Friday, 9 September 2011

Germaine Rouault


Germaine and Odette Siko with a Salmson

Germaine Rouault raced in sportscar and Grand Prix races from the 1930s to the 1950s, as well as competing in rallies, as a driver and co-driver.

She was born in 1905, in France. Other biographical details are not forthcoming, and she was not often photographed, either.

Her racing activities included two attempts at Le Mans, in 1938 and 1950, which both ended in retirement. In 1938, she drove an Amilcar Pegase with Fernande Roux. They lasted 101 laps. In 1950, her team-mate was Régine Gordine, and her car an 1100cc Gordini-engined Simca.

Her earliest motorsport experience appears to have come in a Salmson, in 1933. She drove with Julio Quinlin in the Monte Carlo Rally. They also drove together in the same event in 1934. Some time early in her career, she appears to have competed with Odette Siko, probably in a rally, in a Salmson. The date of this is very unclear, but it is likely to be 1934.

Her career received a lift in 1935, when she raced Delahayes alongside Lucy O'Reilly Schell. Her first event was the Paris-St. Raphaël Rally in a Delahaye, probably a 135CS, with Lucy, who was then heavily involved with the Delahaye marque. They were second overall. The same year, she entered her first Grand Prix, the Marne GP, at Reims, in the Delahaye 135CS. She was fourth in the three-litre class, one behind Lucy.

In 1936, she drove the 135CS, which appears to have been her own car, in the Marseilles three-hour race. She was ninth out of fifteen finishers, although 28 drivers started. The quality of the opposition was high, and included Laury Schell, René Dreyfus and Albert Divo. It is likely that she entered the Paris-St. Raphaël, too, almost certainly in the same car. The following year, she won the event, probably still using the Delahaye.

The Paris-St. Raphaël was not her only activity in 1937: driving her own 135Cs once more, she entered the Marseilles 3-hour race and revisited the Marne GP. She was seventh in Marseilles, but did not finish at Reims due to an accident. Again, both races were against strong opposition.

In 1938, we see her next well-documented experience in a major mixed-entry rally. She won the Coupe des Dames of the Monte Carlo Rally, driving a Matford with a Madame d’Herlique. In addition to her first Le Mans experience, sportscars were definitely on the menu. Driving the Delahaye with Anne-Cécile Rose-Itier, she scored what was probably the best result of her career: third in the Paris 12 Hours.

At this point, the worsening situation in Europe meant that there was little circuit racing, although the winter rallies carried on to start with. Back in the Matford, Germaine entered the 1939 Monte Carlo Rally with Madame Bagarry as navigator. Driving solo in the Delahaye, she also entered the Critérium Paris-Nice road race, but did not finish. She entered the Paris-St. Raphaël once more in the Delahaye, and won the Saint-Eutrope hillclimb stage.

The next time we come across Germaine is in 1948. She returned to the Paris 12 Hours, this time driving an 1100cc Simca with Emmanuel Baboin. Unfortunately, she was only 27th this time. In 1949, back in a now-elderly Delahaye, she and Yvonne Simon drove in the Spa 24 Hours. They were eleventh, and won their class.

In 1950, Germaine’s name begins to appear on rally entry lists once more. Driving a Simca Eight with Régine Gordine, she won the Coupe des Dames on the Monte Carlo Rally, finishing sixteenth overall. The same pairing would tackle Le Mans later in the year.

The following year, it seems that she took a break from competition, but she returned in 1952. Making the trip over to Morocco, she raced in the 12 Hours of Casablanca with Gilberte Thirion. Their car was Gilberte’s Porsche 356. Sadly, the gearbox went and they did not finish. Germaine also renewed her partnership with Régine Gordine for the Tour de France. They were nineteenth overall in a Renault 4CV.

At this point, Germaine’s competition career really starts to wind down. She is described in some sources as a rally co-driver, and she may have co-driven in some rallies in France in the 1950s. The results of these are proving elusive, as is data about Germaine herself. She certainly made a comeback for the Monte in 1956, driving a Simca with Louisette Texier and Annie Soisbault.

It is known that very early in her career, she was one of the founding members of the French independent drivers’ association, alongside Anne Itier and Jacques Delorme.

(Picture found at http://www.forum-auto.com/)

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