UK. She began rallying in 2010 in Junior F1000, aged fourteen. Her car was a Nissan Micra, and her best result was fourth in the Junior class, in the Hall Trophy Stages. In 2011, she continued in the same series and the same car, and was a more consistent top-ten contender, with multiple fourth places. In 2012, she continued in the Junior class, and achieved second places in the Honington and Woodbridge Stages. She was seventh in the junior class. She did three major rallies in 2013, in the Micra. Her best finish was 20th on the Woodbridge Stages, where she won her class. She does not appear to have competed in 2014, but she managed to get out again in the Micra in 2015. Her best result was 24th, second in class, in the Flying Fortress Stages.

Alice Paterson - started rallying at the age of fourteen in 2016. She contested the 1000 Junior Ecosse Challenge and was twelfth overall, driving a Peugeot 107. Her best rally result was thirteenth, which she achieved on five out of her six rallies. She stuck with the same car for 2017 and earned some better finishes; four out of her five rallies have ended in top tens. The best of these was a fifth place in the 5 Star Junior Stages. Both Alice and Amy McCubbin spoke out in the Scottish papers against David Coulthard when he cast doubts on women’s ability to race cars. Her 2018 season was quite similar, although she did suffer a couple of retirements.

Erica Winning - took part in junior rallies in the UK in 2018, driving a Nissan Micra. She mostly competed in Scotland, in the Junior 1000 Ecosse Challenge. From seven events, all of which she finished, she managed four top-tens, the best of these being two ninth places in the Condor Memorial Gardens and 5 Star Junior Stages. 2018 was her first season as a rally driver.

(Image from

Thursday, 13 December 2018

Rallycross in Scandinavia

Magda Andersson

The Scandinavian nations produce many rallycross drivers and women get in on the action too, especially in the national championships.

My Adolfsson - rallycross driver from Sweden. She raced in the Swedish junior championship in 2014, in a Vauxhall Corsa. Her first race came when she was still only 16. Due to car problems, she did not complete all the rounds. She was fifteenth overall in the NGK Masters, after finishing second in one of her qualifying races, then suffering more car trouble. Previously, she competed in Folkrace, from the age of fourteen, and she still races on occasion, in the Women’s class. Her 2015 season in the Swedish rallycross championship was badly affected by a leg injury to My, who sat out part of the year following surgery. At the end of the year, she returned for the season finale, driving her Corsa. She is or was part of Ramona Karlsson’s Young Female Drivers mentoring project. In 2017, she took part in Folkrace events.

Magda Andersson – Swedish rallycross driver who competes in the European championships. She began her rallycross career in 2012, at the age of fourteen, when she was second in the JRX (Junior Rallycross) Cup. After a couple of seasons in JRX and in the Swedish championship, she started racing in the Touring Car class of the ERC in 2015. Her car was a Ford Fiesta. She made her first final in the second round of the championship, at Lydden Hill, finishing fifth. She was then second at Estering in Germany, and third in her home race of Höljesbanan, which gave her fourth in the championship. She returned to the Touring Car championship for 2016 and won the first round. She was second in the category overall. In 2017, she changed car and team, to a Marklund Motorsport-run VW Polo. She entered the Supercar class for the first time, but found it hard going. Her best result was a sixth place in France and she was 16th in the championship.  

Camilla Antonsen - winner of the North European Zone 4WD Championship in 2010. Her car was a Ford Fiesta ST. She has been competing on and off in the Norwegian championship since 1998, after some time spent in autocross and rallying. Between 2002 and 2004, she also made various starts in the Norwegian Touring Car championship, driving a Vauxhall Vectra. Her best results were two podiums in 2003, leading to a seventh place in the series. In 2011, she was second in the NEZ 4WD championship, as well as taking part in the Scandinavian rounds of the European Championship and the top-level Norwegian series. In 2012, she won the Supercar division of the Norwegian championship, in the Fiesta. She was also seventh in the NEZ 4WD championship, after winning the Norwegian round. She switched to rallying in 2013, in a BMW M3 and Renault Twingo. Rallycross was not forgotten in 2014. She raced a Ford Fiesta in the European championship, in the Touring Car class, for part of the year. She won one round, in Germany. In rallying, she competed in two Norwegian events, coming 19th in the Numedals Rally, in a BMW M3. 2015 saw her back in the European rallycross championship, in the Fiesta. She was eleventh in the championship. In rallying, she did two Norwegian events in the BMW. In 2016, she did a couple of rallies in the BMW, and at least one rallycross meeting, but a lot of her cars seem to have been sold. She rallied the BMW and a Subaru Impreza in 2017, performing best in rallysprints. Her best finish was eleventh in the Gardermosprinten.

