Saturday, 4 September 2010

Female Rally Drivers After 1950: The Rest of Europe

Ekaterina Stratieva in her IRC Citroen C2

This post lists some drivers from the other countries of Europe. This has previously included Turkey, which now has its own page, Poland, Russia and Switzerland. Inessa Tushkanova now has her own post.

Elena Apostolova - Bulgaria’s leading female driver in the 1980s and early 1990s. As she was active during the Communist era, her cars were always VAZ Ladas. Her career began in 1972, driving a Trabant with her husband Stoyan. She competed in Bulgaria itself, including the Albena Rally which was a round of the ERC, and sometimes in Yugoslavia. Her best finish was probably a 25th place in the 1985 Rally Vida, also an ERC counter. Both of her daughters, Pavlina and Gergana, are involved in rallying. After her retirement, Elena began organising a women-only rally in Bulgaria. In recent years, she has returned to co-driving for Stoyan.

Gergana Apostolova - rallied in Europe in the 1990s. She is from a notable Bulgarian rally family and began her career as navigator to her father, Stoyan. This was a job she alternated with her sister, Pavlina. In 1996, she began driving herself, and competed in Germany. She was 59th in the ADAC 3-Städte Rally, driving a Suzuki Swift. In 1997, she drove a Ford Ka in the Monte Carlo Rally’s Prince Albert Challenge. Unusually, her navigator was her mother Elena, an experienced driver herself. They did not finish. “Geri’s” best overall result was 29th in the 1997 Rally Albena. Her car was a Nissan Sunny and Elena was co-driving once more.

Daria (Dasha) Bakai – Ukrainian driver who rallies a Subaru Impreza in her home championship. She began rallying seriously in 2014, and competed extensively in both the Ukrainian championship and the Kherson Cup. Her best result was a sixth place, in the Kozatske Rally, but her most prestigious result was probably her tenth place in the Galicia Rally. This was her second top-ten of the year, after another tenth in the Skhydnytsia Rally. She was fourth in class in the Ukrainian championship. In 2015, she was still rallying the Impreza. Her best result was a sixteenth place in the Yedyna Krayina One Country Rally. In 2016, she performed well in Ukrainian championship rallies. She was seventh in the Golden Fall Rally in the Impreza, and eighth in the Khersonske Rally, in a Peugeot 206. She also travelled to Belgium for the 6 Hours of Kortrijk, driving a Ford Fiesta. In 2017, she rallied a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X in a limited programme. She was third in the XADO DRC rally and fourth in the Rally Kuyainik.

Sonja Bastar - Yugoslavian driver of the late 1970s and early 1980s. Between 1979 and 1981, she rallied at least two different Zastava models in Eastern European rallies, usually in Czechoslovakia. The Zastava was one of the least powerful cars available to Eastern Bloc drivers. Her best result came in 1981, when she was 44th in the Tatry International Rally, in modern Slovakia. She also participated in at least three runnings of the Barum Rally. As well as her Czechoslovak adventures, she also appears to have competed in the Delta Rally, in modern Croatia, at least once.

Zulikhan Bidzhanova – Ukrainian driver who competes in her home country. Her car is a Peugeot 205. She began rallying in 2013, and in her first year, was fifth in the Rally Crimea Legend event. In 2016, she scored the third top-ten finish of her career, finishing ninth overall in the Rally of Galicia. She was twentieth in the 2016 Ukrainian championship, and seventh in the Ukraine Rally Legends championship. In 2017, she was thirteenth in the Rally Bukovyna. 

Birgitte de Bourbon - Danish driver who rallied in the early 1960s, in different cars. She won the Coupe des Dames in the 1961 Danfoss Midsummer Rally, in an Austin Futura. Her co-driver was Annelise Schønwandts.  At some point in the mid-1960s, she also took part in the Monte Carlo Rally, although further details are hard to come by. She was married to Prince Jacques of Bourbon-Parma, who was also a rally driver. Birgitte sometimes acted as his navigator. She continued to be involved in motorsport after his death in 1964, in a road accident. In 1973, she is reported to have taken part in a classic rally event, but again, further details are not forthcoming.

