Specialist drivers who have competed in rally raids across the globe. Those who are better-known as stage rally drivers or circuit racers are listed in their respective sections. The best-known female rally-raid exponents, Jutta Kleinschmidt, Isabelle Patissier, Martyna Wojciechowska and Andrea Mayer, have their own profiles.
Madalena Antas (Cupertino de Miranda) – competed in rally raids, often for the Nissan Dessoude team. She drove a Pathfinder pick-up for the team in the 2007 Dakar, the last to be held in Africa, but did not finish. This was her third attempt at the Dakar for Nissan. In 2005, she was 17th in the Baja Espana Aragon, driving a Toyota Landcruiser. Early in her career, she also won the Portuguese off-road championships. Madalena is following in the footsteps of her mother, Teresa, another Dakar competitor.
Hend Chaouch - one of Tunisia’s foremost drivers. She has driven in the Rally Tunisia fourteen times, as driver and navigator. Her first time in the driving seat was 2001, when she finished the Tunisian, Moroccan, Dubai and Paris-Dakar raids. Her best finish was 17th with a class win in Dubai. These have been her best results, although she has won several honours for being the first Tunisian, African or female finisher. She has taken part in the Dakar twice. As well as the Cross-Country World Cup, she has competed in women-only rallies, and was third in the 1994 Rallye des Gazelles. She has also organised rallies in Tunisia and worked in assistance teams. Her cars have been a Toyota Landcruiser, Mitsubishi Evolution and Nissan Patrol. She was banned from competition for 2010, after an incident on the 2009 Tunisia Rally. In 2011, she returned to the Rally Tunisia in a Toyota. After this, she does not appear to have competed, and her website has been taken down. In 2013, she spoke out publicly in support of Saudi women being permitted to drive, alongside Ari Vatanen. In 2014, she returned to desert rally raids, and won the Ladies' award on the Rallye du Maroc. Her car was a Toyota HDJ80. She planned to enter the Rally of Tunisia again in 2015, but did not make the start. In 2017, she was second in the Rallye El Chott, driving a Toyota, an event she won in 2018.
Martine de Cortanze - Frenchwoman who raced both cars and bikes in long-distance events. She entered the first Dakar in 1979 on a motorcycle, and entered every race until 1983. She also had a considerable career in stage rallying, winning ladies’ awards in the Monte Carlo and Corsica rallies, among others. She also took part in the Paris-St. Raphaël Rally at least once, in the 1970s.
Monique Delannoy – first female driver to compete on the Dakar in the Car class, in 1980. She drove a Peugeot 504 with Catherine Bonnier, but they did not finish. In 1981, she used a Mercedes 240 jeep, and was 25th, with Bernadette Sacy. The following year, she drove a Volkswagen Iltis, with Alain Bodard, but again did not finish. Another run in an Iltis in 1983, this time as a navigator to her husband, Jean, gave her a 38th place. Co-driving again, she assisted Nicole Maitrot, a former motorcycle competitor, to 16th place in the 1984 Dakar, in a Mitsubishi Pajero. Previously, Monique raced in the Leyland Trophy in France, with Bernadette Sacy. This was a one-make series for British Leyland cars, in 1978.
Pascale Geurie - one of the first women to enter the Paris-Dakar rally, in 1979. She was contesting the motorcycle class. She also drove a Range Rover in the 1982 event, but did not finish. On the track, she attempted to qualify for Le Mans as well, driving a Lola with Martine Renier and Anna Cambiaghi in 1978. Prior to this, she had raced on the French circuits, in touring cars.
Estelle Hallyday (Lefébure) – drove in rally raids in 2000, as part of a Mitsubishi-based private team. She competed for the team in that year’s Tunisian Rally, and also in the Dakar, driving a Pajero. Later, she was associated with an Italian team running a Nissan Pathfinder, but she does not appear to have actually competed. In 1992 or 1993, she raced a Venturi prototype in the Andros Trophy. Estelle is better known as a model and actress.
Véronique Jacquot (Muringer) – took part in rally raids in a truck in the mid-2000s. She was 29th in the 2004 Dakar, as part of an all-female team in a MAN truck. Her team-mates were Geraldine Brucy and Uta Baier. She first entered the Dakar in 2003. In 2004, she also became the first driver to enter the Rallye des Gazelles in an HGV, a Mercedes Unimog. She first competed in the Rallye des Gazelles in 2002.