Susann Bergvall - Swedish rallycross driver who competed in the 1400cc class of the European Championship in the 1990s. She won the title in 1994, driving a Citroen AX Sport. In 1995, she was fifth, driving two different AX models. After that, she seems to fade from the racing scene, although she is known to have married Kenneth Hansen.

Pernille Brinkmann Larsen - competed in Danish rallycross in a Group N Citroen Saxo in 2018. This appears to have been her first season in the category, although it looks as if she did some folkerace events prior to her rallycross debut. She was eleventh in Group N in her first season, although she did not appear at all of the rounds.

Malin Gjerstad - began her career in Norwegian autocross in 2009, winning three of her events, plus the Ladies’ and Junior title. Driving a SAAB 900, she continued in 2010, venturing over the border into Sweden for their junior rallycross championship, in which she was fifteenth overall. She also continued with autocross, alongside her father Morten. After sitting out most of 2011 due to pregnancy, she returned in 2012, driving an Opel Corsa. Her one points finish in the Norwegian Class 1 championship was a fourth place, at Gardermoen Motorpark. She was twelfth in the 2013 championship, with one third place. She was driving the Corsa. She drove the same car in the 2014 Norwegian championship.

Mathilde Lindrup - Danish driver who races a Honda Civic in her home country. She won the Danish Group N rallycross championship in 2018, with two final wins at Lovel and Ornedalen in the early part of the season. She was fifth in the same class in 2017. Mathilde began racing at fourteen in Folkrace events, using a Peugeot 306. She won the Danish championship for under-16s in 2016. She is from a rallycross family and competes alongside her brother Frederik.

Majbritt Linnemann - Danish rallycross driver who drives a Peugeot 208 or 106 in the Danish Super 1600 championship. She was third in the category in 2018, with a best finish of second at Korskro. During the year, the 106 had to be almost completely rebuilt after an accident, but she was able to resume racing. She started in this car in 2017 with a part-season in the same class, although she raced a 206 for a couple of years previously. Majbritt is from a motorsport family and often competes against her brother Ulrik.

Lise Marie Sandmo - Norwegian driver who won the Norwegian Junior rallycross title in 2012, driving a Honda Civic, at the age of 18. She was the first female driver to do so. She was also fourth in the senior Northern European Zone 1600 rallycross championship, with a best finish of fifth. Her driving career began in 2010, in rallycross, and she was second in her first race. In 2011, she was fifth in the junior series, as well as competing in autocross at Junior level. 2013 saw her win a second Norwegian junior championship, as will as finishing seventh in the Northern Europe Super 1600 championship. Her car was the Civic. In 2014, she entered two rounds of the European Rallycross Championship, driving a VW Polo in the Super 1600 class. She scored one point. She drove the Polo in some rounds of the European S1600 championship again in 2015, but her season was marred by a pitlane accident involving her father. She did at least some NEZ championship races in 2016, but the results are proving elusive.

Fanny Thrygg - Swedish driver who has been driving in rallycross across Europe since at least 2005. 2005 was her first season in the European Championship, and she was 33rd in Division 2, driving a Peugeot 306. She was 32nd the following year, after finishing ninth in France. She did not do as well in 2007 and was only 35th. A string of final finishes pushed her up to 19th in 2008, still in the ageing 306. She was thirteenth in 2009, after three points finishes. As well as the European championship, Fanny also races in Sweden and makes appearances in other European events, although she does not seem to have competed since 2009.

