Monday, 9 July 2018

Milla Mäkelä

Milla Mäkelä is a Finnish driver who has spent most of her career racing for Mtec in Formula Ford.

She has been active in motorsport since 2009, when she was 16. She always races for her family’s Mäkelä Racing team. The team builds the Mtec Formula Ford chassis for a number of teams in Scandinavia.

Her first races were in the Finnish Formula Ford Zetec championship, although right away, she took part in two Northern European Formula Ford races as well, in neighbouring Sweden. This would be her standard season pattern for most of the next couple of seasons.

In 2010, she was on the pace in the Finnish Formula Ford Junior Championship, and finished the season in tenth. Her brother and team-mate, Miikka, had use of the 2010 Mtec chassis for part of the season and was third. Milla used the ‘09 car. Again, she guested in the NEZ championship, for two races.

In 2011, she concentrated solely on the Finnish championship and recorded a tenth place. She was still using the ‘09 car.  

The following year, she scored her first podium finish, a third at Alastro, and was fifth overall, one behind her brother Miikka. Milla achieved another two top-five positions, at Alastro and Ahvenisto. She was finally driving the ‘10 Mtec and feeling the benefit.

Mid-season, she raced at the NEZ meeting at Karlskoga, and finished two out of three races, in twelfth and fourteenth.

In 2013, she was ninth again in the Finnish championship. However, her three Swedish races in the NEZ series were enough to give her ninth in that championship, her best yet. She was driving the ‘12 Mtec car.

She raced again in the Finnish series in 2014, and was normally a midfield finisher. She scored another podium finish, a third at Alastaro, and was fourth in the championship.

In 2015, she made the jump from midfielder to leading driver in Finnish Formula Ford, despite missing some of the races. She scored three second places, and one third, and was fifth in the championship. For the second part of the year, she also raced in Danish Formula Ford and earned one sixth place, at Spa.

Another Finnish FF season in 2016 was rather patchy, although she did earn herself two third places at Kemora.

In 2017, she switched to saloon racing, in the BMW Xtreme Cup. This ended up only being a part-season, and she was 17th overall. Her best race result was fifth at Ahvenisto.

She stayed involved with Formula Ford through the championship’s shorter Formula SM series, run over three rounds. She scored a third place at Alastaro, despite brake problems. Mäkelä Racing ran two BMWs for two two-driver teams.

In 2018, she remained involved in the Mäkelä Racing team, but does not appear to be competing regularly.

(Image copyright Milla Mäkelä)

Wednesday, 4 July 2018

Marketta Oksala

Marketta Oksala is three-times Finnish Ladies' Champion, winning her titles in 1975, 1976 and 1977.

She was a six-times entrant of Rally Finland, with a best result of 22nd, in 1976. Her car was a Lada 1300.

Her best result in all of her eight WRC outings was 17th, in the 1977 Monte Carlo Rally, in an Alpine-Renault A310. She was competing as part of the all-female Team Aseptogyl, alongside Christine Dacremont and Colette Galli in a Lancia Stratos. Marketta was partnered by the experienced Yvonne Pratt (Mehta), rather than her usual navigator Pirjo Pynnä.

1974 seems to have been her first season of international rallying. She was 28 years old at the time. Earlier, she raced a Ford Capri on the circuits in Finland, as part of the Teboil junior team. One of her team-mates in the Finnish state oil company’s squad was Ari Vatanen.

She did one season in the Finnish rally championship in 1973, driving an Opel Ascona. She scored two top-twenty finishes in the Helsinki Rally and the Pohjola Rally. Her first 1000 Lakes ended in a 24th place.

Her first overseas rally was the 1974 RAC Rally. She drove a Hillman Avenger but did not finish. This came after a second season in the Finnish championship, driving a range of cars: Fiat 124, Alfa Romeo Alfetta and Opel Kadett. She only managed one finish, a 31st place in the Kalakukkoralli.

The Avenger became her favoured car for 1975. She won the first of her Finnish ladies’ titles with three Coupes des Dames, including one on her third 1000 Lakes Rally (she was 36th overall). Her best result was a 16th place in the Hankiralli. Away from Finland, she competed in one ice rally in Sweden, the Polar Bergslagsrallyt.

