Saturday, 4 September 2010

Female Rally Drivers After 1950: Sweden

Greta Molander now has her own post.

Frida Axelsson - young driver from a rallying family, who drives a Volkswagen Golf. She started competing in youth rallies in Sweden in 2009, when she was sixteen, after several years of navigation. In 2010, she completely wrote her car off in an accident involving a stone wall, and she sat out the whole of 2011 while it was rebuilt. She started competing in earnest again in 2013, after some 2012 action. Her best result seems to have been a 59th place in the Dan Anderssons Minne Rally, tenth in Group E. In 2014, she upgraded her car and tackled the South Swedish Rally, finishing in 84th place, but winning her class. Her season was affected by a big crash in a rally in Nyköping, which left Frida in hospital. She recovered, and returned to the stages in 2015. Her best result was a thirteenth place in the Emmanuels Minne Rally, driving a Golf. In 2016, she was tenth in the Svenljunga Super Rallysprint, still in the Golf. As well as driving, she still acts as a co-driver on occasion, once to fellow driver, and friend, Jonna Eson Brådhe. Frida is or was part of Ramona Karlsson’s Young Female Drivers mentoring project.

Lina Björklund - currently competes in the Junior class of Swedish rallying. She started her rally career in 2013, in a Volvo 940, and was 53rd in her first event, the LRD-Ruschen. This was enough to attract the attention of Ramona Karlsson, who named her as one of her “Young Female Drivers”, who are being mentored by Ramona. In 2014, she undertook a wide programme of Swedish rallies, and enjoyed a best finish of eleventh, in the Föneruschen event. She also scored three Youth class wins, quite early in the season, and was a strong contender for the championship. She also managed another, separate class win in the Kullingstrofén, and was 75th overall. In 2017, she did not manage many rallies, but was twelfth in the Jamtrallyt, in the Volvo. Prior to taking up rallying, Lina competed on the circuits for three years, in the Renault Junior Cup. In 2012, she was second in the championship, with three wins.

Henny-Britt Ehringe - began her rally career in 1955 in Sweden, but was most successful in the mid-1960s, driving a Volvo 1500 or a Saab. She won many Coupes des Dames in her native Scandinavia, but was also competitive on the Acropolis, coming eighth in 1964 in the Volvo. She used the Saab for the 1963 RAC event, but with less success. As well as driving, she sometimes switched to navigating, and co-drove for Monica Kjerstadius on the Tulip Rally, in 1963.

Jonna Eson Brådhe - supported by the Swedish motorsport authorities in 2013. She started as a teenager, navigating for her father, and began rallying a VW Golf in youth events in 2010. In 2011, she was Sweden’s top female youth rally driver. She earned her driving license in 2012, and used it to enter Swedish club rallies, in a Peugeot 309, with mixed results. The Peugeot was soon replaced by a Subaru Impreza, which was faster, and scored her some decent positions in the Class C Cup. In 2014, Jonna’s activities were somewhat limited. She drove a the Peugeot in the Uppsala and East Sweden rallies, finishing 54th and 61st. Later, she had her first taste of WRC power, albeit as a co-driver,  in a Skoda Octavia, in which she and Nils Jensen were 17th in the Fixussprinten  rally. In 2015, she travelled to the Middle East for the FIA Women in Motorsport Qatar Desert Challenge, competing against other elite female drivers for a spot in the Sealine Desert Challenge. She was not one of the winners. In 2016, she returned to the Swedish championship, driving a Ford Fiesta. She entered the East Sweden Rally, but did not finish. Her car for 2017 was a Peugeot 208. She was sixth in her class in the Swedish championship, with a best finish of 27th, in the East Sweden Rally. She also won her class in the SM Vaakuna Rally, in Finland. 