Camilla Traerup - rallycross driver from Denmark. She has been active in the Danish championship since at least 2011 and has been racing for longer, having started in folkerace events in an Opel Astra in 2007. For most of her rallycross career, she has driven a Group N Honda Civic, in which she was second in class in 2017. Her car in 2018 was a Mitsubishi Colt.

(Image copyright Magda Andersson)

Friday, 7 December 2018

Katarina Kyvalova

Katarina Kyvalova is a German-based Slovakian driver most famous for her exploits in historic racing, at the Goodwood Revival and as part of the Bentley Belles team. She took her first steps in modern motorsport in 2018, in the GT4 European Series.

Katarina has been active in historic motorsport since 2000, starting off in rallies in Germany before switching her focus to circuit racing. She still drives in classic navigational rallies on occasion, usually in a Jaguar E-Type.

On track, her first car was an Austin-Healey 3000 which she raced in the UK and Europe. She has competed at Goodwood, the Silverstone Classic and several VSCC meetings.  

In 2015, she raced the Healey in the Le Mans Legend, and was 37th out of 43 finishers.

She is also part of the “Bentley Belles”, a quartet of female historic racers who drive Bentleys. They teamed up for the first time at the 2014 Benjafields 24 Hour race in Portugal, having only met each other in person the day before. The quartet were twelfth overall, in a Bentley 4 ½, having run as high as fifth. The team is involved in various Bentley-related rallies and races, and were third overall in the 2015 Spa 6 Hours historic race. In their individual cars, they raced in the VSCC Pomeroy Trophy in 2015.

Driving with Nigel Batchelor and others, she entered the 2016 Le Mans Classic in two different cars, the Bentley and a Jaguar XK120. She doubled up in these two cars again in the 2018 Classic, driving solo this time.

In 2017, she raced a Jaguar E-Type, and a Cooper T43 in the Freddie March Memorial Trophy at Goodwood. Goodwood has been one of her happiest hunting grounds; she was ninth in the Freddie March Memorial Trophy at the 2018 Revival in the Cooper. Earlier in the year, she raced this car in the Monaco Historic Grand Prix and was 14th from 26 finishers.

Her modern racing debut was at the wheel of a Mercedes AMG GT4. She raced in the GT4 European Series at Spa with Egidio Perfetti and secured a class third in her first event.

(Image copyright Katarina Kyvalova)

Friday, 30 November 2018

Paige Bellerby

Paige Bellerby is a racewinning rallycross driver in the UK at both junior and senior level.

She began racing in the BTRDA Junior Rallycross Championship in the winter of 2009, when she was fourteen. This was not even her first motorsport experience; she had been racing a Junior Special in autograss for two years. She learned to drive at the age of seven in a Nissan Micra.

The 2009 winter season was just practice before tackling the full championship in 2010. She scored one win at Blyton, and four second places. At the end of the season, she won the title, due to her consistent presence in finals.

In 2011, she moved up to the Swift Sport junior rallycross series, and was third overall, with a best finish of third, achieved twice at Mondello Park and Knockhill.

She moved on to senior competition in 2012, in the form of the Swift Sport Cup, which uses a similar Suzuki Swift to the junior class. Her best finish was fourth, at Pembrey, and she was eighth overall.

Her second season in the Swift series ended up being very much a part-season. She only managed to compete in the last round, at Croft, her home circuit, finishing eighth.

After sitting out much of 2014 as well, Paige returned to action at Pembrey, driving a Lotus Exige in the SuperNational class of the British championship. Her best finish in the new car was fifth, in her last race of the season.

In 2015, she raced in the British Supernational championship, in a Lotus Exige. At Croft, the final round, she became the first female driver to win an "A" Final in the class. Her final championship position was third.

The Exige became her regular car and her “A” Final win was far from being a one-off.

In 2016, she won two "A" Finals, at Croft and Mondello Park, on her way to another Supernational third.

