Thursday, 26 August 2010

The Andros Trophée Féminin - "Ice Girls"

The ladies’ category of the Andros Trophy ice-racing championship began in the 2001-2002 season. Subtitled “Ice Girls”, it was constituted of women who had answered advertisements in the French press and online, looking for aspiring female racing drivers. The successful recruits were from a number of backgrounds, from models and TV presenters to some who had a little motorsport experience already.

The Trophée used the same 600cc buggies as the Sprint Car class. Each “Ice Girl” was paired with a more experienced male “professional”, who acted as both her team-mate and mentor. The field of competitors was large and the driving standards were variable, but competition was fierce. The first champion in 2002 was Justine Monnier, who went on to considerable success in the Promotion and Elite classes.

The Trophée was dropped before the 2009-2010 season, although many Ice Girl alumni continued to compete in the main championship.

In 2014-2015, the womens' series was revived, now simply called the "Trophée Féminin". About twelve regular drivers, plus guests, raced Sprintcar buggies in the usual Andros heats/finals format. The male "professionals" were not used. A good proportion of the field came from the French womens' autocross championship (Sprint Girls), including the winner, Marine Mercier. The Trophée was not run again for the 2016-17 season.

The list of winners is as follows:

2003 ?
2004 Aurelia Marti
2005 Margot Laffite
2006 Marlène Broggi
2007 Audrey Roche
2008 Anne-Sophie Lemonnier
2009 Marie-Pierre Cripia (“Mlle Josiane”, a radio personality)
2015 Marine Mercier
2016 Clémentine Lhoste

At first, the competition was limited to those with no ice-racing experience, but this rule seems to have been relaxed, as several drivers have had multiple seasons in the series. Many of the “Ice Girls” have made appearances in the main draw of the championship, and some, such as Justine Monnier and Margot Laffite, have been successful.

Below are some of the drivers who competed as “Ice Girls”, or in the main Andros Trophy.
Marlène Broggi has her own profile here.
Margot Laffite has her own profile here.

Berenice Demoustier - drove in the Promotion and Elite classes of the Andros Trophy in the 2008-2009 season. Her car was a Renault Clio and her team-mate was Marlene Broggi. She reached at least one Elite final at Super-Besse and was third in the main Ladies’ standings. Her best overall finish was 18th at Lans en Vercors. She was 21st overall in the championship. She returned to Andros in 2009-2010, driving a Toyota Auris in the Elite class with Bertrand Balas. She was eighteenth overall. Driving for the same team, she was 19th in 2010-2011, and 25th in 2011-2012. In 2014, she won the Ladies' title again, and was 16th in the main Trophy, running in the Invitation class. She was driving a Mazda3, for the works Mazda team, sharing the car with Olivier Panis. The following season, she drove for the Sport Garage Sodema team with Franck Lagorce. Her car was a Dacia Lodgy. She won one race, at Val Thorens, and was fourth in the championship. After the 2015-2016 Trophy, she was tenth, behind her old rivals, Marlène Broggi and Margot Laffite. Driving an Audi A1 Quattro, she had a best finish of sixth, in the final round at St-Die. As well as this, she helped BAC Team WRT to the Team award. The team retained her for the 2016-17 season, and she was eighth this time. Her best finish, a third place, came at Alpe d'Huez. This helped Team WRT to the team prize. Her career in ice-racing began in the Trophée Féminin, in which she was third in 2008.

Eve-Marie Dyon - competitor in the Andros Trophy, in both the Féminin and Open classes. She drove in the Trophée Féminin in the 2004-2005 and 2005-2006 seasons, and although she was always near the front, she did not win the title. Her best result was third, in 2006. She returned to mixed Andros Trophy competition in 2007 and 2008. Her first mixed season was in the Promotion class. In 2008, she drove a Fiat Stilo for the Racing Passion team in the Elite class, and was 29th in the championship. Her best race result was third in Andorra. As well as ice-racing, Eve has driven in the Fun Cup, Formula Renault, Caterhams and Legends during the summer season.

Emilie Faure - entered the Andros Trophy during the 2015-2016 season, driving in the Elite Pro class. Her car was a Renault Clio. Despite being registered for the championship, she only competed in a couple of rounds, the best of these being an eleventh place at Alpe d'Huez. Previously, she has been active in rallying, seemingly as a co-driver, and she may also have competed in autocross or kart-cross.

Elodie Gossuin - former beauty queen who has been competing the Andros Trophy since 2006, after two years of being one of the championship’s female “faces”. She spent one year in the Trophée Féminin, before moving to the Electric car class. For the 2005-06 season, she was 59th in the main championship. In 2009/10, she was eighth in the Trophée Electrique, and in 2010-11, she was fourteenth. 

Anne-Sophie Lemonnier (Le Ganay) - French exponent of both rallycross and ice racing. She started in rallycross. Her first championship was a ladies’ Citroen Saxo series in 2003. After that, she raced a series of Citroen C2 models. From 2004 to 2006 she was part of the Challenge Citroen C2. In 2007, she moved up to Division 4 of the French championship. Her car was not as competitive as those of the S1600 drivers in the series. Since then, she has moved through the divisions, and in 2010, she raced a Citroen Saxo kit car in Division 1A. In 2011, she was 18th in the Super 1600 championship, driving the same car. She did not compete in the championship in 2012. On the ice-racing side, she won the Andros Trophée Féminin in early 2008 and 2010. She has competed mostly in the Elite class since 2009. In 2014, she was 18th in the Promotion class, driving a BMW 1-Series. The car was shared with her father, Hervé Knapick, and run by their family team. Anne-Sophie reappeared in 2015 as team-mate to her father for the Alpe d'Huez round, driving a Renault Clio.

