Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Women in Belcar

Kelly Jamers in 2009

Belgium’s premier endurance championship has attracted a good number of female drivers since the 1990s. International sportscar racer Vanina Ickx had some of her early experience in the series, and Alexandra van de Velde has also competed further afield.

The championship was originally for touring and GT cars together, but its focus has shifted more towards sportscars in recent years, becoming a GT championship in 2007. Its blue riband event was the Zolder 24 Hours race.

Belcar has now been superseded by the Belgian Racing Car Championship (BRCC). Until 2013, the Zolder 24 Hours was part of it, but it now runs as a stand-alone event.

The following drivers have all competed in Belcar or the BRCC. Most of them are Belgian nationals.

Danique Aelaerts – competes in drifting in Europe, but has also done some circuit racing. She began her drifting career in 2009, and had her first circuit races in 2013, in a Mazda MX-5. She raced in that year’s Zolder 24 Hours in the Mazda, as part of the “Racing Stars” women’s team, who had come together for a TV programme. Her co-drivers were Veerle Bammens, Eveline Maes and Anke de Dauw. In the Endurance section of the Belgian Racing Car Championship, she drove a Porsche 996 with Sarah Ganser and Karen Vaes. They were 17th in the first round, at Zolder, but Danique was replaced by Charlotte Maes for the rest of the season. In 2014, she took part in the Zolder 24 Hours again, in a Porsche 996. She was eleventh, assisted by Karen Vaes, Gideon Wijnschenk, Bart van Haeren and Filip van Eename. She has also done some historic rallying in Belgium, in a 1983 Alfa Romeo GTV6. Most of 2016 was spent drifting and doing film stunt work, before a leg injury in October curtailed her activities.

Peggy Aerts - Belcar sports class racer in 2002 and 2003. Her car was a KS Motorsport BMW M3. In 2002, her best finish was 20th, accompanied by Michael de Keersmaecker and Jacques Morlet. They were first in the TA class. Her 2003 team-mates were Werner Moonens and Jurgen Lippens. Their best result was fourteenth in the Zolder 24 Hours. Peggy does not appear to have competed since then.

Kata Bozo - raced alongside Ines Lammens in the Skylimit Yokohama BMW in 2016. She is Hungarian, but lives and works in Belgium. 2016 was her first season and included the Fun Cup 25 Hours and Zolder 24 Hours, in which she was fifth in class (32nd overall). She was one of the older drivers in the team at 20. Ines and Kata won the Belcar Ladies’ Trophy in 2017, and were third in their class. In 2018, Kata raced in the team’s other BMW E90 for the first event of the season, but switched to VGL Racing and their Saker prototype for the 24 Hours of Zolder. She and her team-mates were 19th overall and sixth in class and Kata retained her Ladies' title. She also raced in the Ford Fiesta Sprint Cup in Belgium.

Carla Brackx - popular touring car driver from Belgium. She competed in Belcar between 2000 and 2002, before apparently leaving the motorsport world to concentrate on business interests. For all three seasons, her car was a BMW E36 Compact, usually run by Mienwest, but in 2002, the Jim TV team. She scored some top-three finishes in the TB class. The Zolder 24 Hours was her best race, and she scored her best-ever overall finish of 20th there in 2002. Her co-driver for all three seasons was Pieter Vierpoort. She was the Ladies’ champion in 2002. In 2012, she made a comeback of sorts, and appeared at a track day at Spa.

Frederike Cassiers - winner of the Belcar Ladies’ Trophy in 2001, driving a Porsche 993. Her team-mates were Philip Daelemans and Marc Meuwissen. Her best result was a tenth place, fourth in class, in the Zolder 24 Hours. Mostly, she finished in around 23rd place. 2001 appears to have been her only year of major competition.

Joyce de Troch - raced a Porsche in Belcar, on and off, between 1998 and 2002, with consistent lower-midfield finishes. In her first year, she did two races at Zolder, driving a 911 with Walter Grootaers and Patrick Schreurs, including the Zolder 24 Hours. She was partnered by Paul Moonen in 2001. Their car was a Coast Racing 993. Joyce was fourth in the Ladies’ standings. She and Moonens stayed together for the 2002 season, driving for Coast and Ham Car Tuning. Their best finish was 28th, twelfth in class, at Spa. Away from the track, Joyce is an actress and TV presenter.