She improved this to second in 2017, winning three rounds outright including two at her favoured circuit of Croft, at the beginning and end of the season. The Round One victory was against Ash Simpson, who has won the Supernational title twice.

Her opposition upped their game in 2018 and she did not manage a win that year, but she was still fourth in the championship with three second places, at Lydden and Croft.

Paige is the daughter of multiple rallycross champion Dave Bellerby. Her sister Drew also races in rallycross, as does her cousin Matilda Procter.

(Image copyright Paige Bellerby)

Sunday, 25 November 2018

Dorothy Champney

Dorothy (left) with Kay Petre at Le Mans

Dorothy Champney is most famous for racing at Le Mans in 1934. She and Kay Petre were thirteenth, in a Riley Ulster Imp.

A bout of diphtheria meant that Dorothy missed the 1935 race, but her car was driven by Elsie Wisdom and Kay instead. This seems to mark the end of her short motorsport career.

Dorothy Conyers Nelson Champney was born in Scarborough in 1909. Her first appearance in newspaper coverage of motorsport came in 1932, when she and co-driver Miss GJ Derby crashed their car into a telegraph pole between Honiton and Exeter during the RAC 1000 Miles Rally. Neither the drivers or their un-named female passenger were seriously injured. The car was a Riley, the marque to which she was loyal throughout her career.

Her Le Mans achievements are her most documented, but she was more of a rally driver and actually rarely ventured onto the circuits.

Despite an inauspicious start, she became a fine rally driver. In 1933 she entered the Brooklands, Scottish, Ulster and RAC Rallies in her Riley, coming sixth in Class 3 in the latter. 1933 was a “hat trick” year for her, as she secured Ladies’ Prizes in the RAC, Scottish and Ulster Rallies. Her Scottish win helped Riley to a clean sweep in the Small Car class. Dorothy’s own car then won her a class second in the coachwork competition.

She also won the Coupe des Dames in that year's Alpine Rally, co-driven by a Miss L Hobbs. Using the same car, she competed in a Shelsley Walsh hillclimb, and in the Women's Automobile and Sports Association's Cotswold Trial.

In January 1934 she tackled her second international rally, the Monte Carlo. She made the finish in 58th place, having started at snowy Umea in Sweden. A second run in the Alpine Rally followed in summer, after Le Mans, after her third RAC Rally.

She married Victor Riley, of the Riley car company, in 1934. They had two children, a son and a daughter. Dorothy died a widow in 1968, at the age of 58.

Tuesday, 20 November 2018

Martina Danhelova

Martina (right) with co-driver Karolina Jugasova in 2015)

Martina Daňhelová (also known as Martina Jerhotová-Daňhelová since 2015) is from the Czech Republic and is one of the leading female drivers in Eastern Europe.

She has been rallying since at least 2008. Her first car was a VW Polo, which she used for her first two seasons. She entered two rounds of the 2008 Czech Sprintrally Championship in the Polo and finished both times, then did six more rallysprints in 2009.

In 2010, she started to participate in some longer stage rallies, including the Rallye Český Krumlov. Her first big Czech rally ended in an accident on the eighth stage but she managed to finish four rallysprints.

However, reliability was an issue that year. Engine trouble put her out of her second Czech championship round, the Herkul Rally Pribram. Her next event, the Rally Jeseníky, was done in a Honda Civic, and she was 51st.

The Polo returned to service for much of the 2011 season, in which Martina did her first European Rally Cup event (the Rallye Český Krumlov), and her first rally outside the Czech Republic (the Thüringen Rally, in Germany). She was 38th in both, her best-ever overall finish. Her other events, a mix of rallysprints and Czech championship outings, gave her a few decent class positions.

For the last two Czech Sprintrally events of the season, she switched to Renault Clio, and continued her good class finishes.

The Clio proved the more reliable of her two cars in 2012; the Polo’s gearbox gave way twice and then had another mechanical failure on the Hustopece Rally. Her best finish was 35th, third in class, in the Rally Agropa, in the Clio.

