Friday, 3 September 2010

Female Rally Drivers After 1950: Spain and Portugal



Isabel Ramos

There are not many Spanish drivers on my list as yet, but this may change in the future. Information about the Spanish Ladies' Rally Championship can be found here. Emma Falcon now has her own profile.

Ligia Albuquerque – Portuguese driver who started off in the navigator’s seat, in 1989. She co-drove mainly for Vasco Campos, before taking the wheel herself in 1998. For two seasons, she rallied in the SEAT Ibiza Cup in Portugal, with a best overall finish of 18th, in the 1998 Casinos do Algarve Rally. After that, she did some cross-country rallying and made occasional appearances as the course car driver in Portuguese rallies, before returning to stage-based competition in 2015. She took part in the Portuguese Ladies’ Trophy, both as a driver, and as a co-driver to Isabel Ramos. Driving a Citroen DS3, she was second in the Praia da Vitória Rallysprint. 

Ana Arche - drove for the Fiat team in 1996. She won the ladies’ award on the Monte Carlo Rally in a Cinquecento, co-driven by Arielle Tramont. She was 61st overall. The year before, she had navigated for Ana Barbero in a similar car, but retired. This was in edition to a full season in the Spanish Cinquecento Cup, and the European Cinquecento Challenge. Later, in 1998, she co-drove for Miguel Fuster in a Peugeot 106 Maxi, in the Spanish championship.

Margarida Barbosa – has competed on and off in Portuguese rallies since 2011. Her first car was a Citroen C2, and it was in this car that she was ninth in her first major rally, the CAM Rally Festival. In 2012, she used three small cars: the Citroen, a Ford Fiesta and a Renault Clio. Her best result came in the Citroen – fourth in the Rali Santo Thyrso. The Clio was also a good car for her, as she achieved three more top-ten finishes in it. Between 2012 and 2014, she did not rally much at all, although she did manage a twelfth place and class win in the Bombeiros Rallysprint in 2014, driving a Citroen DS3. At some point, she did some sportscar racing. In 2015, she contested the Citroen DS3 Challenge. She was third in the championship, with one class win, in the Viana do Castelo Rally. Her best overall finish was thirteenth, in the Sernancelhe Aguar da Beira Rally. 

Angelica Camacho Pellon - runner-up in the Spanish women’s rally championship in 2016. She was mostly driving a Toyota Aygo, and it was her first season of serious rallying. She won the Ladies’ class on the Rally de La Nucía Mediterráneo, finishing 48th overall. Her best rally was the Rallye Ciutat de Xixona, in which she drove a Dacia Sandero, instead of the Aygo. She was 24th overall.


Mariana Carvalho – competed extensively in Portugal between 2009 and 2013, before reappearing in the Portuguese Ladies’ Trophy in 2015. Her first rally car was a Suzuki Ignis, and she was third in the Portuguese Junior championship in 2009. Her best overall was a fifth place, in the Rali Vila Nova de Famalicão. After that, she switched to a Peugeot 206, a car she still uses today. In 2010, she scored her first top –twenty finish, a 17th place in the Rali Cidade de Gondomar, and by 2013, she was a regular top-twenty driver, with a best finish of fifteenth, in the Rali Cidade de Guimarães. After a break, she returned to the stages in 2015. She won the Ladies’ Trophy in the Rali Vidreiro, in which she was tenth overall, and was second in that year's Ladies' championship. She was also twelfth in the Rallye Serras de Fafe. In 2016, back in mixed competition, she was 49th in the Rali BVF de Vila Nova de Famalicao, in a Citroen C2.

(Ana) Sofia Correia - Portuguese driver who appears to have started rallying in 2008, after some years of karting. Her first car was a Skoda Fabia. In 2009, this was upgraded to a Peugeot 206 GTI, and in 2010, she continued to use this car. Her activities are centred around the Madeira Rally Championship, including the Rali Vinho de Madeira, a round of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge. As a Madeira resident, this is her home rally. Her co-driver was Susana Sousa. She did not compete in 2011, but returned in 2012, driving a Citroen C2. She rallied in the Madeira championship, and finished in the top ten in five out of her seven events. In 2013, she was in the top ten for four of her five Madeiran rallies, with a best finish of sixth in the Rali Municipio do Funchal. She was sixth in the Madeira championship. In 2016, she rallied a Renault Clio, and was tenth overall in the Circuito Municipio de Calheta.

Carla Costa – Portuguese driver from the Azores, who won the Azores Ladies Trophy in 2015, driving a Citroen Saxo. She won the Especial Sprint da Rivieira, which was a female-only event, outright, and was third in two more ladies’ rallies. Her 2015 success came after a long lay-off; she was previously active in the Azores championship in 2005, driving a Renault Clio. She competed in the Ladies’ Trophy again in 2016, and won the first two rounds, the Rali Regional Vila Nova and the Rali Praia da Vittoria. A retirement in the third round dropped her to third in the championship. Her navigator for since 2015 has been her daughter, Barbara Costa.