Carina Hermansson - Swedish snow specialist. She was fourth in the 2003 Swedish Snow Rally, driving a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VI. The same year, she was sixth in the Snapphanerallyt. She began competing in the mid-1990s and has driven Mazda 323s, VW Golfs and Toyota Corollas as well as the Mitsubishi. She often drove for the Skeptune team. Carina made a comeback in 2012, driving a Subaru Impreza. She was very successful in Swedish rallies, with three top-ten finishes in 2012, the best of these being two eighth places, in the Dubbeldalingen and Gestrikekannan events. In 2013, she went one better, and was third in the Offerdalingen snow rally.

Yvonne Hultgren - driver and co-driver active between 1980 and the mid-1990s. By 1980, she was competing on both sides of the car: in Scandianvian rallies in a Volvo Amazon as a driver, and as co-driver to Lars-Erik Torph in a Volvo 142 in WRC events. Later, she navigated for Ove Olofsson. In 1991, she drove in her first WRC rally - the Swedish Rally. Her car was a Lancia Delta Integrale and her co-driver was Anita Jansson. She returned to the Swedish Rally in 1994, co-driven by Susanne Hultgren this time, and was 37th in a Ford Sierra RS Cosworth.

Barbara Johansson - drove a BMC Mini in rallies in the 1960s. She entered the 1963 RAC Rally and was one of the leading female entrants in the 1964 Midnight Sun Rally. She also raced touring cars on the track, in the Swedish championship, still in the Mini. She won a round at Knutstorp and was second at Falkenberg in 1964.

LisBeth Kerttu - rallied an Opel Corsa in Sweden in the early 1990s. Her navigator was always Carina Widerström. She competed in the South Swedish Rally every year between 1991 and 1994, with a best result of 25th, and third in class A6, in 1994. Her best class finish was second, in A6 again, in 1991. She was 35th overall. She drove in one International Swedish Rally, in 1994, when it ran as part of the two-litre championship. She was 33rd, and second in class. LisBeth was a contemporary of Yvonne Hultgren and Susanne Kottulinsky. She is now involved in rally organisation.

Monica Kjerstadius - driver and co-driver active in the 1950s. Her earliest appearance seems to be a women-only rally in 1951, in Sweden. She won Class C, driving a Skoda. In 1956, she drove a Saab 93 in the Viking Rally, with Saga Anderssson. The same year, she navigated Cecilia Koskull to a Coupe des Dames in the Midnight Sun Rally, in a Saab 1959. She almost always competed in Saab machinery. In 1957, she rallied outside Sweden, competing in the Tulip Rally with Margareta Holm as co-driver. In 1958, she won the Coupe des Dames in the Mälaren Rally, and may well have entered the Midnight Sun event. She was definitely third in the Ladies’ standings in the 1959 Midnight Sun event, in a Saab 93. Some time later, in 1962, she reappears as a navigator, to Greta Molander.

Cecilia Koskull - active between 1946 and 1956. She started off in Swedish national rallies, and won three Ladies’ awards in the Swedish championships in succession. By 1950, she was driving a Gmünd-bodied Porsche 356, and that year, she was ninth overall in the Midnight Sun event., with Christina Peyron. In 1951, she drove in the Tulip Rally and the Monte Carlo Rally, the latter with Greta Molander. In 1954, she switched to a Volkswagen, which she used in rallies and reliability tests. She was third lady driver in that year’s Midnight Sun Rally. Her last Midnight Sun Coupe des Dames came in 1956, in a Saab. After that, she had a daughter and retired from motorsport.

Susanne Kottulinsky – Swedish driver of the 1980s and early 1990s with good finishes in class at home and in a couple of WRC events. Her best WRC finish was thirteenth, in the 1986 Swedish Rally. She was driving a Volvo 240. On the European stages, she did particularly well in Germany, recording top-ten finishes in the ADAC 3-Städte, Hunsrück and ADAC Deutschland rallies, between 1987 and 2002. She sampled a number of cars during her long career (over 20 years), but was most competitive in the Volvo, and the Audi 200 Quattro she used in 1987 and 1988.