Her biggest rally was the Barum Czech Rally Zlín, part of the IRC. She drove the Civic and was 63rd overall, sixth in class. At the end of the season, she also drove an Alfa Romeo 147 at the Rallyshow Uherský Brod, although the event was cancelled after first stage following a serious accident.

Her cars for 2013 were the Clio, and the 147, which she drove for two different teams. The 147, run by the Rada Martin team, was mainly used for the Sprintrally championship. Her best rallysprint result was 29th with a class win, at the Rally Agropa.

In January she made another foray into the rest of Europe:  the International Jänner Rallye in Austria, driving the Clio. She was 48th overall, third in class. This was one of four European Cup rallies she contested that year, three of which she finished.

Her best result also came from driving the Clio: she was 24th in the Rally Bohemia and won her class. A second attempt at the Barum Czech Rally Zlín gave her 36th, and third in class. She won her class in the Rally Bohemia, driving the Clio for CK Motorsport.

In 2014 she stuck with one car and team, rallying the Clio in the Czech Republic. Her programme included one European outing, the Jänner Rallye, in which she was 40th. She entered two European Trophy rallies in the Czech Republic: a rear axle broke on the Barum event, and she was 21st in the Hustopeče Rally. Her best results came from rallysprints; she won her class in the Czech Sprintrally Championship.

Her car for 2015 was a Clio, and she was second in the ERC Ladies' Cup after a class win and 42nd place in the Jänner Rally in Austria. This class victory her first points finish in the Ladies’ Cup. The rest of the year was spent in the Czech Republic, taking in one further ERC round, the Rallye Český Krumlov in which she was 34th, third in class.

2016 featured a reduced programme for Martina, who drove a Clio in the Krumlov Rally in May, finishing 46th. She became a mother to a daughter that year and took a step back from motorsport. She still retains an interest in rallying as her family compete - her father Vlastimil Daňhel has co-driven for her on occasion - but she is now involved in breeding horses.

(Image from

Thursday, 8 November 2018

Miki Koyama

Mihime “Miki“ Koyama races in Formula 4 in Japan. She was also the 2017 champion in the women-only Kyojo Cup.

Miki was 18 when she first started racing cars, although she raced karts both at home in Japan and abroad from the age of five, between 2003 and 2013. 2015 was her debut season in Formula 4, following a driver training programme. She entered the last four races of the year. Her best finishes were at Motegi, but were only two 26th places.

In 2016, she was set to race full-time in Formula 4, driving for the miNami aoYama Project, but this did not happen, and she only made five appearances from 14 rounds. Her best result was an eleventh place, at Okayama. One of her team-mates was Ayaka Imahashi, another young female driver.

She did a full season of Formula 4 in 2017 but struggled. Her best finish was 18th, at Autopolis. She was unplaced in the championship. Mid-season, she contested the two rounds of the inaugural Kyojo Cup at Fuji, driving a VITA-01 sports prototype. She won both races and was crowned the champion when the third round was abandoned due to a typhoon.

This was not her first experience of sportscar racing; she took part in some rounds of the 2016 Interproto Series, earning one third place. This is a one-make sportscar series like the Kyojo Cup that uses the “Kuruma”, a spec car.

In 2017, she did more one-make racing in the Honda N-One Owners Cup, which uses the N-One supercompact. Miki participated in five races and won two. Staying with Honda, she made a guest appearance in the FIT Challenge Cup, another one-make series.

For Miki, 2018 was split again between Formula 4, the Kyojo Cup and guest spots in Japanese sportscar series. This year, she did her first 24-hour race in June. She was third in the Super Taikyu 24 Hours at Fuji, as part of a six-driver team in a Toyota GT86.

In Formula 4, she drove for the Field Motorsports team and was 15th overall. It was her best season to date and included three top-ten finishes: a seventh and two ninths at Fuji. The series had big entries of more than 20 cars per race.

She won three rounds of the Kyojo Cup and retained her title in 2018, despite having a disaster in the last round and only finishing eighth.

(Image from