Caroline Grifnée - drove for the Daikin team in Belcar in 2005 and 2006, with Alexandra van de Velde. In the first year, she was a third driver, but she replaced Vanina Ickx in 2006. Their car was due to be a Ferrari 360, but a practice crash and loss of a sponsor meant this was changed to a BMW 120d. The team also took part in some Dutch Supercar rounds, and won their class at Spa. Since leaving the Daikin set-up at the end of 2006, she has competed in Legends and 2CV races, including the annual 24-hour event at Spa. On the international stage, she drove a Porsche 997 GT3 for Speed Lover at the Dubai 24 Hours. Her team-mates were Jose Close, Victor Rodrigues and Jim Michaelian. They did not finish. She has also raced in the Toyota Yaris Cup in Belgium. In 2009 and 2010, she competed in Renault one-make series, including the Renault Megane Eurocup in 2010. In 2011, she drove again in the Dubai 24 Hours, and won Class A2 in a Renault Clio, as part of the iOpener team. In 2014, she drove a Porsche 911 in the Le Mans Classic, and was 31st in Plateau 4. Her co-driver was Carolyn Twaites. In 2017, she raced a Chevron B16 at Spa, part of the FIA Masters Historic Sportscar Championship. She was 17th. In 2018, she continued in historics, racing the Chevron at Le Mans and also a Ford Escort and Porsche 911 around Europe. She remains involved in motorsport in a professional capacity, as a sporting manager for the Renault E.Dams Formula E team.

Audrey van Ham – raced a Porsche in Belgium. From about 2010, her name starts to appear in starting lists for Belgian historic events, including the 2010 Belgian Historic Cup at the Zolder 24 Hours, and the 2011 Spa Summer Classic. She has also raced more modern machinery, and was part of a Skylimit Yokohama team for the 2013 Zolder 24 Hours. Her team-mates were Karen Vaes, Jo Lammens and Charlotte Maes. They were twelfth overall, driving a Porsche 996. Audrey got into motorsport through her father, who also races historics.

Kelly Jamers - another Belgian racer. She raced in Belcar in 2003 and 2005. Her 2003 car was a BMW M3, and she was fourth in class TA. In 2005, she drove a Porsche GT3. She has taken part in the Zolder 24 Hours twice, and her best result was sixth, in 2004, driving the GT3. She used a similar car for the 2006 Dubai 24 Hours. Aside from endurance racing, she has competed in one-make series for Renault, Toyota and the Mini Cooper. She began her career in a Clio in 1999, before campaigning a Megane in 2000, with one eleventh place. She moved to the Toyota Yaris Cup for two seasons in 2002 and 2003, with a best overall result of thirteenth. The Mini Challenge was combined with her other commitments in 2004 and 2005, which included a class win in the Belgian Touring Cup, driving a Porsche 993. In 2009, she made a comeback, driving a Porsche in the Dunlop Sport Maxx Endurance Cup.

Stéphane Kox - races saloons and single-seaters in the Benelux countries. She is the daughter of Peter Kox, and they teamed up in BMW 235I with three other drivers to win the 2015 24 Hours of Zolder. Her run in the 24 Hours was part of a season in the BMW 235 Racing Cup in Belgium, which she won outright. That year, she scored two second places in the same car, in the Assen rounds of the Supercar Challenge. In 2016, she did some races in the VdeV Endurance championship, driving a Porsche, and took part in the 24 Hours of Paul Ricard in a Mercedes. In 2017, she raced an Audi TT at the Imola 24 Hours, but did not finish. She also took part in two European GT4 races, driving a KTM X-Bow. Her best finish was fifth, at Misano. She did best in the VdeV Endurance series in a Ligier, recording two second places. In 2018, she did not do many major events but she did drive a Ligier at Shanghai for one round of the Asian Le Mans Series, as part of an all-female R24 team. She started racing in 2013, in ADAC Formel Masters, and was sixteenth in the championship, with a best finish of eighth, at the Slovakiaring.