Mirela Bucovicean - Romanian driver who campaigns a Ford Escort RS2000 in her country’s historic championship. In 2017, her best result was an eighteenth place in the Roumanie Historic Winter Rally. She has also finished the Transilvania Rally, in 46th place, against both historic and modern cars. Her co-driver is Georgiana Gologan. Mirela works in the fashion industry in Romania.

Alina Carmina Bunica - former karter from Romania. She began rallying in the Dacia Rally Cup in 2007, driving a Logan. She finished the year second in the Rookie standings. Since then, she has moved into the Romanian championship proper, driving a Citroen Saxo VTR and Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 8. The Saxo was her main car, which she used in 2009 and 2010. She managed two rounds of the Romanian championship in 2011, but had to pull out.

Michaela Debnárová - Slovakian driver, active since 2012. She drives one of two versions of the Peugeot 206, and her navigator is Nikola Zemanová. During her first year, she rallied in Slovakia, with a best result of 19th, in the Rallye Tatry. She was third in class. In 2013, she also did one rally in Hungary -  the Eger Rallye. She was 57th, but the 20th Slovakian driver. Out of her other five Slovakian events, she retired from three, usually due to mechanical problems, but she was fifteenth in the Rally Tríbeč, runner-up in class six. After a break, she returned to competition in 2016, driving a Skoda Fabia and a Ford Fiesta in Slovakian rallies. Her best finish was 27th, third in class, in the Lubenik Rally, in the Fiesta. She was 26th in the 2017 Slovakian championship, driving a Renault Clio. She posted two top-twenty results, the best of these being a 15th place in the Rally Kosice. 

Oda Dencker-Andersen - Danish driver. She competed in Europe and further afield throughout the 1970s, initially as a navigator (from the mid-60s), but more and more as a driver as time progressed. She often navigated for Hannelore Werner in major rallies. One of her driving achievements was a class win on the 1973 BNU Rally in South Africa, in a Datsun 1200 GX. She went on to drive in the RAC Rally in 1976 and 1977, in Opel models. In 1980, she co-drove Marianne Hoepfner to second overall in the Himalayas Rally, in a Toyota Celica.

Louk Heidendahl – Dutch driver who was active in the 1960s. She was a regular on the Tulip Rally, and first entered in 1960, driving a DKW Junior with Ida de Fouw. The same pairing were 29th in 1961, this time driving a Saab 96. In 1962, she was fourth in the Ladies’ standings, and 59th overall, in the Saab, with erstwhile driver, Diana van Strien, on the maps. It was back to the DKW in 1963, but a change to an Alfa Romeo Sprint Veloce in 1964 brought her a pleasing 25th place. In 1965, she moved over to the co-driver’s seat, with Joop Heidendahl, in a Mercedes. She seems to have stopped rallying after that.

Viktoria Hojas - Austrian driver who has been in the driving seat since 2014. She started off as a co-driver a year earlier. Her car has always been an Opel Corsa. In 2015, she was runner-up in the Austrian Opel Corsa Cup after winning her class in the Liezen Rally. She was 21st overall, her best finish of the year. She has also been a state rally champion in Austria. She contested the 2017 Austrian championship in the Corsa.

Victoria Garkova - Bulgarian driver who started competing around Eastern Europe in 2017. Her car is a Hyundai r20 Coupe and she contested the Hyundai Trophy, as well as the Romanian junior championship and a Turkish rally. In terms of major events, her best result has been a 27th place in the Rally of Bulgaria, assisted by Velislava Pavlova. Her best outright finish was 15th in the Tvardica-Elena Rally. She was fourth in the Hyundai Trophy standings.

Tsvetomira Georgieva - rallies a Renault Clio, mainly in her home country of Bulgaria. She began competing in major rallies in 2009, and posted top-twenty finishes from the beginning, with a fifteenth place in the Rally Trayanovi Vrata. She also finished her first rally abroad, the Prime Yalta Rally in Ukraine. In 2010, she was ninth in the Hebros Rally, and finished the Vida Rally in fourteenth. Her other events, including the Serbia Rally, ended in DNFs. In 2011, she only managed two major rallies, including the IRC-counting Prime Yalta Rally, which she did not finish due to mechanical problems. She was also twelfth in the Rally Stari Stolici. She did not compete after that, and died in early 2015, aged 33.

