Friday, 3 September 2010

Female Rally Drivers After 1950: Italy

Pierangela Riva (right, in headband) after the Rimini Rally, with other female competitors, including navigator Betty Tognana

For other Italian drivers, please visit the Italian Drivers in the 21st CenturyRally Winners and Team Aseptogyl posts. Ada Pace  and Patrizia Sciascia now have their own posts.

Cora de Adamich - rallied in Italy between 1996 and 2000, before moving to touring cars and then leaving motorsport. For most of that time, she drove Fiat Cinquecento and Seicento models, as part of one-make series. Her best result in these series was eighth, in 1998, before she moved to the Italian two-wheel-drive championship. Her best outright result was 28th, in the 1999 Rally del Gargano. She is the daughter of former F1 driver, Andrea de Adamich.

Paola Alberi – rallied various small cars in Italian events, in the early and mid-1980s. She began in the A112 Abarth Rally Trophy in 1980 and 1981. Her first big rally was the 1982 Targa Florio, in a Fiat Ritmo 105. She did not finish. In 1983, she had a best overall finish of 16th, in the Rally 4 Regioni, assisted by the experienced Mariagrazia Vitadello. This was one of two Ladies’ Prizes she won that year, the other being in the Rally Piancavello. In 1984, she switched to using a Citroen Visa, and had a best finish of 19th, in the Rallye Sanremo, then a WRC round.

Lara Battistolli - drove F2 Renault cars in Italian rallies between 1999 and 2001, driving a Renault Clio Williams and a Maxi Megane. Her best result was 7th in the 1999 Rally del Gargano. She scored another top-ten finish on the 2001 Rally delle Alpi Orientali, finishing ninth. As well as conventional stage rallies, she has also competed on the revived Targa Florio, coming eleventh in 1998.

Silvia Cailotto - rallied in Italy in the 1990s. She used and Opel Kadett in 1991 and a Ford Sierra RS Cosworth in 1992, in the Italian championship. Her best overall result was a twelfth place in the Rally Piancavallo in 1991, assisted by Vanda Geninatti. This was an ERC rally. That year, she took part in her only WRC event, the Rallye Sanremo, but did not finish. She was also 16th in the 1992 Targa Florio Sicily Rally.

Tania Canton - better-known as a navigator to many European drivers, between 2000 and the present day. In 1998, she spent a season in the driving seat, taking part in the Fiat Cinquecento Trophy in Italy. She was third in the Ladies' standings, having competed in several national-level rallies. Much later, in 2001, she made a return to driving in the Rally Coppa Citta di Lucca, in a Fiat Seicento. Her co-driver was Lisa Ricchieri and they were 46th. She is still active as a navigator.

Elisabetta Cavenaghi - European Ladies’ champion in 1998 and 1999. and eight times Italian Ladies’ champion. She competed as both a driver and a navigator in major rallies between 1993 and 2002. As a driver, she most frequently used a Nissan Sunny GTi, although she also drove a Ford Escort in 1995 and a Nissan Almera in 1999. Her best result was twelfth in the Rally delle Alpi Orientali in 1998, in the Sunny. She drove in one WRC event: the 1998 Sanremo Rally, but retired, also in the Sunny. In 1993, she had co-driven Paolo Onoscuri to 19th in the same event, in a Ford Escort. She competed in Italian rallies from at least 1991, when she campaigned a Ford Fiesta XR2.

Sara Clerici - Italian driver from the late 1980s onwards. She was 15th and first lady in the 1990 Targa Florio, driving a Lancia Delta Integrale. In 1988, she drove a Group N Lancia Delta in the Monza Rally. At some point, she came third in the Rally di Romana-Toscana, although the year has proved difficult to track down. More recently, she has driven in rallies for environmentally-friendly vehicles, finishing in the top ten of at least one.

Roberta Franzoni - rallied in Italy between 1997 and 2003, first in a Peugeot 106, then in a series of Mitsubishi Lancers and Ford Escort RS Cosworths. Her best result was a fourteenth place in the 1998 Rally del Salento, driving a Lancer Evo 4; she was third in Group N. She was also fourteenth in the same rally two years later, in an Evo 5, but did not score so well in class. She scored one more top twenty position, a 16th place in the 2000 Rally di San Marino. She remains active as a co-driver, and made a guest appearance as a driver in the 2017 Trofeo Valle di San Martino. Her car was a Citroen Saxo.

Chantal Galli - rallied a Lancia Delta Integrale in Italy in the late 1980s. She is recorded as having finished 38th on the 1988 San Remo Rally. She was also a Swiss champion one year, and the 1986 Italian Laides' champion also. Previously, in 1984 and possibly earlier, she co-drove in Italy. In 1984, she was the regular co-driver to Pierangela Riva. Later, she apparently drove a Unimog on the Dakar. She returned to the stages in 2010, for historic events.