Her second Finnish ladies’ title came at the wheel of a somewhat unlikely car: a Lada 1300. This rather underpowered car nevertheless gave her her best-ever 1000 Lakes finish. She was the third Lada driver to finish and the second of the 1300cc cars. Her 21st place was the best overall result she had all season.

She also put together a string of six ladies’ awards and finished top of the women’s leaderboard, 20 points ahead of her nearest rival, Marja-Liisa Korpi.  

1977 was an inconsistent year for Marketta. She began the year with her Monte Carlo  adventure as part of Team Aseptogyl, which was a one-off drive. She then switched to a Ford Escort Mexico and then an Escort 2000 for Finnish rallies. She was the top lady on both the Hanki and Mantta events, but was not quite as high up the overall leaderboard as she could be. A switch to an Opel Kadett led to another top-twenty finish on the Itaralli in June. She was 19th.

Although she won more ladies’ awards, her overall finishes in the Kadett were indifferent and she retired from the 1000 Lakes and Nokia rallies. In November, she accepted another international guest drive in the Tour de Corse, in a Toyota Celica, but she did not finish.

Team Aseptogyl called for her services again for the 1978 Monte. This time, they were running diesel-powered Citroen 2500 CXs. Neither Marketta nor her team-mates Marianne Hoepfner and Christine Dacremont finished.

1978 was a short season, and her last one on the stages. The Nortti team ran her Kadett for the Hankiralli, then she drove a Mercedes 300 D for her final attempt at the 1000 Lakes. The Mercedes was another diesel car. She won the diesel class from Hans Sevelius’s VW Golf and was 36th overall.

After her retirement, she retained her interest in rallying and was a regular spectator at the 1000 Lakes.

Wednesday, 27 June 2018

Chantal Kroll

Chantal Kroll is a Swiss driver who competes mainly in the Creventic 24H Series with her family team, currently known as Hofor Racing. She was one of the championship’s class driver champions in 2016 and 2017.

The Hofor team consists of Chantal, her father Michael and her uncle Martin Kroll, with various other guest drivers. Michael founded the team in 2004 and Chantal joined at the end of 2005, racing a Porsche 964.

In 2012, she drove in the 24-hour races in Dubai and at the Nürburgring, in a BMW M3 E46. She and her team-mates won their class at the Dubai race. The team consisted of the three Kroll drivers, Raffi Bader and team owner, Bernd Küpper. The car ran under the Hofor Racing banner for the Nürburgring race; the Krolls were joined by Roland Eggimann this time. Hofor fielded two cars. Chantal’s did not finish, failing in the last two hours.

In 2013, she was third in class in the Barcelona 24 Hours, in the BMW. The Hofor and Küpper teams joined forces, with Chantal and Martin making up the Kroll contingent. The other drivers were Bernd Küpper and Richard Feller. They were 20th overall. This followed a joint Hofor-Küpper run in the Dubai 24 Hours, which led to a class win and 35th place.

She also drove in the Nürburgring 24 Hours. There were two Hofor BMWs entered and she drove in both of them, finishing fourth and fifth in class SP6 and 80th and 87th overall.

In 2014, she entered the Zolder 24 Hours for the first time, and was third overall in a Porsche 997. This was her best-ever finish. The Porsche was run by Belgium Racing. Chantal and Michael joined three other Belgian drivers.

She also drove in the Nürburgring and Dubai races in BMWs. At the Nürburgring, she and her team drove in two separate cars again, finishing in both. Hofor Racing’s second car, a BMW CSL, was 50th, defeating Hofor 1, a GTR, which was 72nd. In Dubai in January, there was just one Hofor-Küpper car, featuring Chantal, which finished 54th.

In 2015, she was once more active in the 24-Hour Series, winning the Ladies' Cup comfortably. She also scored class wins in the Dubai, Mugello and Paul Ricard races, doubling up for Hofor-Küpper in the BMW and a Mercedes SLS AMG. Overall, the BMW was the more successful car, with the Paul Ricard class win and three second places at Zandvoort, Catalunya and Brno. The team was third overall in class A5.There was also a class win at Dubai, running in a different group. The Mercedes scored a class win at Mugello.

Despite only winning their class in one race in 2016, Chantal's team were the overall winners of the 24 Hour Series for class A6, after several podiums. This time it was the Mercedes that was the more competitive of the two Hofor cars. Chantal did not drive in the BMW that year.

Their class win came right at the start of the season, in Dubai. It was another personal best for Chantal: a fourth place. She was also second at Mugello and Brno, and third at Zandvoort and Paul Ricard.