Lotta Lundqvist - active between 1979 and 1993, during which time she was Swedish Ladies' Champion seven times. Her cars have been almost exclusively Opels, mainly the Ascona and Kadett, and she was part of the Opel team in 1991 and 1992. Lotta competed in Sweden mostly, and also the UK. She drove in four WRC rallies: the Swedish in 1985 and 1987, 1000 Lakes in 1987, and the RAC Rally in 1988 and 1989. She only finished the Swedish events, coming 22nd in an Ascona in 1985 and 18th in a Kadett in 1987, when she also managed fourth in Group A7.

Margareta Melin - rallied in Sweden in the 1950s. She appears to have entered her first Midnight Sun Rally in 1952, at the wheel of a Volvo. She won the Coupe des Dames Later, in 1954, she was second in the Ladies’ standings, driving a Simca. She may have got her start in rallying in a women-only event in Sweden in 1951. Little else seems to be written about her, although she may have initially competed under a different surname.

Brita Norling – mainly known for rallying a Volvo in the 1950s. Her first big international event seems to have been the 1949 Monte Carlo Rally, in which she drove a Buick to 61st place. In 1950, she drove a Volvo PV 444 in the Midnight Sun Rally, and was third in the Ladies’ class. In 1952, she rallied a Hotchkiss, and is recorded as a finisher in that year’s Tulip Rally.

Evelina Olofsson - born in 1993, began rallying in 2011, in youth events. Her first rally car was a Volvo 240. Her senior debut came in 2012, in the Gästabrudstrofén, driving a Vauxhall (Opel) Corsa. Unfortunately, she retired. In 2013, she entered many rallies across Sweden,  with mixed results. Her best finish was a seventh place in the Skutskärsratten, on snow, in January. She was also 24th in the Skogsrundan. Her best class finish was fourth in the Malmjärn Runt. She was 35th overall. In 2014, she continued with the Corsa, and scored another seventh place in her first rally of the year, the Monitorrallyt. Her other top ten of the year was a tenth place in the AD Bildelar rallysprint. One of her best performances was a class win in the South Swedish Rally, finishing 39th overall. She also won her class in the Rallynorduppland, in which she was 15th. Her usual navigator, in 2014, was Paulin Bergqvist. Another season in the Corsa in 2015 gave her tenth in the Swedish Junior championship, competing mainly during the winter. 

Carina Olsson - driver and co-driver active in and around Scandinavia since around 1980. She was ninth in a "Ladies In Action" championship in 1980, driving an Opel Ascona. This car would become her favoured vehicle for some time. She used it in the 1983 Turku Rally, the Köln-Arweiler Rally in Germany in 1984 and the South Swedish Rally. In addition, she may have won a ladies' title in Sweden in 1985. Later, in 1990, she re-appears as a navigator to Lotta Lundqvist. Someone with the same name is still active in classic rallying in Sweden today, as a navigator.

Ingeborg Stille - Swedish driver who rallied in Europe in 1950. She was 135th in the Monte Carlo Rally, driving a Simca, having started in Stockholm. She drove the same, or a similar, car in the Midnight Sun Rally in Sweden. At the time, she was 52 years old. After her rallying adventures, she settled in the French Riviera until her death in 1991.

Erika Söderman – active in Swedish national rallying since 2012, initially in rallysprint events. Her first rally car was an Opel Calibra, and in it, she managed an eighth place in the 2013 Monitorallyt, co-driven by her twin sister, Michelle. She swapped the Calibra in for a more orthodox Astra in 2014, and achieved a second top-ten finish: ninth in the Kåtmyraslaget event. She continued to rally the Astra in 2015, and won her class in the Härjedalsbrickan Söndag rally, and was 36th overall. In 2017, she entered the Astra in another couple of rallies in Sweden, and was tenth in the 66:an event, with a class win. Prior to her rally career, Erika made a name for herself as a stunt driver, specialising in driving a Volvo on two wheels. She started this when she was only fifteen years old.

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