Fiorenza Genta – rallied a series of Lancias around Europe in the 1960s. In 1964, she drove a HF Scuderia Corse Flavia in the Polish Rally, but did not finish. Between then and 1967, she rallied in the Tulip, Monte Carlo and Polish events, as well as some French national rallies, using either the Flavia, or a Fulvia. The Fulvia gave her the best result of her career, a 29th overall in the 1968 Monte Carlo Rally. A finish on the previous year’s Monte left her in sixth place in the European Group 1 standings. Very little biographical information is available for her.

Giannina Lepori – rather obscure driver who seems to have been active in southern Europe during the late 1960s. She was 22nd in the Rally Costa Brava in 1967, driving a Mini. Previously, she had entered the Rallye des Deux Catalognes, also in Spain, in 1964 and 1965. In 1967, she was also in Italy, for the Rally Invierno. Contemporary news sources describe Giannina as an Italian resident in Spain. As well as rallies, she was active in hillclimbs, and is listed as an entrant in the Montseny climb in France, in 1967.

Mascha Mularo - has campaigned a wide variety of cars in Italian rallies since the mid-1990s, starting with Fiat one-make series. Her best results are a pair of 13th overall places, achieved in the Rally Citta di Torina and the Rally delle Alpi Orientali, in a Renault Clio Williams and Peugeot 306 Maxi respectively, in 1999 and 2000. In more recent seasons, she has competed in historic races and rallies, as well as the Campionato Italiano. She has driven an earlier Subaru Impreza as well as more classic machinery. She drove in the Targa Florio rally in 1998.

Enrica Munaretto - active throughout the 1990s in Italian rallies. She was most effective in a Ford Escort Cosworth RS between 1995 and 1997, coming seventh in the 1995 Rally della Lana and winning Group N. She was Italian Ladies’ Champion in 1997, supported by Martini Racing, in a Ford Escort. In addition to her Italian championship outings, she drove in the San Remo WRC round three times, in 1993, 1994 and 2000, using the Escort and a Renault Megane. Her best finish was 21st, in 1993. In 2000, she competed in both the Mille Miglia and Targa Florio rallies. She made a return in 2007, driving a Peugeot 106, but did not finish the Rally Citta di Bassano.

Francesca Patrese - entered the Fiat Cinquecento Trophy in 1997 and the Fiat Seicento Trophy in 1998. She won a regional Ladies' title in the Seicento Trophy, ahead of Cora de Adamich. During that year, she also drove in the Rallye Sanremo, finishing 72nd in a Seicento Sporting. Her co-driver was Michela Graziato. Later, she turned to circuit-based motorsport, and competed on and off in Italian touring cars and Mini Cars. She appears to have retired in 2007.

Claudia Peroni – TV motorsport reporter who competed internationally in rallying in the 1980s and 1990s. She usually drove Lancias, run by one of the works satellite teams, although for the first few years of her rally career, in the mid-1980s, she drove a series of Fiats. Her international outings all seem to have been in the islands of Spain and Portugal, and included five runs in the Rali Vinho da Madeira. Her best finish in this event was twelfth, in 1993, driving an Astra-run Lancia Delta HF Integrale. In the same car, she was fourteenth in the Madeira Rally in 1994. As well as Madeira, she rallied in the Canary Islands. Her last competitive outing was the Prince Albert Challenge in Monaco, in 1997. She drove a Fiat Cinquecento, but did not finish. She remains a regular contributor to Italian motorsport television.

Marina Perzy – competed during the late 1980s. Her best year was 1988, when she was third in the Italian championships. Her best result was a thirteenth place in the Elba Rally, driving a Group N Fiat Uno. She began rallying in 1986, as part of “LadyRally”, a women’s motorsport initiative. She was then part of something called “Protagonista Donna”, another women’s rally programme. One or both of these initiatives were sponsored by Ford, and involved three all-female teams. Marina is better-known as an actress and TV and radio personality.

Patricia Pilchard – competed under the flag of Italy, although she was born in France and was of American origin. She was active as a competitor in the 1980s, and drove a Fiat Ritmo, sponsored by Totip for at least one season, in 1980. She entered the Valli Imperiesi Rally in 1982, in a Peugeot 205, and the Rally della Marca at least once, in a Fiat. In 1984, she took part in the Terza Zona championship in Italy, although no results are forthcoming. Her navigator that year was Mariagrazia Vitadello, and Vanda Geninatti also sat beside her during her career. Patricia is better known as a TV personality.