A four-driver Hofor team, including Chantal, was second in class in the Nürburgring 24 Hours, driving a BMW M3 CSL. They were 51st overall.

The Hofor Mercedes team defended their title in 2017, despite only managing one class win again. Their best was a third overall at the Portimao circuit, where they won the A6-Am class and were third overall in A6. The team was seventh in Dubai, fifth at Mugello and fourth at the Red Bull Ring. Chantal was once more the ladies’ champion

Chantal’s 2018 season started disappointingly, with a retirement for the Mercedes in the Dubai 24 Hours. The car was taken out by another Mercedes and badly damaged. Later, she and her team-mates were seventh at Navarra, then third in class at the Nürburgring 24 Hours, this time driving a BMW M3.

(Image copyright Chantal Kroll/Hofor Racing)

Monday, 18 June 2018

Women in Indy Lights

Sarah McCune in 2004, during a test for Kathryn Nunn Racing

Indy Lights is the second-tier racing series of the Indycar ladder. Over the years, it has had several changes of name and been run by CART, Indycar and the IRL. The basic formula of a one-model junior championship has remained roughly the same, however.

Until recently, Indycar was not a particularly welcoming place for female drivers. Indy Lights has had correspondingly few women entrants. A higher number were involved with the Toyota Atlantic series, a similar championship in the USA.

1986 (CART American Racing Series)
Desire Wilson (driver) - 24th

No female entrants

Cathy Muller (McNeill Motorsports) - 26th

Cathy Muller (McNeill Motorsports/Stuart Moore Racing) - 16th
Cheryl Glass (Glass Racing) -22nd

1991 (CART Firestone/PPG/Dayton Indy Lights Series)
Desire Wilson (Leading Edge Motorsport) - 24th
Cheryl Glass (Glass Racing) - unplaced

Kat Teasdale (Leading Edge Motorsport) - unplaced

No female entrants

2005 (IRL Infiniti Pro Series)
Mishael Abbott (Hemelgarn) - 13th
Sarah McCune (Sam Schmidt Motorsports) - 23rd

2006 (IRL Indy Pro Series)
Mishael Abbott (Michael Crawford Motorsports) - 26th
Veronica McCann (United & Classic Trailers) - 37th

Leilani Munter (Sam Schmidt Motorsports) - 33rd

2008 (Indycar Indy Lights)
Bia Figueiredo (Sam Schmidt Motorsports) - 3rd
Cyndie Allemann (American Spirit Racing) - 14th
Christina Orr-West (Alliance Motorsports) - 30th

Bia Figueiredo (Sam Schmidt Motorsports) - 8th
Pippa Mann (Panther Racing) - 14th

Pippa Mann (Sam Schmidt Motorsports) - 5th
Carmen Jorda (Andersen Racing) - 16th

No female entrants

(Image copyright Gregg Ellmann/

Wednesday, 13 June 2018

Emma Kimilainen

Emma Kimilainen (Liuski) is single-seater and touring car driver from Finland.

The early part of her career was spent in single-seaters, after beginning karting at the age of three. She first raced cars in 2005, in Finnish Formula Ford, coming second overall and winning a string of rookie awards.

As well as the Finnish title, she was also fifth in the Northern Europe Formula Ford Championship, and did some races in the Swedish series.

She missed out on a Finnish Formula Ford title in 2006, finishing second again, and it was an even more close-fought thing in the NEZ series. Emma was tied for points with Sami Isohella of Finland at the end of the season, but he edged her out with five wins to her four.

In 2007, she switched to sportscars and was consistently in the top three in Swedish Formula Radical. Her three wins were enough to cement her third place in the championship, as well as a runner-up spot in the National class. She was supported by Swedish ex-Formula 1 driver Stefan Johansson.

She competed in German Formula ADAC in 2008, after undertaking a DTM test during the off-season for Audi. The German marque supported her in this after she was unable to get a DTM race seat.

Her overall result was tenth, with a single podium finish: a second place at Assen. Most of her finishes were in the top ten and she out-performed her Van Amersfoort Racing team-mate, Marcus Eriksson. Daniel Abt was another of her rivals.

