Sunday, 16 January 2011

The Paris—St. Raphaël Rally

Madame Lietard

This rally was the premier female-only motorsport event for most of the twentieth century. In its heyday in the 1950s and 1960s, it attracted works entries from the major manufacturers, and was contested and won by notable drivers like Claudine Trautmann, Marianne Hoepfner and Christine Beckers.

It was started in 1929 by the Count Edmé de Rohan-Chabot, and functioned much the same as contemporary rallies, with speed trials, navigational sections and driving tests. Its route ran between Paris and St. Raphaël in southern France, although there were changes over the forty or so years that it existed, on and off. The last rally was run in 1974, following a decline after the Count’s death in 1972.

Its early phase, prior to WWII, saw entries from drivers of the calibre of Lucy O’Reilly Schell, Amy Johnson, Betty Haig and Yvonne Simon. In 1932, a young Bugatti driver named Renée Friederich was killed on a hillclimb section. For most of the rest of its lifetime, the Rally thankfully avoided such tragedies. In 1969, Cathy Pitt was killed in a head-on crash on a road section, and Marguerite Accarie died in similar circumstances during the final special stage of the 1970 Rallye. Otherwise, the event remained free of such controversy.

Later, after the war, the next evolution of the event attracted the likes of Gilberte Thirion, Annie Soisbault and Lucette Pointet. Anny-Charlotte Verney, Pat Moss, Marie-Claude Beaumont and Michèle Mouton all competed, between then and its demise in 1974. In its last two years of existence, it counted towards the European Rally Championship.

The rally was briefly revived, once, in 1983. It ran in the area around St. Raphaël, and consisted of 16 special stages, over 2060km. The event was supported by Citroen, who were preparing to launch the Citroen Total Trophy for female drivers in 1984. It was dominated by Citroen Visas. The winner, Colette Perrier, drove one, as did the two drivers below her. The rally was not run again for the Trophy proper.

In 2000, the rally was revived as the Rallye des Princesses, a navigational test for female drivers in classic cars. It still attracts the attention of drivers such as Patricia Bertapelle and Vanina Ickx, but it is not the competitive international rally it once was.

Below is a list of outright winners of the original Rally, with class winners and top-three finishers where possible. Tracking down results for this event is very tricky, and the list is probably not complete. Gaps in results lists seem to suggest that the event did not run every year, although this is not necessarily the case. Frustratingly, navigators’ names and car models are often omitted from reports.

1.       “Madame Lietard” (Salmson)
2.       Lucy O’Reilly Schell (Talbot)
3.       “Madame Vivier” (Citroen)
50cc class: Estelle Lang (Rosengart)
1100cc class: Madame Lietard, Marcelle Leblanc (Rally), Albertine Derancourt (Salmson)
1500cc class: Madame Heu (Citroen)
2000cc class: Lucy O'Reilly Schell
3000cc class: Madame Kiss (Whippet)
3000cc+ class: Maria la Caze Noronha (Oakland)

1. Madame Lietard (Salmson)
4-5hp class: Estelle Lang (Rosengart)
6-8hp class: Mme Lietard
10hp class: Simone Gonnot (Citroen)
11-12hp class: "Madame Maillard" (Talbot)
13-17hp class: Renée Friederich (Bugatti)
18+hp class: "Mlle Rouanne" (Guyot)

1.       Estelle Lang (Rosengart)
6-8hp class: Marcelle Leblanc (Peugeot)
9-10 hp class: "Madame Conche" (Mathis)
11-12hp class: Lucienne Radisse (Renault)
13-17hp class: "Mlle Ravel" (Amilcar)
17+hp class: Louise Lamberjack (Fiat)
Coupe de Vitesse: Renée Friederich (Bugatti)

1.       Hellé-Nice (Bugatti T35)
5hp class: Simone des Forest (Rosengart)
6-8hp class: Claire Descollas (Amilcar)
9-10hp class: "Madame Obre"/"Madame Gaillard" (Salmson)
11-12hp class: Hellé-Nice
13-16hp class: "Mlle France" (Renault)
17+hp class: Lucy O'Reilly Schell (Bugatti?)