Serena Pittoni – Italian driver who rallied Lancias in Italy, with some success, in the 1970s. She was ninth in the Rally Dell’Isola d’Elba, driving a Lancia Fulvia. Earlier, in 1972, she was the Italian Ladies’ Rally Champion, driving for the Jolly Club team. In 1973, she was second in class in the Monte Carlo Rally, in a Jolly Club Fulvia Fanalone. As well as conventional stage rallies, she was a five-time entrant in the Giro D’Italia, between 1973 and 1980. Her best finish was third, in 1978, driving a Lancia Stratos with Claudio Magnani and “Cresto”. She also co-drove in rallies for Leo Pittoni, “Il Pilota” in a variety of cars, and with Anna Cambiaghi in the 1975 Targa Florio.

Pierangela Riva - drove in Italian and European rallies in the 1980s. She was a keen rival of “Micky” Martinelli, and the two vied for the 1985 Italian Ladies’ championship. Pierangela drove a Peugeot 205 that year and won the Ladies’ Group A title. Among the rallies she contested were the Targa Florio and the Elba Rally. During her career, she entered one World Championship rally: the 1987 Rally Sanremo. She was 24th, driving a Lancia Delta HF. Her co-driver was Christina Larcher and they were fifth in Group N. More recently, Pierangela has been competing in historic rallies in Italy, often in a Peugeot, and sometimes with her daughter as her navigator. In 2014, she was 20th in the Rally Pietra di Bagnolo, driving a Renault Clio.

Roberta Rossi - competed in Italy and Europe from the mid-1990s. Her first major entry seems to have been the 1995 Monte Carlo Rally, driving a Fiat Cinquecento. She returned to the Monte in 1998, in a similar car, and finished 40th this time, sixth in class. In 1998, she also rallied in the Italian championship, using a Subaru Impreza and a Renault Clio Williams. Neither proved reliable, and she retired from most of her events. One bright spot was a sixth place in the Rally Costa Smeralda, in the Impreza. She made a comeback in the Impreza in 2002, but could not finish the Rally di San Crispino. In 2010, she came back again, and was 74th in the Rallye Sanremo in a Clio. Her navigator for most of her career was Laura Bionda.

Gisella Rovegno - driver and co-driver from Italy. She has competed internationally since 1992, starting as a navigator to Ennio Bini. She last competed in a Fiat Punto S1600 as a co-driver to Fabrizio Tabaton in 2005, as part of the Italian championship. She drove herself between 1999 and 2003. 2000 was her best year, and she finished the Catalunya and Corsica WRC rounds in her Renault Clio Williams. She recorded DNFs in the 1999 and 2000 San Remo rallies. Outside the WRC, she used a Renault Megane Maxi, Mitsubishi Lancer and Fiat Stilo Abarth between 2001 and 2004 in Italian National rallies, with little success, before returning to the navigator’s seat.

Fiorenza Soave – multiple Italian ladies’ champion between 1978 and 1986, mostly driving an Autobianchi A112, Fiat Ritmo Abarth and 130. Her Coupe des Dames successes included the Piancavallo Rally, Rally Colline di Romagna, Elba Rally and San Marino Rally. After a long lay-off for motherhood, she returned to the stages in 2008, still in the Ritmo. Initially, she was a regular in the San Remo Rallylegend event, but in 2014, she moved into historic stage rallying, where she is still a regular competitor.

"Giusy" (Giuseppa) Tocco - appears to have begun her career as a navigator, co-driving for Moncada in 1988. Later, she entered the 1997 Fiat Cinquecento Trophy and finished third in the Ladies' standings. Sticking with Fiat one-make series, she contested the Seicento Trophy in 1998, and won the Coupe des Dames ahead of Cora de Adamich. She may have entered the 1999 Monte Carlo Rally in a Cinquecento, although her name may have been recorded as "Giuseppe" not "Giuseppa".

Luisa Zumelli - driver and co-driver from Italy, active from the early 1980s to 2004. She drove in five San Remo rallies between 1991 and 1998, with a best finish of 23rd, in 1994 and 1995. She usually drove a Ford Escort Cosworth. Later, she concentrated on Italian national events. Her best finish is second, driving a Renault Clio RS on the 2003 Rally del Salento. She has also competed in the Mille Miglia, Targa Florio and Costa Smeralda rallies, using the Clio, the Escort and an unlikely rally car in the Rover 216. Her results have been variable, with a few top-twenty places as well as her 2003 runner-up spot. In 2013 and 2014, she drove a Porsche and an Opel Kadett in historic rallies, in Italy and Morocco.

(Image from

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