In 2009, she travelled to the UK to race in Formula Palmer Audi, after a successful test. She was the series' fastest female driver, with two seconds and two thirds, and a fifth place overall. This came after a difficult start at Brands Hatch, the only time she finished out of the top ten. She was racing against Felix Rosenqvist, Josef Newgarden and Maria de Villota.   

She was set to return in 2010, but does not appear to have raced, although she did test for the Charouz AutoGP team.

She was not involved with motorsport for a long time after that. Partly this was due to the ever-present sponsorship problem, but she used her time away to finish her education, get married and become a mother. The result was a degree in chemistry and two daughters. She was also briefly involved in politics in Finland.

She came back to motorsport in 2014, driving a Saab 9-3 in the Scandinavian Touring Car Championship. She had an eventful season, crashing into Prince Carl Philip of Sweden in her first race, at Knutstorp, then crashing again, at Göteborg. One high point was a second place at Falkenberg, and she did manage some other top tens. She was eleventh overall, admitting herself that she was out of practice.

A second season in Scandinavian Touring Cars ran more smoothly, with a more consistent Emma finishing seventh overall. Her best finish was third, achieved at Mantorp Park and Anderstorp. She earned four more top-five positions and only had one DNF all season.

She raced a SEAT Leon in the 2016 STCC, but unreliability problems struck. Her best finish was a sixth place at Anderstorp. After the tenth race, she left the championship abruptly due to issues out of her control, leaving her in eleventh place. She had already missed another round earlier in the season.

For 2017, she announced that she would be taking part in a new electric racing initiative, Electric GT: this did not come together in time.

Instead, she drove a thirsty Ford Mustang in Thundercars, in Sweden and Finland. She won two of her six races in Finland, and finished the rest on the podium. She earned one podium in the Swedish series; a second at Ahvenisto.

Emma is set to race a Tesla P1000D in Electric GTs from late 2018.

(Image copyright Yle/Mikael Oivo)

Friday, 8 June 2018

Anne Wong

Anne Wong is a Singaporean driver best known as the winner of the 1970 Macau Grand Prix race, in a Mini.

Born in 1949, she was quite well-travelled as a teenager, moving between Singapore and Malaysia. Both her father and uncle were involved in the local motorsport scene and Anne picked up an enthusiasm for cars. She had learned to drive at the age of twelve and passed her test at sixteen.

In the late 1960s she was living in the UK and attending college. She enrolled in the Motor Racing Stables driving school at Brands Hatch, but did not finish the course. It was only when she returned to Singapore and watched a friend racing a car that her father had prepared that she made her real start in motorsport. The car was a Hillman Imp; she planned to try racing it herself but did not make any starts in it.

Her first big race was in 1970, although she may have taken part in some club rallies or autotests earlier. She entered the Singapore Grand Prix, then held on a 4.8km street circuit. Her car was a Mini Cooper, which unfortunately did not last the distance.

A few weeks later, she raced in Malaysia for the first time. She took the Mini to the Batu Tiga track at Shah Alam and finished third in a race there. In April, she won the under-1000cc class at the Selangor Grand Prix.

At the end of the year, she entered the same car into the Macau Grand Prix, in the touring car race. She started from last on the 30-car grid, having only just qualified. There was an additional worry about an attack of german measles that almost kept her from the track.

Anne steadily progressed up the grid and took the lead after Johnny Leffler’s Ford Escort suffered a broken differential and Dieter Quester’s works BMW lost its gears.

Her Macau win led to offers of drives all over the Asia-Pacific region. In June 1971, she raced at Wanneroo Park in Australia, sharing a Mini with Australian driver Ric Lisle in a six-hour enduro. They were leading their class when a piston cracked after an hour and a half.

Shortly after that, she was set to travel to Manila for the Philippines Grand Prix. She did not make the start for reasons unknown, but she did predict that the race would be won by a Mini Cooper S in the Straits Times newspaper. She had already declined an entry in the BP Rally in order to concentrate on the Philippines race.

The invitation to race in Australia came while she was driving in another rally, the Rothmans event, in Hong Kong. For a change, she was driving a Simca 1200 offered by National Motors of Hong Kong. She did not finish after an off into some water.

Her second attempt at the Singapore Grand Prix was more fruitful. She was seventh overall in the Mini from 26 starters, and her top ten was in spite a lengthy pitstop to deal with a loose exhaust.