1.       Marcelle Leblanc (Peugeot)
2.       “Madame Girard” (Delage)
3.       Marie-Jeanne Marinovitch (Voisin)
Coupe de Vitesse: Louise Lamberjack (Peugeot 301)
Braking and Acceleration tests: Louise Lamberjack (Peugeot 301)
Manufacturer’s Prize: Peugeot
6-8hp: Louise Lamberjack (Peugeot 301)
9-10hp: Odette Siko (Alfa Romeo)
11-12hp: “Mme Duluc Taine” (Hotchkiss)
13-16hp: “Mme Panera” (Amilcar)
17+hp: “Mme Stalter” (Lorraine)

1.       “Madame Nenot” (Delahaye 138)
2.       Simone Gonnot (Delahaye 138)

1.       Olga Thibault (Peugeot 201)
2.       Germaine Rouault (Delahaye Sport)
3.       Lucy O’Reilly Schell (Delahaye Sport)

1.       Germaine Rouault (Delahaye 135S)

1.       Germaine Rouault (car not recorded, probably a Delahaye as she drove one elsewhere that year)
2.       Yvonne Simon (car not recorded)
3.       Simone des Forest (car not recorded)

Betty Haig (MG PB) – Category A winner
Suzanne Largeot (Simca ) – Category B winner

1.       Yvonne Simon (Hotchkiss Grand Sport)
2.       Germaine Rouault (Delahaye 135) – win in the Saint-Eutrope hillclimb section
3.       Betty Haig (MG)
Jarmila Kronbauerova (Jawa) - Class B and 750cc class win
Countess Pamela Moy (BMW) - 2200cc class win
Germaine Rouault (Delahaye 135) - over 3000cc class win
Betty Stresa (Simca-Fiat) - Concours d'Elegance win

Hiatus for WWII. The event may have started again in 1947, although no results are known at present, or for any other dates prior to 1951.

1.       Lucienne Alziary de Roquefort (Panhard Dyna)
2.       Yvonne Simon (Ferrari)
3.       Betty Haig (MG)

1.       Yvonne Simon (Renault 1063)
2.       Lucienne Alziary de Roquefort (Panhard Dyna)
3.       Claire Pochon (Renault)

Yvonne Simon (Renault 1063) – overall winner
Paola della Chiesa (Lancia Aurelia) – class win
Sports and Touring cars had their own classes.
Overall standings:
1. Yvonne Simon (Renault 1063)
2. Alexandra Hammersley (Lancia Aurelia)
3. Jane Bagarry/”Mlle de Warren” (Renault 1063).

1.       Yvonne Simon (Panhard Monopole) – also won the 500-750cc class
2.       Lucienne Alziary de Roquefort (Dyna Panhard)
3.       Gilberte Thirion (Porsche 356)
“Madame Cazon”/Gilberte Stempert  (Dyna-Panhard DB850) -  750-1000cc class win
“Madame Achard”/”Madame Desoche” (Peugeot 203) – 1000-1300cc class win
Gilberte Thirion (Porsche 356) – 1300-2000cc class win
Betty Haig (Austin Healey) – 2000-3000cc class win

1.       Marie-Antoinette Chauvin/Maguy Richelme (Renault 1063)
2.       Jane Bagarry (Renault 1063)
3.       Sabine Hertslet/”Madame Schleheck” (Porsche)

No rally held?

1. Yvonne Simon (Panhard Monopole)


No rally held?

1.       Annie Soisbault/Renée Wagner (Triumph TR3)
2.       Nicole Pizot/Lucette Pointet (DB Panhard)
3.       “Madame Langlois”/”Madame Gesmier” (car not recorded)

1.       Gabrielle Renault/J. Pivoit (Renault Dauphine Gordini)
2.       A Nioncelle/Ginette Desrolland (Renault Dauphine Gordini)
3.       A Kissel/N Kissel (Panhard)

1.       Lucette Pointet/”Madame Dutel” (Citroen DS 19)
2.       Gabrielle Renault/”Madame Bivois” (Renault)
3.       Simone Petit/”Mlle Mondolini” (Renault)

1.       Claudine Trautmann (Lancia Flavia Coupe)

1.       Claudine Trautmann (Lancia Flavia Zagato)

1.       Claudine Trautmann (Lancia Fulvia Coupe Rallye HF)

1.       Claudine Trautmann/Catherine Piot (Lancia Fulvia Coupe Rallye HF)

1.       Claudine Trautmann/Hanrioud (Lancia Fulvia Coupe Rallye HF)
2.       Marie-Pierre Palayer/E Perrier (BMW 2002)
3.       Marie-Claude Beaumont/"Jonchere" (Chevrolet Camaro)
4.       Gabrielle Renault/"Cora" (Alpine-Renault)
5.       Paulette Delcros/Francoise Prud'hommes (Alpine Renault)
National Rallye: Marianne Hoepfner (Alpine-Renault)

