Saturday, 31 July 2010

Paulien Zwart

Paulien in the Lotus Ladies Cup garage

Born in 1978, Paulien is the daughter of historic Formula One racer, and Ascari sportscar team boss, Klaas Zwart. Although she is Dutch by birth, she spent her formative racing years in Scotland, as a karter and novice single-seater driver. She was fifth overall in the Scottish Kart championships in 1994, and came third in the Jim Russell Racing School championships in 1995, her first year of car racing.

A lengthy hiatus from the track followed while the young Paulien concentrated on other areas of her life, but she was back in 2000, and enrolled in the Renaultsport racing school to get back up to speed. She was fourth in its end-of-term championship. With more experience under her belt, she entered some Dutch Citroen Saxo Cup races as well.

In 2001, Paulien entered three different one-make touring series, with varying degrees of success. She took part in three Dutch SEAT Ibiza Enduro Cup events without great results, but in the Dutch Clio Cup she secured her first podium. She described the Renault Clio as her favourite ever racing car to date and used one to contest two rounds of the Dutch Supercar Challenge that season too. However, her main focus for the year was the Toyota Yaris Cup, in which she came an excellent fourth overall.

2002 was even better. After being at the head of the Yaris standings for part of the season, Paulien was third overall in the championship. More outings in the Clio netted her two podium positions in the Supercar Challenge, and she earned her first major wins: two first-place finishes in the Dutch Winter Endurance Cup in a Renault Megane. This was good for third in the championship. For a change, she raced a Radical sportscar as well, and was linked with a Le Mans drive in her father's Ascari squad alongside Vanina Ickx, which never happened.

After competing in the British Formula Ford Winter Series in the off-season, it was back to business in 2003. Paulien's main drive of the year was the Alfa Romeo 147 Challenge one-make series. Unfortunately, it took a while for her to even record a finish, following a series of accidents and mechanical gremlins. At the end of the season she had recorded some good finishes in the Olympic class, but it was not one of her more polished performances. Two races in the Yaris Cup World Series yielded an eleventh and ninth position, and she also ran a few races of the Dutch BMW Compact Cup.

Despite 2003 not being a vintage season, she gathered enough support and funding to run in the European Touring Car Championship in 2004. She was driving for the Carly BMW team, and although she had yet to match the performances of team-mate (and boyfriend) Tom Coronel, she was learning the car and making progress when disaster struck. A high-speed testing crash at Magny-Cours for Carly left her with a broken pelvis and ankle. Her place in the team for the next meeting was taken by her father.

Paulien's injuries were severe, but she recovered in time for the start of the 2005 racing calendar.

She paired up with Renate Sanders to contest the SEAT Cupra Cup in the Netherlands. They scored a number of fine top-ten finishes, although Paulien was not always able to match the pace of her experienced team-mate in the single-driver sprint races.

After a good recovery year, Paulien took another break in 2006, as she was pregnant. She returned in 2007, to the SEAT Cupra championship. Her team-mates was Jeroen den Boer and Daan Stots, and they were racing in the Dutch Army’s promotional car. They managed to finish in the top ten on several occasions, but did not challenge for overall honours. They lagged far behind their sister car, driven by Sandra van der Sloot and Sheila Verschuur. At the end of the season, Paulien also enlisted in the Dutch Winter Endurance Championship. Results for this series have proved hard to track down.

The 2008 main season was spent in the Dutch Diesel Touring Car series. Paulien was driving for her partner’s racing operation, with Gaby Uljee, who is the partner of Tom Coronel’s twin brother, Tim. They competed as the Coronel Ladies, and their car was a BMW 120d. They finished the season third in the championship, after a string of solid top-ten finishes.

During the off-season, Paulien entered the Winter Endurance Championship once more. She returned to the Diesel Cup in 2009, still driving for the Coronel team in the BMW, but with Ruben van Doorn. She improved on her 2008 performances and recorded her first win in the series at Zandvoort, in the Pinksterraces endurance event. As well as her win, she scored four more podium places, and was ninth in the championship.

She did not race in 2010, due to her pregnancy with her second child. However, she returned to the scene in 2011, and to the Diesel Cup. She was driving a BMW 123d for Equipe Verschuur, with Liesette Braams as her team-mate. She was fourteenth in the championship, with a best finish of third at Zandvoort. She also drove in the Barcelona 24 Hours in the same car, but did not finish.

In 2012, Paulien became a Dutch "Racing Diva", as part of a team with Gaby Uljee, Sandra van der Sloot, and Liesette Braams. Their first event together was the Dubai 24 Hours, in a Renault Clio. They were 39th. Paulien and Liesette also intended some rounds of the Diesel Cup again in the BMW, but they did not have enough funding. Paulien competed in the Salzburg round of the Lotus Ladies Cup in Salzburg, which supported the WTCC race. She was fifth in both races.

Paulien continued as a Racing Diva in 2013, although the team's schedule was seriously cut short by a lack of funding. Her only real competitive outing was the Dubai 24 Hours, driving a Schubert BMW 320D with Liesette Braams, Sandra van der Sloot, Gaby Uljee and Sheila Verschuur. They were 26th overall, with a class win. They also took part in the Rotterdam Street Races, but that event is only a sprint.

She continued to race with the Divas in 2014, hoping for an increased schedule, but their season was again restricted to the Dubai 24 Hours. Driving the same car as in 2013, with Sandra, Gaby, Shirley van der Lof and Natasja Smit Sø. They won their class again, and were 31st overall. The Divas appeared together at the Zandvoort Easter meeting for promotional and charity activities, but did not race. 

She did not join the Divas for the 2015 Dubai race, but she did go to the event to support them, and Tom Coronel.

(Image from

No comments:

Post a Comment