Friday, 3 September 2010

Female Rally Drivers After 1950: France


Carole Vergnaud

France has been the home of many talented female drivers over the years. For more, please go to the Team Aseptogyl post. Due to the number of drivers, those active in the 2000s and 2010s have been given their own post. "Charlotte" now has her own post. Sylvie Seignobeaux can now be found here, and Lucette Pointet, here.


Lucienne Alziary de Roquefort – winner of the 1951 Paris-St Raphaël rally, driving a Panhard Dyna. In the same car, she was runner-up in the 1952 and 1954 event. When driving herself, she almost always used the Panhard, in which she first seems to have competed in 1950. She was second in class in that year’s Evian-Mont Blanc Rally, and won the Coupe des Dames the following year. Lucienne also acted as a navigator to several other drivers, both male and female, during the 1950s, including Gilberte Stempert, another Panhard driver, Mado Blanchoud and Paulo Guiraud. As well as rallying, she sometimes participated in circuit races, such as the 12 Hours of Hyères, in which she was part of a Panhard team in 1951.

Nicole Angelvin - regular co-driver to Marc Angelvin, between the end of WWII and 1955. She also drove her own car on occasion. One of her early attempts won her the 750cc class of the 1947 Rallye des Alpes Francaises, driving a Simca. In 1950, she shared a similar car with Suzanne Largeot for the Monte Carlo Rally. She co-drove with Marc in the Tour de France in 1951 and 1952, in two different Simca models. Later, the pair drove together in the 1955 Mille Miglia, in a Simca Aronde. They were 186th overall.


Liliane Aumas - French competitor of the late 1950s who drove Alfa Romeos. She was fifteenth on the 1958 Tour de Corse, driving a Giulietta Ti. In 1959, using the same car, she was fourth in the Touring class of the Tour de France, winning her category’s Coupe des Dames. Her co-driver on both occasions was Renée Wagner.

Jane Bagarry – rallied a Renault 1063 in the mid-1950s. She was second 1955 Paris-St. Raphaël Rally. She was also third in the same event in 1953. Using the same car, she entered the Monte Carlo Rally in 1956, as well as navigating for Panuel Bagarry in the Tour de Corse. In 1955, she also rallied a Peugeot, and entered the Monte. It is unclear whether or not she finished. She normally appears on entry lists as “Madame Bagarry”.

Barbara Baumel - rallied small cars in France between 1997 and 2004, mainly Citroens. She was probably most successful in a Saxo, earning her best overall finish of 27th in the 2002 La Rochelle Autumn Rally. She was fourth in class. 2002 was probably her busiest year for rallying, with five finishes from five events. After a long lay-off, during which she developed a career as a fashion stylist, she returned to the stages in 2016, driving a PGO Hemera in the GT10 class. She entered the Cote d’Azur Rallysprint, but did not finish.

Mado (Madeleine ?) Blanchoud - took part in major rallies, with some success, in Europe, during the 1950s. She seems to have begun her career as a navigator to her husband on the 1953 Tour de France. She returned to the Tour in 1956, 1957 and 1958, finishing thirteenth in 1956 in an Alfa Romeo Giulietta. She drove Alfa Romeos and a Porsche on the Monte Carlo Rally, probably the Tour De France 356 from 1957. Her best result was 4th on the 1958 Tulip Rally, in an Auto Union.


Séverine Carta - French driver who scored wins in class A5 in the Tour de Corse in 2001, driving a Citroen AX. She later turned to navigating and won class OS in the 2003 Rally Continentale Citta di Cecina. She was co-driving for Pascal Polidori in a BMW M3. In 2010, she returned to the driving seat in a Fiat Punto, to contest the Rallye de Pila-Canale Pietrosella, in Corsica.

Aurélia Chevalier – driver and co-driver, active in French rallies since 1998. Her two rally careers developed in tandem. She was a successful co-driver, who had sat beside several winning drivers. Until 2015, she mainly concentrated on navigation for several different drivers, making only a few driving outings a year. Her cars were a Peugeot 106 and a Renault Clio. In 2015, she rallied a Peugeot 106 and 208, and was competitive in both, scoring top-twenty finishes. She was fifteenth in the Rallye Régional du Clain in the 106, and 20th in the Rallye National de Saintonge, in the 208. In addition to this, she has won her class in the Rallye National du Foie Gras et de la Truffe, finishing 25th out of 47. Her 2016 schedule was much shorter, and she drove the 106 and a Peugeot 206. She is a tarmac specialist.