Marie-Laure Lemonnier (Peu) - the elder sister of Anne-Sophie Lemonnier. Her career path is virtually identical to that of her sister and they started competing at the same time, in 2003. In 2010, her car was a Citroen C2, and she raced in Division 1A of the French championship. For most of their time on the track, neither sister consistently out-scores the other, except in ice-racing. Marie-Laure was the runner-up in the 2008 Andros Trophée Féminin. She seems to have not raced much after 2010, although she has done quite a lot of rally navigation, for her father, Hervé Knapick, and Xavier Lemonnier (a brother?), with at least one win.

Clémentine Lhoste - winner of the ladies' trophy in 2015-2016. After a slow start to the season, she became a dominant force, winning six Superfinals and finishing fifty points ahead of her nearest rival, Aurore Louison. This was her first full season of ice racing, although she had taken part in some Trophée Féminin races the previous year. At sixteen, she was the youngest driver to race in the Andros Trophy. She was supported in her early racing attempts by Dominique Dubourg. Her second Andros Trophy was contested in the Electric car class, with the Loxam team. She was seventh, with a best finish of fifth at Alpe d'Huez. Another season in the Electric class followed at the end of 2017. She was sixth overall after a consistent set of races.

Aurelia Marti - winner of the Andros Trophée Féminin in 2004. After that, she returned to the Andros Trophy’s main competition, first in a Vauxhall Tigra. She was 24th overall after some runs in finals. In 2005-2006, she was 25th, driving an Astra. In the 2006-2007 season, she remained with the Astra, and was 24th again, this time in the Elite class. She improved the next year and was 16th in a BMW 1-Series, and in 2008-2009, driving the same car, she was the best female driver in the Trophy, finishing thirteenth overall. Her best result was fourth, at Alpe d’Huez. As well as ice-racing, she competes on the French circuits, during the main season. In 2007, she raced in the Renault Clio Cup, and in 2008, the Peugeot Spider Cup. She returned to the Clio Cup for two races in 2009, but does not seem to have raced since then. She comes from Andorra.

Marine Mercier – winner of the Andros Trophée Féminin in 2015, driving a buggy. This was not her first Andros experience; in 2010, she was part of the Andros Academy, aged 16. Most of her motorsport experience comes from autocross in France (“Sprint-Car”), in which she started competing at just fifteen years old. For at least the first two seasons, she raced against men, including her elder brother. In recent years, she has been part of the “Sprint Girls” womens’ championship, from which most of the 2014-2015 “Ice Girls” came.

Justine Monnier (Chicherit) - winner of the inaugural Andros Trophée Féminin in 2001. She went on to be ice-racing’s leading woman driver, racing cars as diverse as a VW Beetle, Citroen C2, Fiat Stilo and Kia Rio. Her team-mate in 2005 was Margot Laffite, when they were both driving as the Fiat Ladies’ team. She was probably most successful in the Kia in 2006, regularly finishing third against such luminaries as Alain Prost and the multiple champion, Yvan Muller. As well as the Andros Trophy, Justine has raced in a number of summer-season series, including the Fun Cup. She dropped out of ice-racing in 2008 and concentrated on the Peugeot Spyder Cup in France, as well as television work. Since then, she had focused on media work, and taken some guest drives in the Chevrolet Cruze Cup in Germany, with one win. In 2016, she came out of retirement to race in the Mitjet Cup in France. She did two races at Magny-Cours, driving for Yvan Muller's team. The two are a couple. 

Emilie Petit - competitor in both the Féminin and Open sections of the Andros Trophy. She began in the Trophée Féminin, in at least the 2002-2003 season. The following season, she moved up to the mixed competition in an Opel Tigra. She was 27th overall. She remained in the Promotion class in 2004-2005, this time in a Citroen Xsara, and finished one place up, in 26th. Another switch of car, to an Alfa Romeo 147, gave her a 34th place in 2005-2006, still in Promotion. A drive in a Renault Clio in 2006-2007 gave her a 36th spot. She did not drive in the Trophy the following season, but made a comeback in 2008-2009. She was a more competitive 27th after a series of drives in the official Skoda Fabia. In 2009-2010, she drove a Fiat Grande Punto, but struggled to qualify sometimes. She was 29th the following year and did not race in 2011-2012. In 2014, she raced in the Italian ICE series in a works Mazda3, although she did not run in the Andros Trophy.

Audrey Roche (Sarrazin) - winner of the Andros Trophée Féminin in 2007. She returned in 2008 to the main championship, and drove a Kia Rio in several rounds, with a best overall finish of 21st at Alpe d’Huez. After 2008, she did not return to the ice. Her website now describes her as a rally driver, although her rally results have not been forthcoming. She seems to have done some sportscar racing in France since her Andros adventures. In 2012, she was named as one of the French driver coaches for an Abarth-sponsored TV racing talent show. In 2013, she appears to have had a baby.

L-R: Marlene Broggi, Emilie Petit, Aurelia Marti, Justine Monnier, Eve-Marie Dyon, Marguerite Laffite.

(Images copyright Sport Compact Car)

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