Sunday, 20 February 2011

Female Rally Drivers after 1950: the Americas

Nadia and Florencia Cutro, in 2011

Rallying is popular in South and Central America. Recently, female drivers have started to enter the major events.
Below are profiles of some recent rally drivers from the South and Central Americas. Drivers from the USA can now be found here. Nadia Cutro can be found on the Rally Winners post.

Karina Dobal - winner of the 2016 Argentine Federal Rally Class 4 Championship. This was the first time a woman had won a national rally championship in Argentina. Her car was a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VII. She scored three class wins, in the Sulpacha, Chivilcoy and Gualeguay Rallies, and had a best overall finish of second, in the Rally de Leandro N. Alem. In 2015, she rallied a Chevrolet Agile, in the Junior class, and managed class wins at Lavalle and Ciudad de Azul. She also achieved five top-ten finishes. This was only her second season of serious competition, having begun with the Agile in 2014. In 2017, she rallied the Lancer. She was second in the Rally de Lincoln and eighth in the Rally Balcarce.

Yazmin Dyer - Peruvian driver who competed in her home championship in 2010, using a Peugeot 206. She won her national Super 1600 championship after three S1600 class wins. Two of these coincided with top ten finishes: ninth places in the Rally de Arequipa and Rally Claro Huánuco. After 2010, she stepped down to “Nacional” events, taking in the Caminos del Inca event, a long-standing Peruvian rally. In 2011, she drove a SEAT Leon, which she also seems to have driven in that year’s Huánuco Rally and Rally Los Òrganos.

Yinelsy Gamero - rallies a Volkswagen Beetle, mainly in her home country of Peru. In 2018, she seems to have picked up her stage rallying career again, entering asphalt rallies in Peru. She was 15th in the Rally Premio Ciudad de Mollendo and 16th in the Rally Hanss Gamero. Earlier, she competed in Bolivia, coming 38th in the Circuito Mario Mercado Vaca Guzman. In between, she drove the Beetle in the 2016 Inca Trail rally raid, but did not finish. Yinelsy is a former model and beauty queen.

Claudia Gonano – Argentine driver who was somewhat of a media sensation in 2003, when she was the only woman competing in the Argentine national championship, at only 19 years old. She took part in the Fiat Palio Cup, and was fourth in class in her first rally, the Mina Clavero Rally. That year, she was 19th in the Rally de Plaza Huincul, and 25th in the Rally Provincia de la Pampa. Her career in rallying was very short; after this, her name disappears from the entry lists.

Michelle Laframboise – Canadian driver who has been active in both the Canadian and US rally championships, always driving a Mitsubishi Lancer. She began in the Canadian series in 2010. By 2011, she was earning her first top-ten finish, a eighth place in the Tall Pines Rally. The following year, she was ninth in the Tall Pines event, which was her only finish of the year in Canada. She travelled across the border for some rounds of Rally America, and managed one finish: eighth overall, and third in the Open class, in the Sherwood Forest Rally. In 2013, she won the Open class in two American rallies: Sherwood Forest and Finger Lakes. She was second overall at Finger Lakes, and would have won outright but for a penalty. In 2014, she concentrated on Canada again, but only finished once, in the Tall Pines Rally. 

Patricia Pita - Uruguayan driver who rallies in Argentina and her home country. She has been active since at least 2012, when she tackled the Rally del Atlantico in a Renault Clio. For the next season she drove the Clio in Uruguay, but rarely finished an event. The Chevrolet Clio she used in 2014 was more reliable. This year’s best result was 19th, achieved twice in the Treinta y Tres and Paysandu rallies. In 2015, she started to compete in Argentina in a Ford Ka and improved this best finish to 15th, in the Ciudad de Villa Dolores Rally. In 2016, she switched between the two small cars, achieving similar results in each. She was fifth in class in the Argentine championship. She continued to use both cars in 2017, as well as a Volkswagen Gol in which she won her class in the San Juan Rally. In 2017, she was Uruguay’s most successful rally driver. In 2018, she rallied a Ford Fiesta and earned her first top-ten finish, a tenth place in the Punta del Este Rally.

