Monday, 1 March 2010

Christine Driano

Christine (right) and Guylaine Juillot

Frenchwoman Christine had been rallying for three years when she got her big break in 1984. Citroen France had organised a challenge to find a new female works driver, and Christine was one of the winners, alongside Sylvie Seignobeaux, having impressed the judges with her abilities and finished second in the championship. In 1985, she took up her Citroen prize drive, and competed in a full French Championship programme.

After a couple of years of rallying the Citroen AX Sport, first in France, then in Spain also, Christine hit a good run of form and won the French Class A Championship in 1988. This was a feat she repeated in 1989 and 1990, and soon the bigger stage was beckoning. Her first World Championship rally was the Tour de Corse in 1990, co-driven by Marie-Christine Lallement. The AX failed to finish.

At the same time, the French championship had not been forgotten. In 1989, driving the Citroen, Christine was twelfth in the Rallye des Garrigues Languedoc-Roussillon. In 1990, she was seventh in the Rallye Antibes-Rallye d'Azur.

1991 saw her move away from Citroen. She drove an Alfa Romeo 75 Turbo on the Tour de Corse, supported by Alfa Romeo France, but did not finish.

1992 saw two WRC outings for Christine, co-driven by Cathy Francois this time and back in the Citroen. Driving for a private team, the two women were fourteenth in Corsica and won Class A5. Despite having works support for the Catalunya Rally, they were only second in class there, although still a good 16th overall. Driving an AX, the new pairing were sixth in the Rallye des Garrigues and twelfth in the Rallye d'Antibes.

A more ambitious Christine entered seven WRC rounds in 1993, as a works Citroen driver. She started well in the Monte Carlo Rally, coming thirteenth in the larger-engined AX GTI, third in Class A7. Thirteen was her lucky number that season as her second rally of the year, Portugal, gave her another thirteenth place. She was back in the AX Sport and came second in Class A5. Her home rally, Corsica, was a disappointment, as she and Guylaine Juillot retired, and the Acropolis ended in another non-finish. Things picked up in the tough Argentinian mountains with a 21st place, but she could not quite maintain the momentum for New Zealand and San Remo, where she and Marie-Christine were 44th and 26th respectively. Still, her early-season performances were enough to secure her the WRC Ladies' Cup. This was not well-received by some of the other female competitors. They believed that she had been awarded the cup for entering more rallies than other women who had scored better individual results, and she was labelled a "pot hunter" by some. I think this is a trifle unfair, as she started the season very well and managed some creditable overall finishes.

She also competed in French rallies in a Lancia that year.

After a considerable lay-off, Christine returned to the stages in 1997, driving the Citroen Saxo Kit Car which would later become the car to beat in the Super 1600 class. She was fourteenth in the Rallye Internationale du Var, with Karine Tabone.

Her rally career seems to end there. As well as taking on the stages, Christine also took part in ice-racing in France, as part of the high profile Andros Trophy series. In 2009, she made a guest appearance in two races of the French Super Production Championship, driving a Peugeot 306. She won one race from pole.

Since then, she has kept a low profile.

(Image from a Citroen promotional card)

No comments:

Post a Comment