Mireille Chianéa – rallied a Peugeot 205 and Citroen AX in France, in the 1980s. She used the Peugeot during the 1987 season, in events including the Rallye du Var and the Behra Alpine Rally. In 1989, she drove the Citroen, and had a best overall finish of 44th, in the Tour Auto. She also acted as a co-driver to different drivers, between 1983 and 1991 at least. Two male drivers of the time, sharing her surname, may well have been related to her.

Martine Cordesse – rallied in the 1970s and early 1980s, both as a driver and a co-driver. She was part of a multi-car Aspeptogyl team for the 1974 Paris-St. Raphaël Rally, and was sixth. She drove an Alpine-Renault A110 for another couple of seasons, with some decent finishes in big rallies. The best of these was a tenth place in the 1977 Criterium Alpin. Later, between 1978 and 1981, she drove an Opel Kadett in French rallies. After another year as a co-driver, she faded from the scene. She sometimes competed alongside her brother, Bernard, as a navigator or a team-mate.

Muriel Gervais (given name also spelt Murielle) - graduate of the Citroen Total Trophy in 1984. She was the Ile-de-France local winner. After her season in a Visa Mille Pistes in 1984, she acquired a Renault 5 Turbo for the 1985 season. Her best finish was 15th, in the Rally du Touquet. Prior to 1984, she competed in hillclimbs and local rallies, and is described as having won the Rally Côte d’Opal on scratch. After a long lay-off, she returned to the French gravel stages in 1995 and 1996, driving a Renault Clio Williams. She was very competitive, and managed three top-ten finishes in 1995: seventh in the Narbonne and Picardie rallies, and sixth in the Charente event. Her best finish in 1996 was eleventh, in the Auxerrois Rally.

Elisabeth de Fresquet - rallied in France in the 1980s and 1990s in a series of small cars, including a Trabant. The Trabant drive was in support of Romanian orphans, on the 1992 Monte Carlo Rally. Her best international result was 28th, on the 1987 Tour De Corse. She won class A5 in an Opel Corsa. In 1990, she also won class A6 on the Tour de Corse. On her later attempts, her co-driver was her daughter, Virginie. Elisabeth is probably better known as a politician.


Denise Jacques - Frenchwoman who was active on the international scene in the late 1980s. She entered five WRC rounds in 1988, finishing four of them. Her car was a Citroen AX Sport, supported by the works team. Her best finish was 27th, which she achieved on the Portugal and San Remo rallies. She competed in France from much earlier than 1988, and is listed as a starter in the 1979 Lorraine Rally.


Thérèse Mahieuw - drove in the Tour de France, rallies and road races in the 1960s. She entered the Tour de France at three times between 1962 and 1964. In 1962 she drove a BMW 700, and in 1963 and 1964, an Alfa Romeo Giulia. In 1963, she and Daniele Martino used the BMW in the Rallye Routes du Nord and the Coupe des Alpes. In 1964, she entered the Criterium des Fleurs et des Parfums in the Alfa. Her co-driver for later events was usually Ginette Derolland.


“Natacha” – well-travelled French driver who was active in the 1970s and at the start of the 1980s. Her given name is never mentioned. She drove in three Acropolis Rallies between 1978 and 1980, in a Volkswagen Golf each time. Her navigator used the nom de course of “Berthe”. She does not appear to have finished any of these rallies. Earlier, in 1975, she drove a Fiat 124 Spider in the Rally of Morocco, but again, did not finish. Earlier still, she drove an Alpine 1300S in the Paris-St Raphaël Rally, finishing fifteenth in the National class.

Natacha Millon - rather mysterious driver who seems to have competed in Portugal. She entered the Rally of Portugal four times between 1979 and 1982. Her car was always a Volkswagen Golf, and her navigator for all four rallies was Berthe Lubert, another Frenchwoman. Natacha only finished the rally once, in 1979. She was 16th, and fourth in class. She and "Natacha" above were almost certainly the same person.

Pascale Neyret - entered a number of European WRC rallies between 1985 and 1990, usually in a Lancia, with midfield finishes. The best of these was a 19th position on the 1988 Monte Carlo Rally. She was the French Ladies' Champion in 1986, driving a Citroen Visa. This followed her participation in the Citroen Total Trophy in 1984, which used this model of car. She is the daughter of Bob Neyret, the creator of Team Aseptogyl.


