Monday, 17 February 2014

Female Drivers in Touring Cars: the Netherlands

Ina van Kooten, Ann Vader and Mabel t'Hooft are congratulated by actress Yoka Beretti after a record attempt at Zandvoort, driving a Ford Corsair, in 1965.

Saloon and touring car racing in the Netherlands has attracted a relatively large number of female drivers since the 1960s. This post has been created from existing content, in an ongoing attempt to make Speedqueens easier to read. New drivers will be added in future. Liesette Braams and Henny Hemmes now have their own profiles.

Lilian Andela - active in Dutch motorsport between the late 1970s and early 1990s. She began her career as a rally navigator, in the 1978 Tulip Rally, in a Datsun. In 1988, she competed in the Dutch Touring Car Championship, in a Talbot Simca Rallye 3, in the Super Touring Group A section. She was not among the front-runners. In 1990 and 1991, she raced in the Citroen AX GTI Cup. In 1990, she was again not among the front-runners, but did quite well in the Ladies’ class. In 1991, the story seems to have been the same, although results from this year are proving hard to track down.

Theresia Balk - raced in the Dutch Tourenwagen Diesel Cup in 2008 and 2009, using a SEAT Ibiza and a BMW 120d. Her results were unspectacular. She was set to drive in the Sport class of the Dutch Supercar Challenge in 2010, in the BMW, but does not appear to have competed very much. Previously, she took part in the Formido Suzuki Swift Cup, finishing in the top ten twice and ending the season 20th overall. In 2006, she raced a powerful BMW E36 in the BMW Ziengs Cup in the Netherlands, but results are not forthcoming. Her earliest major activity was the Formula Woman Nations Cup in 2005, in which she raced a Caterham, although she began in 2003 by testing a Formula Ford at Zandvoort. 

Rianne Bergman – races in the PTC Cup for production cars in the Netherlands. She began racing in 2013, when she was 17, driving for the Lohuis team. Her first car was a Citroen C1, changing to a Toyota Aygo for some of 2014, then back to a Citroen. She won the championship’s Ladies’ Cup in 2014, after really announcing herself in her first year, with a second place in her first race. She was seventh in the combined championship, with a best finish of third. Her best 2015 finish was fourth, at Zandvoort. She was second in the Ladies' Cup, and fifth overall in the championship. She raced a C1 again in 2016, and was fourth in the championship, with two third places. In 2017, she won her first race in the PTC (also known as the City Bug Cup) and was third in the championship.

Eline Braspenning - races in the Dutch Supercar Challenge. Her debut year was 2007, when she drove a in a couple of rounds of the DNTR series, finishing on the podium twice. She moved on to the Supercar Challenge in 2008. Her car for the 2008 season was a BMW Z3 Coupe, and her co-driver was Esra van Elk. They were driving for Eline’s father’s Braspenning Racing team. Their best finish was third, and they were tenth in the Sport class at the end of the year. During the winter off-season, they took part in one round of the Dutch Winter Endurance Championship, in the same car, before returning to Supercars in 2009 with a BMW E36 M3. Eline, now driving with Iman van Schelven, was fifth in the Sport class after six podium finishes and one pole position. She drove in the Supersport class in 2010, in an E46 this time, but it was less reliable, and she could only manage a best finish of fifteenth. Her usual co-driver was her father, Ron Braspenning. In 2011, she competed in Supercars again, but only managed to enter three rounds, still with Ron in the BMW. They were 18th overall. It was a similar story in 2012: driving in the Sport 1 class, she and Ron were tenth, after four races. Their car was still the BMW. In 2014, Eline and her father competed in the Dutch Supercar Challenge together, in a BMW Compact. They performed well, winning a race in the Sport 1 class at the Nürburgring, and finishing second in another, but they were dropped to eleventh place, as they only did a part-season. 

Eva Harkema - drove in the Dutch VW Endurance Cup in 2008, 2009 and 2010. She raced a Golf for her family team, Palmyra Racing, alongside her father, Henk, and brother, Paul. Their best finish in 2010 was eleventh, and they were fifteenth overall. Although they were only 21st in 2009, they scored their best finish to date - ninth. 2008 was very much a learning season, and they were only 36th. In between seasons, they have also raced in the Dutch Winter Endurance Championship. More recently, she has raced in the Renault Clio championship. She was 26th in 2012, after six races with Verschuur Motorsport. She drove the same car in the 2011-2012 Dutch Winter Endurance Series. In 2013, she was twelfth in the Dutch Clio Cup, with a best finish of seventh, at Zandvoort. In 2014, she took part in the Syntix Winter Championship, in the Clio, with Paul Harkema. 