Patricia Grigorescu – Romanian driver who competed in the Romanian Dacia Logan Cup in 2008. Her best result in the Cup was a seventh place, in the Tara Barsei Seat Rally. She was 38th overall, which was also her best outright finish that year. Her season was plagued by car unreliability, and she only finished half of the rallies she entered. She was sixteenth in the Logan Cup. This was her only season of rallying; Patricia is normally a hillclimb driver, who scored two class wins in 2008. She continues to compete with the Logan in the N2 class, when funds allow. In 2009, she also tried rallycross in France.

Gorana Hunić – Croatian driver who has been competing since 2007, when she was 30. Initially, she took part in hillclimbs, after learning to drive as a pre-teen. Her first stage rally was the Rally Poreč, in which she co-drove a Peugeot 306 with Drazen Pigl, but did not finish. Her first rally as a driver was the 2007 Rally Istra, and she drove a Renault Clio Williams to 31st place. For the next few years she mainly co-drove for other drivers, and her own career behind the wheel did not take off until 2015. That year, she drove a Ford Focus in the Croatian championship, and was third in her class. Her best individual rally result was 17th, in the INA Delta Rally. She continued to rally the Focus in 2016, for the AK INA Delta team. Her best rally was the INA Delta Rally again, in which she was 20th. She was the Croatian Ladies' champion that  year, a title she retained in 2017. The INA Delta Rally was once more her best event, giving her 25th and sixth in class.  

Jovana Jovanović - Serbian driver, now competing on a Swiss license, who has been competing in the Balkans and Eastern Europe since 2012. For her first season, 2012, she drove in Serbian rallies, and had four top-ten finishes, including a seventh place in the Zlatiborski Rally. She branched out in 2013, and did some events in Croatia and Bulgaria. Her best result was tenth in the Rally of Bulgaria, a European championship round. She also won her class in the Beogradski Rally in Serbia, and the Stari Stolici and International Hebros rallies in Bulgaria. Her car was a Volkswagen Polo. She exchanged this for a Citroen C2 for 2014. It was a good move: she scored two third places, in the Rally Jahorina and the Beogradski Rally. She was also tenth in the Rally of Bulgaria, a European Trophy round. She was sixth in the Serbian championship. In 2015, she moved to Switzerland, and rallied the C2 there. She was eleventh in the Swiss junior championship, after a season affected by mechanicals and accidents. Her best result was 44th overall, in the Critérium Jurassienne. 

The Countess von Limburg-Stirum (Marie) – competed in rallying before and after the Second World War. Her first attempt at the Monte Carlo Rally seems to have been in 1937, co-driving a Ford with Miss van Vredenburgh. They were fourth in the Coupe des Dames rankings. Driving herself, with von Vredenburgh on the maps, she was twelfth in the 1949 Monte, and won the Coupe des Dames, still in a Ford. The Ford was brought out again for the 1950 Monte. The Countess got to the finish in 131st place, assisted by Mrs. Stahl Wytema. In April of that year, she was part of a four-woman team in a Ford Vedette, in the Tulip Rally.

Mira Nikolic - Croatian driver active between 1969 and at least 1986. She was a multiple Croatian ladies’ champion, winning the mixed crews’ award three times, and the ladies’ title twice. She won the all-female INA Rally six times between 1972 and 1985, and took part in eighteen editions of that event, as well as other women’s rallies, and countless other rallies in Croatia and greater Yugoslavia. Her car was usually an NSU TT, even when it became rather old. As well as a driver, she was a performance driving instructor for many years, and chaired at least one motor club. She died in 2013, at the age of 72.

Cristiana Oprea - rallied in the Dacia Logan Cup in Romania in 2016. She was thirteenth in the Cup standings, with a best finish of 40th, in the TESS Rally. She was also ninth in the Romanian junior championship. That season, she also did some navigating, in Romanian rallies, for different drivers. 2016 was her second season of competition, after trying both driving and co-driving in 2015. Sticking with Dacia, she drove a Sandero in the 2017 Romanian championship. Her best result came on the Molduvel Bacau Rally: 25th overall and sixth in class. She was born in 1992, and works as a freelance PR agent.