Christine Martin – French driver who drove in rally raids in the early 1980s. She raced motorcycles in rally raids for much longer, and was one of the first women to finish the Dakar on a motorcycle. In 1984, she entered the four-wheeled Dakar, and drove a Lada Niva. She did not finish. Unfortunately, the following year, she scored another DNF in the Dakar, this time driving a Peugeot 504 Dangel. She does not appear to have rallied again after this.
Guo Meiling – Chinese driver who entered the Dakar in 2016, driving a Mini. Unfortunately, she was injured in a crash during the prologue, when her car left the road and hit spectators. Previously, she had driven the car in rally raids in China, finishing 22nd in the 2015 Taklimakan Rally, and 21st in the 2014 Grand China Rally. Her start in rallying came through competing on a quad in Chinese raids.
Carole Montillet (Carles) – former Olympic skiing champion who turned to motorsport after her retirement. Initially, she concentrated on rally raids, and won the Quad class of the Rally Aïcha des Gazelles in 2004 and 2005. Her partner was Mélanie Suchet. In 2006 and 2007, she was second in the Car class. She then moved into mixed competition, in the French Tout-Terrain championship, and the Transafrican Rally. She was sixth in the Transafrican event in 2006. In 2007, she took part in her first Dakar Rally, driving a Nissan, but could not finish, due to problems with the car’s electronics. Later, in 2011, she returned to the Rallye des Gazelles, in a Springbok prototype with Syndiely Wade, and won the event outright, a feat she repeated in 2012, navigated by Julie Verdaguer in a Jugand Buggy. In between, she tried circuit racing, in the form of the Racecar stock car championship in France, in 2010. She did four races, and was 24th overall. In 2015, she won the expert category of the Rally Aïcha des Gazelles, driving a Toyota.
(Maria) Céu Pires de Lima – Portuguese driver who competes in rally raids in Europe and further afield. She drove a Toyota with Pedro Silva Nunes in the 2006 Dakar, and finished in 66th place. At the time, she was 58 years old. This was her second attempt at the Dakar, having entered, but not finished, in 1997. In her home country, she has won multiple Ladies’ titles in off-road rallying, as well as class wins, in the 1990s and 2000s. She has occasionally been co-driven by Teresa Cupertino de Miranda, her cousin and the mother of Madalena Antas. The two rallied together in the 2011 Baja Portugal. She has often driven Toyotas, but also used a Nissan Navarra for the 2004 Baja Portugal.
Yara Shalaby – Egyptian driver who competes in cross-country rallies. She has raced both cars and motorcycles, but now concentrates on four wheels. In 2014, she entered the Pharaons Rally, in a Toyota Landcruiser. In 2015, she drove in a series of local raid events, including the El- Remal Desert Challenge and the El-Gouna Rally (on a motorcycle), where she had an accident and injured herself. She is not from a motorsport background, and initially struggled to prepare her car to the correct scrutineering standards, and to find a reliable navigator who would not get the team lost. At the end of 2015, she vied for a funded place in the 2016 Sealine Desert Rally Challenge, through the FIA’s Women In Motorsport event in Qatar. She was not one of the winners. In 2016, she competed in the Al-Remal Challenge, as well as setting a record for kayaking, and founding the Gazelle Rally Team, and all-female, all-Egyptian rally raid team. She drove in the 2018 Fujairah Rally in the UAE but did not finish in her Nissan Pathfinder.
Makiko Tomokawa – competed in rally raids in the 1990s and early 2000s, usually in a Mitsubishi. Frustratingly little information about her career is readily available, but she appears to have driven in the Dakar from at least 1995, using a Mitsubishi T1 that year, and other Mitsubishi models in subsequent additions. In 2000, she is described as a “veteran”, alongside her regular co-driver, Akemi Asada.
Syndiely Wade - Senegalese rally raid specialist who has participated in four editions of the Dakar. Her first entry, in 2003, resulted in the 58th spot. She drove a Nissan Terrano in the event in 2004, but could not finish this time. Another Nissan vehicle gave her a 52nd place in 2005, as well as a finish in the all-female Rally Aicha des Gazelles, with Valerie Dot navigating. After a break from competition in 2006, she tried the Dakar again in 2007, but did not finish. She and Valerie competed in the 2008 Rally des Gazelles, although the Dakar was cancelled. In 2010, she entered the Rallye des Gazelles again, alongside Carole Montillet Carles. Their vehicle was a Nissan Springbok. They repeated their win in 2011, and Syndiely triumphed again in 2013, this time with Florence Pham. They were driving an Isuzu D-Max. Her profile has been lower since her father was deposed as the President of Senegal.
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