Ines Lammens - began racing in Belgium in 2016, when she was 16. In her first year of racing, she tackled the 25 Hour Fun Cup race and the 24 Hours of Zolder, driving a BMW for Skylimit Yokohama Racing. She raced in the revived Belcar series in 2017, alongside Kata Bozo and Jo Lammens, who is her father. She and Kata won the Ladies’ Trophy. They were third in their class overall. The team raced in Belcar in 2018 as AR Performance. They were ninth overall and third in class.

Linsy Lanssens - raced in Belcar. She drove a Lotus Elise in the 1999 and 2000 seasons with Christophe Tuyttens. Their best result in 2000 was 33rd, at the Zolder FIA GT round. In 2001, she shared a BMW E46 with Alexandra van de Velde. Their best overall performance was 22nd in the Zolder 24 Hours, although they were third in class at Spa also. In 2002 she changed teams again, to the KS Motorsport operation. She and Michael de Keersmaecker did two races together in a BMW M3 E36, repeating Linsy’s best result of 22nd. She was then replaced by several other drivers. In 2004, she re-appeared as a guest driver in the Mini Challenge. More recently, she has competed in three-day eventing.

Charlotte Maes – races in endurance events in Belgium. In 2013, she took part in the BRCC Long Race series, after some races in the Fun Cup and in the Renault Clio Cup. She was competing as part of the Skylimit Yokohama Ladies team, with Sarah Ganser and Karen Vaes. Their car was a Porsche 996. She did not do the full season, but stepped in to replace Danique Aelaerts. Her best result was 15th, at Spa. She also raced in the Zolder 24 Hours, as part of a mixed Skylimit team with Karen Vaes, Audrey van Ham and Jo Lammens. They were twelfth overall.

Sigrid Maes - races in Belcar for JuSi Racing. Her car for 2018 was a BMW 120D, which she raced as part of a three-driver team in the Endurance championship. She and Jurgen Vermeulen are the “Ju” and “Si” in the team name. The team was formed by the pair at the end of 2016, and their first race was that year’s Zolder 24 Hours. Sigrid had done track days before starting her career with Vermeulen. The team also occasionally competes in the Fun Cup.

Hanne Terium - Dutch driver racing in the 2018 Ford Fiesta Sprint Cup. She recorded a top-ten finish in its first race at Zolder. Previously, she raced a BMW E90 in both Belcar and the Dutch Supercar Challenge. She was part of the AR Performance team for that year’s Zolder 24 Hours, as team-mate (but not sharing cars) to Ines Lammens and Kata Bozo. She raced for EMG Motorsport in Dutch Supercars and was ninth in Supersport Division 2, driving solo. This was her first season of racing, although she comes from a motorsport background and raced karts from the age of 12.  

Lieve Thiron - raced in the sports class in Belcar between 2000 and 2003, finishing as runner-up in the Ladies’ standings in 2001 and 2002. She normally finished mid-field. As part of Belcar, she has also competed in some bigger sports races, such as the Spa and Zolder 24 Hours. In 2000, she was fourteenth in the Zolder 24 Hours, thirteenth in 2001 and tenth in 2002, although she did not finish in 2003. All the time, her class results improved as well. She was usually part of a family team with her husband Dirk Geerinckx and later, their son Matthieu. Their car was either a Porsche 996 or 993 GT3.

Karen Vaes – races in the BRCC and the Zolder 24 Hours, in a Porsche 996. She participated in the Long Race championship of the BRCC in 2013, for the Skylimit team, and was 23rd overall, with Sarah Ganser. Her best finish was fifteenth, at Spa. In August, she also raced in the Zolder 24 Hours for the first time, and was twelfth, with Audrey van Ham, Charlotte Maes and Jo Lammens. In 2014, she raced at Zolder again, and was eleventh, second in class. Her team-mates were Danique Aelerts, Filip van Eename, Bart van Haeren and Gideon Wijnschenk. She is also very active in the drift scene, in a BMW M3 E36.

(Image from http://www.heusden-zolder.eu/)

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