Carolina Costa - competed in the Madeira Rally Championship in 2009, assisted by navigator Rubina Goncalves. Their car was a Group N Renault Clio. During this year, she took part in the Vinho Rali Madeira, a round of the IRC, but retired with mechanical problems. She does not appear to have competed in 2010 or 2011, but was back on the stages in 2012, driving a VW Golf. She appears to have entered the Funchal Rally, but the result cannot be found.

Joana Fernandes - began rallying in 2006, in the Toyota Yaris Cup of Portugal. She soon became one of the leading lady drivers, and continued to a Coupe des Dames in 2007, navigated by Sofia Pereira. In 2008, she switched to a Citroen Saxo, which she has used ever since. Her rally activities are mainly centred around her home island of Madeira, and she has taken part in the Rali Vinho Madeira on four occasions, and had a best finish of 37th in 2007.

Marlene Ferreira – Portuguese driver based in the Azores. In 2015, she began rallying in the Azores Ladies’ Championship, in a Renault Clio. This was exchanged for a Megane after her first rally, the all-female Praia da Vitória Rallysprint. Her best finish was third, in the women-only Especial Sprint da Riviera. She did one rally in the main Azores championship: the Rally Além Mar, in which she was 21st. In 2016, she entered the Azores Ladies’ series again, still driving the Megane. She won the championship, taking two wins in the Riviera and Motorshow rounds. 

Carla Guimarães - Portuguese driver, active in the early 1990s. She drove a Citroen AX in Portuguese rallies in 1991. Although she had some non-finishes due to accidents, her highlight of the year was an eighth place in the Rali Sintrense. She changed the Citroen for a Nissan Sunny GTI-R in 1992, but did not finish either of her major events, due to mechanical trouble. She does not appear to have continued in rallying after 1992.

Hortensia Hernández – drove in Spanish rallies in the 1970s, mostly in the Canary Islands. She took part in the all-female rallies of the period, as well as mixed events. Her first big rally was the Rally Primavera-Las Palmas in 1973, a round of the Spanish women’s championship and an all-female event. She was seventh in a Hillman Imp. Later, between 1974 and 1978, she drove a Simca Rally II, and was eleventh in the mixed Rally Isla de la Palma in 1978. When she competed away from Gran Canaria, it was normally in women-only rallies, with some exceptions. In 1974, she was fourth in the Tenerife Rally, and was also fourth in the Spanish ladies’ championship. In 1975, driving a Simca, she won the Ladies’ Cup in the Rally of Spain, a mixed event. This led to a third place in the womens’ championship. Hortensia is still active in rallying, and was still competing in classic events, in a Talbot, in 2013.

Virginia de León - Canary Islander who rallies a Fiat Punto in her home islands. 2014 appears to be her first year of competition. Mostly, she has taken part in slalom competitions in her rally car, and her best finish has been eleventh , in the Los Caracolitos event. Her best rally finish has also been eleventh, in the Rally Ciudad de Puerto del Rosario. She retired from her other gravel rally, the Rally de Antigua.

Marta Neves – Portuguese driver currently competing in the Portuguese Ladies’ Rally Trophy. She began rallying in 2009, in a Citroen Saxo, and had a best result of ninth in her first season, in the Cidade de Gondomar Rally. In 2008 and 2009, she used a Peugeot 206, and managed another top-twenty finish, 19th in the 2009 Gondomar event. This earned her some points in the Portugal Open championship. After a break, she returned to rallying in 2013, driving a Peugeot 205 and 306 at the CAM Rally Masters Festival, before re-entering the championship, usually driving the 306. Her best result was 23d, in the Guimarães Rallysprint, where she won her class. She also won her class in the União Rallysprint. This was enough for a class runner-up spot at the end of the season. In 2015, she achieved one fifth place in the all-female Praia da Vitória Rallysprint, and a class win, with a 17th place overall, in the Cidade de Guimarães Rally. Her car is a Citroen Saxo. She was fifth in the Ladies' championship. In 2016, still in the SAxo, she switched to mixed competition, and had a best finish of 16th, in the Rali Nova de Cerveira.

Diana Pereira – took part in the Peugeot 206 Cup (Formula Peugeot), as part of the 2006 Portuguese Rally Championship. Her best overall result was 29th, in the Rally of Portugal. Her position within the Peugeot Cup was fourth, another season’s best. She ended the year just out of the top ten. After that, she has not rallied competitively, although she has driven the course car on a couple of occasions, once in a Mitsubishi Lancer. Her navigator is Inês Ponte. Diana is also known as a model.