Marie-Cecile Oudry - rallied in the 1990s, from at least 1991 onwards, although she seems to have done some speed eventing in the years prior to this. In 1991, she drove a Citroen AX in French events. The following year, she was third in the AX GTI Championship. By 1994, she had moved up to a ZX, but did not finish as well in the one-make standings. Later, in 1995, she switched to a Renault Clio Williams, which she used on her only WRC rally, the 1995 Tour de Corse. Sadly, she did not finish, but returned to take 20th place, first in class, in 2006. At least one year, she was the French female champion. She died of cancer in 2005.

Nicole Pizot – French driver from a rallying family, active mostly in the 1960s. Her father was Paul Pizot, another rally driver. Driving a DB Panhard, she was second in the 1959 Paris-St. Raphaël Rally, with Lucette Pointet on the maps. Nicole probably started competing in 1958. She and Lucette entered the 1960 Monte Carlo Rally together, but it is unclear whether or not they finished. Driving solo, Nicole entered that year’s Mont Ventoux hillclimb, in the DB, and was tenth in class. Between 1958 and 1960, she drove in many French rallies, including the Beaujolais Rally (her first event in 1958) and the Lyon-Charbonnières. Her competition career seems to have been very short.

Madeleine Pochon - one of Europe’s top female drivers in the mid-1950s. She won her first Monte Carlo Coupe des Dames in 1953, driving a Citroen 4CV, as well as competing on the Alpine Rally. In 1954, she repeated her Monte Carlo achievement and finished seventh overall. Her co-driver was Lise Renaud. She switched to a 1900cc Alfa Romeo for the 1955 season and entered the Monte Carlo Rally once more, although she was not the top lady this time. That year, she is also listed as an entrant in the Mille Miglia, driving the same car.


Lilian Polge - appears to have entered the Monte Carlo Rally three times: 1979, 1999 and 2000. Her best finish was 50th in 2000, driving a Subaru Impreza. The previous year, she drove a Ford Escort, but was excluded for unknown reasons.


Françoise Prod’homme – rallied small cars in the 1980s, mostly in France. In 1983, she took part in the revived Paris-St. Raphaël Rally, in a Renault 5, and was fifth overall. In 1985, she was still driving the Renault, and entered the Rallye du Var. By 1988, she had updated the Renault to a Citroen AX, which she used in another edition of the Rallye du Var.


Yvonne Terray - French driver of the 1950s. She drove a Peugeot 203 in the 1954 Alpine Rally and another Peugeot in the 1956 event. In 1954, she may also have finished the Geneva Rally. She also entered the Monte Carlo Rally on at least one occasion.


Michèle Vallet - competed in France in the 1970s. She drove an Alfa Romeo 1750 Spider and GTAM in 1971, and won her class in the Paris-St. Raphael women’s rally. She was also eleventh in the Alpine Rally and 20th in the Cevenole Rally. Later, she drove a more powerful 2000 GTV. It was in this car that she finished the 1976 Mont Blanc Rally. Later still, she finished the 1979 Monte Carlo Rally in an Autobianchi A112. Early in her career, she navigated for her husband.


Carole Vergnaud - French driver who was a member of the Citroen works team. 1987 was her best year, driving a Visa Mille Pistes. She was twelfth on the Monte Carlo Rally and won her class on the Swedish, finishing 24th overall. She stayed with Citroen for 1989, although her only international finish came on the RAC Rally, in 41st. Later, she was eleventh in the Rallye des Garrigues. As well as rallying, Carol raced Citroens on the track with some success.


Ghislaine Viano – rallied a Renault 5 Turbo in France, in the late 1980s and early 1990s. In 1989, she was 34th in the Tour Auto.  Later, she seems to have been a regular in the Criterium Jean Behra, held in Nice. Her best finish was 27th, in 1992, driving with Laetitia Ruggeri. In 1993, she drove in the Rally d’Antibes, with Mireille Chianéa. She may be related to current French driver, Allison Viano.

Annie Wambergue – French ladies’ rally champion in 1965, driving an NSU Prinz. This was only her second year of rallying, and she won the NSU Trophy as well. Her first car had been a Citroen 2CV. For the rest of her career, which lasted until 1970, she remained loyal to NSU. In 1969, she was one of NSU’s works drivers, although this was not a good year for her, with lots of car trouble. Her best overall result was probably her third place in the 1966 Flanders-Hainault Rally. Her last rally was Portugal in 1970, in which she drove a Simca 1100 with Claude Delcourt.

(Image source Citroen promotional materials)

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