Klavdija Senica - Slovenian driver who competes in rallies in the Balkans, and sometimes further afield in Europe. Her first rallies were in 2011, and her first finish was a 22nd place in the Martinski Rally, in Croatia. Her car was a Fiat Panda. In 2012, she broke into the top twenty, in the Rally Maribor (she was 19th), then the top ten, in the Rally Idrija. She also took part in her first Croatian rally, in Poreč, but did not finish. In 2012, she started the year with a seventh place in the Rally Kumrovec, in Croatia. At the end of the season, she was ninth in the Poreč Rally. In between, she entered the Lavanttal Rally in Austria, and the Rally del Friuli Venezia Giulia, in Italy, finishing the Italian event. She was 20th in the Croatian championship. In 2014, she continued to rally the Panda in the Balkans. Her best finish was 17th, in the Rally Nova Gorica. 2015 was a quieter year, with her only major rally being a second try at the Nova Garica Rally. She was 40th overall in the Panda, and won her class. 

Lada Soustova - Ukrainian driver who has competed since at least 2005, always using a ZAZ 1102 Tavria (a Lada model). Her co-driver is usually Alina Soustova, presumably her sister. Her schedule in the Ukrainian championship usually takes in the Prime Yalta Rally and the Rally Chumatskiy Shlyah. Her best overall finish has been fifteenth, in the 2008 Rally Mariupol. In 2012, her best result was 17th, in the Rally Chernomor. She was 36th in that year’s Cup section of the Ukrainian championship. Her best 2013 result, out of five events, was 25th in the Express Auto Rally. In 2014, she only entered one rally, the Tmutarakan Rally in Russia. She drove the ZAZ, but did not finish. In 2016, she rallied the ZAZ in Russia, finishing seventeenth in the Rally Adygeya. She had a new co-driver, Anne Kachka. The Tikhiy Don Rally was her only event in 2017. Driving the ZAZ, she was eleventh overall. 

Christina-Myrto Stathaki – Greek driver who rallied internationally between 2000 and 2007. She competed in the Acropolis Rally six times, with a best finish of 46th place, in 2000, driving a Toyota Corolla. She started her career in a one-make series for the Fiat Cinquecento, in 1996. By 1997, she was among the top ten in the championship. Her best result was a fourth place, in 1998, at Megara, and she was seventh in the final standings. After that, she rallied Toyotas for a few seasons, including a Starlet, Yaris and the aforementioned Corolla. This was her main car in 2002, when she took part in a wide programme of Greek rallies. Her best surface was gravel, and she managed a 25th place overall in the Agrafon Rally. After this, she became more of an occasional driver. In 2006 and 2007, she drove a Peugeot 206. She is the only Greek female driver of the modern era.

Diana Stoyanova - Bulgarian driver who usually uses a Citroen Saxo VTS. Her first rally seems to have been a women-only event in 2007. She has been competing in national and international rallies in Bulgaria since 2010, including the Rally of Bulgaria itself in 2012, although she did not finish. The Hebros Rally has given her her best results so far: eleventh in 2010 and twelfth in 2011. In 2012, she did not finish any major events, although she entered at least three. In 2013, she was thirteenth in a Rallysprint event in Greece, driving the Citroen. In addition to rallying, Diana also competes in hillclimbs in the Citroen, and has concentrated on this in recent years. A return to the stages in 2016 gave her the Bulgarian ladies' title, driving a Saxo. She won her class on the Serbia Rally, and was fifteenth overall. In 2017, she only ran a limited programme in the Saxo, and did not retain her title.

Diana van Strien – Dutch driver who competed in the Tulip Rally on at least three occasions, between 1960 and 1962. The first two rallies were as a driver, in a Renault Gordini, and she was co-driven by Truus van der Voorst Vader. In 1962, she was the co-driver to Louk Heidendahl, another Dutchwoman, in a Saab 96. Diana was from a motorsport family, and the 1960 Tulip Rally was not her first involvement with the sport. She is recorded in 1957 as taking part in the Vaals hillclimb, a round of the Dutch Touring Car Championship, in a Ford Taunus. She was second in class, and defeated her mother, whose name is not given. Diana may well have co-driven for her mother in rallies at about this time.