Meliza Prevedello – rallies in her native Argentina. She prefers big, powerful cars, and drove a Subaru Impreza in 2014. Her best finish was second, in the Rally de Londres. She was also seventh in the Rally de Aimogasta y La Costa Riojana. Her car for 2015 was a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX, which she campaigned in the Argentine championship. She was fourth in the RC2N/JR section of the Rally Argentina, which was her best result of the year. She scored another top ten in the Los Glaciares Rally, and was a regular presence in the top fifteen of Argentine rallies. 2016 was a strong year for her, driving the Lancer. She earned a sixth place in the Rally Uniendo Valles de Cordoba, and won her class. Earlier in the season, she was eleventh in the Rally of Cordoba, and was second in class. Her media profile received a big rise due to her Cordoba heroics. In 2017, she got back into the top ten, finishing tenth in the Tafi de Valle Rally. She was also fourteenth in the Rally San Juan and fifteenth in the Catamarca Rally. She started rallying in the Impreza in 2013, and she is nicknamed “Princess” by the Argentine motoring media.

Alicia Reina - has been rallying in her native Argentina since 2008. Her first car was a Fiat 147, which was then replaced by a Fiat Palio. She won her class in the 2008 Salta Rally, one of the first events she entered. She has continued to drive in Argentine rallies through 2009 and 2010, still in the Palio, and is usually in the top three of the 2WD class. Her first IRC outing, the 2010 Rally Argentina, resulted in a 27th place overall, third in group N2 and second in the 2WD class. In 2011, she entered several Argentine rallies in a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX. Her best finish was ninth overall, in the Rally del Surubi-Goya. She rallied the same car, in Argentina, in 2012. Sadly, she did not finish any of her five events, although one was cancelled due to bad weather. She did one rally with the Lancer in 2013, before switching to a Fiat Palio, running in the Junior class. She was 15th overall in the Rally des Misiones, and third junior driver in the Rally Centenario Villa Carlos Paz, 17th overall. She was a rival to Nadia Cutro. In 2014, she entered the Dakar Rally in a Toyota pickup. She finished the rally in 60th place. In 2015, she contested the Dakar again. Stage rallying had not been forgotten in the interim, and she competed in the Vuelta de la Manzana Rally in Argentina, driving a Mitsubishi Lancer to 19th overall. In 2016, she rallied a Toyota SRV in the Dakar once more, but went out on the fourth stage. 

Vanina Schaffer - rallied a Fiat 147 in Argentina, after spending some time as a navigator. She scored some class wins in Argentine rallies in 2009, which appears to be her first season as a driver. In 2010, she does not seem to have entered many major rallies, but may have competed in gliding competitions. One exception was the Rally of Cordoba, where she was the second-fastest female driver. She returned to the stages for 2011, with an appearance in the Zavalla Rally. She did not finish. Since then, she has returned to the navigator's seat for Carlos Maggi. 

Karen Sullca - began rallying in 2018 in Peru. Her car is a Honda Integra. She was the first female finisher in the 2018 Rally Hanss Gamero, beating the more experienced Yinelsy Gamero. In the Circuito Mario Mercado Vaca Guzman, she drove in the Super Turismo class, and was 16th overall.

Jamie Thomas - rallied a Subaru in the USA and her homeland of Canada. Has scored many class wins in "Burnsie", her Impreza WRX Estate, since 2003. In 2004, she was third in the USA ProRally championship, and won her regional title. She has been a class winner in SCCA, NASA and Rally-America competition. In 2008, she was fourth in the National PGT standings and tenth overall in the National rally championship. She came out of retirement for the 2011 Oregon Trail Rally. 

Taissa Wlodkovski - Brazilian driver who rallied in her home country between 2003 and 2007. She started in a Volkswagen Gol, then entered the Peugeot 206 Cup, and used the 206 for the next three seasons. During this time, her best result was a thirteenth place in the Rally de Ouro Branco. In 2007, she switched to a Fiat Palio, with which she scored two top-twenty finishes, both sixteenth places. The best was probably the Rally de Estação, where she was fifth in class as well. She was sixth in Class N2 in that year’s championship.

(image from

1 comment:

  1. Great to hear about grass roots drivers still making a name for themselves in vehicles that have been out of production for 15 years !