She tried again in at Macau too, and was seventh, in the Mini. This was one of her first events with her new sponsorship from Malaysia Singapore Airlines (MSA). By now, she was a popular media figure; this was helped by her sideline as a motoring journalist for the Straits Times and other papers.

Announcements at the start of 1972 proclaimed that Anne would be taking part in fifteen events, including some of the saloon rounds of the Tasman Series in Australia. Her first event was the Manila Grand Prix. She was billed as racing against 173 men, but the results are proving hard to find. She may also have taken part in another Singapore Grand Prix.

In April, she did her first race in Indonesia, when she entered the Penang Grand Prix. Later in the year, she won the saloon race at the Indonesian Grand Prix, held at Antjol. She started from third and defeated eleven other drivers.

Her third Macau Grand Prix ended in disaster. She had qualified fifth on the grid but had to retire on the first lap due to a fire in her Mini. It turned out to be an electrical short-circuit.

By this time, she was having trouble with sponsorship. MSA had become Singapore International Airways and they dragged their feet providing the funding for the Macau race. In early 1973, she pulled out of the Singapore Grand Prix, having sold her Mini. She said in the Straits Times that it was “not economical for a private entry to try and compete against factory teams.”

She did race at the Malaysian Grand Prix in a V8 Ford Fairmont, but she found it too wide for the narrow circuit. Her own write-up of the event suggested that she had won, but in fact she had been black-flagged. She later apologised in print.

In May, she was entered in to the Penang Grand Prix in an Alfa Romeo Berlina, but it is not clear whether she actually started the race.

She retired from the circuits in 1974 and continued to work as a journalist, as well as an advertising executive. In June, she made her debut as a jockey, winning a pro-am ladies’ race at Bukit Timah.

In 1979 she was the official starter for the Malaysian Grand Prix. She was not quite able to get her need for speed out of her system and reappeared in the Singapore press in 1984, this time racing powerboats. Six years later, in 1990, she entered the Rally of Singapore for the first time in almost twenty years.

She continued to work in advertising. Later, she married.

(Image copyright Straits Times)

Tuesday, 29 May 2018

Laura Kraihamer

Laura Kraihamer is an Austrian driver who races a KTM X-Bow around Europe.

Her first season was 2012, and she was twelfth in the Rookie standings of the KTM X-Bow Battle series, with best finishes of sixth place. This is a one-make championship for KTM’s lightweight sportscar.

Despite running a full season in 2013, and maintaining her best finish, she was only 23rd in the X-Bow Battle.

In 2014, she was a much improved driver. She was second in the Sprint standings of the championship, with one win and four second places. Driving with Uwe Schmidt, she won the Endurance class of the X-Bow championship.

This year, she started to explore her options and tested cars for the FIA GT3 series and the VLN. She drove a BMW Z4 at the Nordschleife but it would not be for a couple of years that she actually competed there.

In 2015, she was part of a televised challenge, the "Race to 24", for drivers competing for a race seat in the Le Mans 24 Hours in 2016. Twenty-four aspiring racers took part. This was in addition to another season in the X-Bow; she was seventh in the Battle series and second in the Endurance championship, with Uwe Schmidt. They were racing as “Team Eat The Ball”.

2016 was another year with KTM, but in the European GT4 Championship. She was eighteenth in the Pro class, after a string of lower top-ten finishes. Her team-mate was Jamie Vandenbalck. She was racing for the Reiter Engineering team and they also entered her in three rounds of the X-Bow Battle series. She was second once and third once and was the best of six Reiter drivers.

She had another season in the European GT4 championship in 2017, driving the X-Bow for the Reiter team. Her car was the best-performing Reiter entry, with third places at the Red Bull Ring and the Nürburgring. She was thirteenth in the championship.

She was also thirteenth in the X-Bow Battle series. She helped her team to seventh in the Team standings.

In 2018, she is contesting another European GT4 Championship with Team True, another KTM/Reiter-affiliated team. She is sharing her car with Reinhard Kofler. At the time of writing, she has secured one eighth place, at Zolder. She was 30th and 26th at Brands Hatch and did not finish the first Zolder race.

Team True also entered a car in the 2018 Nürburgring 24 Hours. Laura was part of an all-female team in an X-Bow, with Naomi Schiff, Rahel Frey and Lena Strycek. They finished in 39th place, second in the Cup X class.

Laura is from a motorsport family; her brother Dominik also races sportscars.

She has an official FIA ranking of Silver.

(Image copyright