Joana Survilaitė - Lithuanian driver who is the only regular female driver in the Baltic states. From the beginning of her career, in 2011, she has rallied throughout the Baltic region, although that year, she only finished one event, the Saaremaa Rally in Estonia. Her car was a Renault Clio. It was changed for a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX in 2012, which gave her a mixed set of results, the best being eleventh, in the Rally Classic Druskinkai and twelfth in the Saulé Rally, both in Lithuania. Her other four results were mostly outside the top twenty. In 2013, she kept the Lancer, which is painted a distinctive pink colour, and added Poland to her rally schedule. She was the ninth Lithuanian finisher, although she does not seem to have been classified in the main results. Her best result by far was sixth place in the Saulé Rally, her first top ten. She had one other top-twenty finish, fourteenth in the Vilnius Rally. In 2014, she contested the Lithuanian championship again, in the Lancer. She retired from the Halls Winter Rally. Her regular navigator is her mother, Vesta Survilienė

Lana Sutlović - Croatian driver and co-driver who has been competing, mainly in Croatia and Slovenia, since 2004, initially as a navigator. She began driving seriously in 2007, in a Ford Ka, although she only finished one of her six rallies, the Meðimurski Rally. In 2008, she gained her first top-twenty finish, a 17th place in the Karlovački ORC Rally. Her finishing record was much better this year, still in the Ka. In 2009 and 2010, she competed less as a driver, mostly still in the Ka, and usually finishing just outside the top twenty. For the 2010 Rally Novi Vindolski, she changed to a Peugeot 106, and was 21st. In 2011, she only did one major rally, the Croatia Rally, and she was 29th. After that, she co-drove for a couple of different Balkan-based drivers in 2012, and moved to co-driving full-time in 2015. 

Sidonia Tatoiu - Romanian millionaire media personality who did a season in the Romanian Rally Championship in 2011. She drove a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX or X in five events. She was 19th in the championship, with a best finish of fifteenth, and twelfth in class, in the Tirgu Mures Rally, beating the more experienced Alina Carmina Bunica and future ERC ladies’ champion, Ekaterina Stratieva. She also managed two more top-twenty finishes, both 16th places, in the Tess Rally Brasov and Sibiului Rally.

Maila Vaher - Estonian driver, active since 2010, although she co-drove for different drivers between 2006 and 2008. Between then, she seems to have done some junior rallies in a Honda, but details are not forthcoming. As a senior driver, she always uses a Nissan Sunny GTi, and is navigated by Karita Kivi. She has competed in four Saaremaa Rallies, with a best finish of 63rd, in 2013. Her best overall result so far came in the 2012 UKU Mulgi Rally, where she was 23rd. She was also 29th in the 2013 Rally Võrumaa Suvi, a rallysprint event. This event was her best one in 2014, too, and she was 18th. The Sunny was less reliable this year, and it also let her down during the 2015 Tartu Rally. Her best finish was a 43rd place, in the Harju Rally. Maila's favoured surfaces are gravel and ice.  

Asja Zupanc - Slovenian driver, now competing across Europe. She began as a navigator in 2006, sitting beside Boris Pozeg. She began rallying seriously as a driver in 2009, using a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX. In events across Europe, she managed to get into the top twenty, with a best finish of eleventh in the Slovenian Rally Primorje Ajdovscina. In 2010, in the same car, she improved dramatically, with five top-ten finishes in Germany, Slovenia, and Austria. Her best finish was third, in the Rallye Baden-Württemberg in Germany. She was also fourth in the ADAC Drei-Städte-Rallye. Her results left her second in the Mitropa Rally Championship. In 2011, she won the Mitropa championship after being the fastest Mitropa driver in the Baden-Württemburg Rally. Her best overall result was seventh in the ADAC 3-Städte-Rallye. In 2012, she had a smaller schedule, mainly based in Germany. Her best result was seventh, in the ADAC Mobil Pegasus Rallye Sulinger Land. She also managed tenth places in the Sibiului Rally Romania and the ADAC Litermont Rallye. In 2013, she was more active in the Lancer, and managed four fifth places, in Germany and Slovenia. She was also sixth in the ADAC 3-Städte event. In 2014, she rallied the Lancer in Central European Zone events, in the European Championship. She scored three top-ten finishes, including a fifth place in the Fuchs Rallye Velenje in Slovenia, and sixth in the Rebenland Rally in Austria. She was eleventh in the Mitropa championship.

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