1.   Marie-Pierre Palayer/E Perrier (Porsche)
2.   Lucette Pointet/Lucette Veron (Ford Capri)
3.   Pat Moss-Carlson/Liz Nystrom (Lancia Fulvia HF)

  1. Marie-Claude Beaumont/Marie-Madeleine Fouquet (Chevrolet Camaro)
  2. Marianne Hoepfner/J Roussely (Alpine Renault)
  3. Claudine Trautmann/Marie-Odile Desvignes (Alpine Renault)
  4. Marie-Pierre Palayer/E Perrier (Porsche 911 S)
  5. Michele Vallet/M Rodt (Alfa Romeo
National Rallye: Annick Girard/Francoise Conconi (Alpine Renault)
Production Touring: Marie-Claude Beaumont (Chevrolet Camaro)
Special Touring: Michele Vallet (Alfa Romeo)
GT: Marie-Pierre Palayer (Porsche)
Special GT: Marianne Hoepfner (Alpine Renault)

1.       Marianne Hoepfner/Christine Fourton (Alpine Renault A110)
Class win: Michele Vallet/Mme Penot (Alfa Romeo 2000 GTV)

1.       Marianne Hoepfner/Yveline Vannoni (Alpine Renault A110)
2.       “Charlotte”/Marie-José Hommel (Alpine Renault A110)
3.       Marie-Pierre Palayer/M-F Helly (Alpine Renault A110)

1.       Christine Beckers/”Biche” (Michele Espinosi-Petit) (Lancia Stratos)
2.       Anny-Charlotte Verney/”Legou” (Porsche 911 Carrera RS)
3.       Donatella Tominz/Gabriella Mamolo (Fiat Abarth 124 Rally)
Group 1: Corinne Tarnaud (Alfa Romeo 2000)
Group 2: Monique Bourdon (Opel Kadett)
Group 3: Michele Mouton (Alpine-Renault)
Group 4: Anny-Charlotte Verney (Porsche)

  1. Dominique Perrier/"Drouilleau" (Citroen Visa)
  2. Florence L'Huillier/"Camandona" (Citroen Visa)
  3. Sylvie Seignobeaux/Brigitte Ayme (Citroen Visa)

This list has been compiled using data posted by members of the TNF and Forum Auto forums. Also thanks to Colin Butchers.

(Image source Auto)


  1. I had never heard of this event until now ! I'd love to have seen Yvonne Simon in the Panhard Monopole that was a seriously futuristic vehicle :-
    Thanks for sharing your research

  2. Hi, I'm the organizer of the Princesses' rally. I am very happy to present my event that's running from 12 years now!
    Know that each year we make a lunche-stop at the Comte Rohan-Chabot castle in Provence and are friend with his women family !

    More information on our web site :

    Its origins
    Viviane Zaniroli is a passionate fan of classic automobiles and road rallies.
    Over the years, she noticed that women, who massively participate in these exciting events, are often relegated to playing the role of co-pilot.
    She wanted women to have be able to take the wheel, to be the star, to live the adventure more fully. So, to make this dream come true, she drew her inspiration from the Paris - Saint Raphaël (1929 -1974) and created the fabulously original Princesses’ Rally in the year 2000.
    Appealing to women’s natural sense of elegance and competitive spirit, the Princesses’ Rally has become a “must” in the international women’s motor sport world in just ten short years!

    A women’s rally
    Only women are allowed to be the drivers in this event. However, men are allowed to join in the fun, as the ladies’ co-pilots.
    Therefore, two types of crews can participate: 100% female, or mixed (ladies at the wheel and gentleman by their side).
    The participants are all motivated by the same desire to have a good time in a friendly, easy-going competition.
    For them, this rally is the perfect opportunity to get their minds off their daily routines and away from the mundane stress of today’s busy lifestyles.
    It’s a chance to meet other interesting women equally excited by classic cars, adventures and good clean fun.

    A regularity rally
    The goal in this type of event is to stay as close as possible to the targeted average speed while covering a set distance along a scheduled itinerary.
    High speed “racing” capabilities are thus not part of the selection criteria. Winners are those who manage to navigate their way through the course while carefully maintaining the ideal average speed.
    The ideal average speed is determined based on the vehicle’s age, so that older cars can effectively compete with younger models.
    A Regularity Rally is an athletic challenge that requires considerable focus and concentration with a keen sense for precise details and extreme accuracy.

  3. Hi Viviane, thanks for the information.
    I did consider entering the Rallye one year in my Wolseley, but I couldn't quite afford it.

    Art - have you ever seen a Monopole in action? They're really quite crazy-looking, and I seem to remember that their engine noise is quite strange as well.