Isabel Ramos - another Madeira-based driver. As well as the Madeira championship, she has also entered events on the mainland. She has been competing since at least 2002, when she drove a Toyota Yaris in the Rali Vinho Madeira. Much later, in 2007, she reappears with a Citroen C2. The C2 was retained the following year, and used in a number of events, including the Rali Vinho Madeira, until the 2009 Rali da Calheta, when it was changed for a Renault Clio R3. This has been her regular car since then, into 2011. Her best result is 12th, in the 2010 Rali da Calheta. In 2012, she contested the Madeira championship, and was seventh or eighth in all of her events, apart from the Rali Vinho de Madeira, from which she retired. In 2014, she drove the Clio R3 in rallies in Madeira, including Rali Vinho da Madeira, a European championship round. She was twelfth. Her best outright result was fifth, in the Porto Santo Line Rally, and she achieved five more top-ten finishes, many of them class wins. She was the winner of the Portuguese Ladies' Trophy in 2015, after two class wins, and a victory in the all-female Praia da Vitória Rallysprint. In addition to this, she continued to perform strongly in the Madeira championship, winning the Ladies' and RC3 class titles in her Renault Clio. Her best overall finish was seventh, in the ZOOM-TRAP Rally. She defended her championships in 2016, and was eleventh in the Madeira championship, with four top-ten finishes.

Daniela Rodrigues – Portuguese driver who has been rallying since at least 2009. Her first rally car was a SEAT Marbella. Between 2009 and 2011, she was part of the Portuguese Junior championship, finishing ninth in 2011. Her best result was eleventh, in the Santo Thyrso ConVida Rally. In 2012, she was eighth in the same event, driving a Citroen Saxo this time. In the same car, she was fifth in the CAM Rally Festival. Since then, she has continued to rally the Saxo. In 2013, she re-entered the Junior championship, and was fourth, after a thirteenth place in the Cidade de Guimarães. In 2014, she rallied mainly in the Azores, and in 2015, competed in the Portuguese Ladies Rally Trophy. Her best finish was third, in the all-female Praia di Vitória Rallysprint. She was also 16th in the Castelo Branco Rally, and won her class. 

Filipa Sanguedo – Portuguese driver active since 2011. Initially, she mainly entered rallysprints, first in a Ford Escort, then in a Peugeot 306. In 2013, she scored her first top-ten finish, a sixth place in the Mesão Frio Rallysprint, driving the 306. In 2014, she drove an Opel Adam Cup car in Portugal, and achieved three more top-ten finishes, including a ninth in the Rallye Aguiar De Beira Sernancelhe. She was also tenth twice, and won her class, in the Castelo Branco and Mortágua Rallies. This earned her fourth in the Centre Regional championship. In 2015, she rallied both the Adam and the 306, using the 306 in the Portuguese Ladies’ Trophy. She was fourth in the first round, the Praia da Vitória Rallysprint, competing against her usual navigator, Sofia Mouta, and sixth overall in the Trophy. The Adam was her preferred car for other Portuguese rallies. The best of these, for her, was the Águeda Rally, in which she was 18th overall. The Adam was somewhat unreliable in 2016, but it did help her to a seventh place in the Arganil Rally. 

Helena Taberner – active in Spanish rallies since at least 2010. Among her early cars was a Peugeot 205, which she used in between 2010 and 2014. It was replaced by a Citroen Saxo in 2015. She competes in the Catalunya rally championship, driving for the Motor Club Sabadell team. Her best result in 2015 was a 28th place in the Aviá Open Rally. She rallied the Saxo again in Catalunya in 2016, earning another 28th place in the Ciutat de Valls Rally.

Paula Veloso Amaral - Portuguese driver in the 1980s and 1990s. She entered five Portuguese championships, and contested her home World Championship round three times. The first time, in 1988, she was 31st, ninth in Group N, driving a Renault 11 Turbo. She returned in 1993 in a Lancia Delta Integrale 16V and was 26th, again ninth in class. In 1998 she did not finish in her Skoda Favorit. Her co-drivers were Cabral Serrano and Ariana Silva. She now works as a journalist.


Nuria Viñas – three-times winner of the Spanish women’s rally championship, between 1972 and 1974. She used a BMW 2002 Ti, and was especially effective in the women-only rallies organised in Spain in the early 1970s. By this time, she had been competing for quite a while, and before her BMW, she had rallied in a Fiat-Abarth 600, taking part in the Costa Brava Rally in 1967, and finishing 18th overall. Hers was a lengthy career, and she was still active in motorsport in 1978, driving a Ford Escort in hillclimbs in Catalunya. 

“Yolanda” – rather mysterious Spanish driver of the 1970s, whose full name is never recorded. She won the Spanish Ladies’ Rally Championship in 1974, driving a Mini Cooper. This seems to have been her first major season of competition. She was a leading figure in the Spanish women’s rally scene of the time, winning many events. She was third in the 1976 championship. As well as the women-only rallies popular in Spain at the time, she also entered mixed competitions. She was eighth in the Rallye Ciudad de Oviedo in 1974, in the Mini, and fourteenth in the 1975 Rallye Principe de Asturias, driving a Saab 96. Later, she was fifteenth overall in the Rally of Spain in 1977. Her car was a SEAT 1430. That year, she was third in the Ladies’ championship. This improved to second in 1978.

(Image from http://www.raliforum.net/)

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