Mabel ‘t Hooft - raced mainly in the Netherlands in the 1960s. She mainly seems to have driven Fiat-Abarth cars, chiefly an 850cc TC model, which she shared with her husband, Dick. Her racing mainly centred on saloon events at National level, but she also took in a few sportscar races in the Abarth. The 1965 GT race at the 1965 Circuit van Zandvoort meeting is a case in point. As well as the Abarth, Mabel drove other cars; one of her best results was a fifth place in a Class B race at the Grand Prix of the Netherlands in 1965, which she achieved in a Ford Corsair GT. 

Amée de Jong (Caron) - winner of the first Ladies’ Cup in the Citroen AX GT Cup, in 1990. She won races outright that year and featured strongly in the mixed standings. In 1992, she found her winning form again, this time in a Suzuki Swift, after a quiet season in 1991, when she some Production racing in a Peugeot 405. She drove in the 1400cc class of the 1992 Dutch Production Car Championship and was second overall. She won two races at Zandvoort, the Pinksterraces round and one of the Interantionale races. She returned for a part-season in 1993, replacing a dismissed driver in the Suzuki works team, but her only race ended in disqualification. She then disappears from the starting lists for quite some time, but she must have kept her Suzuki links, as she made a couple of appearances in the Dutch Touring Car Championship in a Baleno, in 1999.

Danielle Kleyheeg - raced in the VW Endurance Cup in a Golf in the Netherlands in 2009, driving for the Certainty Racing team. She and her team-mates were 28th overall. In 2010, she stayed with the team, and moved into the Toerwagen Diesel Cup. Her car was a BMW 120d. She was 44th overall, again, alongside her team-mates at Certainty. She gained attention due to her car being sponsored by an underwear company. In 2011, she carried on with the Diesel Cup for six races, finishing 37th overall in a BMW 123d. More recently, she has been involved in classic rallying to raise awareness for female cancers.

Ina van Kooten - raced a Glas 1204 TS in the Netherlands in the 1960s. She appears on the entry lists from about 1965, and then the 1204 was upgraded to a 1304. Although she competed up to ETCC level sporadically, she was not especially competitive, and scored few decent finishes. Mainly, she stuck to National level races in the Netherlands, especially at Zandvoort, up until 1968. Away from the track, she may well have owned a scooter dealership at about the same time as she raced.

Nan van Lennep – did some touring car racing in the Netherlands in the 1960s. Her car was an 850cc Mini. She did not finish the 1963 Zandvoort Trophy, but was ninth in the Benelux Cup, also held at Zandvoort. At the time, she was married to Gerard van Lennep, of the famous Dutch racing family. She is better known and a model and actress.

Ellen Sminia - raced a Mini in Dutch Touring Cars in the late 1960s and early 1970s. In 1969, she was eleventh at the Paasraces and eighth in the Zandvoort Formula 5000 meeting. She also entered the Clubraces, but did not finish. In 1970, she drove in the Paasraces, Formula 5000 and Grand Prix meetings but did not finish any of her races. In 1971, she took part in the Formula 3 meeting at Zandvoort, but does not appear to have finished, this time in a Fiat 600D. 

Liesbet Tolman – chiefly a motorcycle racer, who has competed in the Netherlands since at least 2008, and also in the European Road Racing Championship. In 2015, she raced in the PTC Cup in the Netherlands, scoring points in six races. The best of these was an eight place finish. She was third in the Ladies Cup. Her car seems to have been a Toyota Aygo.

Thea de Vos – Dutch driver who raced a Renault Clio in the DNRT championship in the Netherlands. She won at least one race in 2006, at Zolder, and another in 2005. That year, she was ninth in the Sport class of the championship. She continued to race the Clio in the same series in 2007, and was still competitive, with top ten finishes. Her career seems to end there.

Elisabeth Wagenaar – raced in the Dutch touring car championship (NTK) in the 1980s. She first appears in the final round of the 1980 season, in a VW Golf. This would become her signature car. She did almost a full season in 1981, with a best finish of fourteenth, in the Trophy of the Dunes. 1982 was rather an indifferent year, still in the Golf, but with sponsorship from Samsonite in 1983, she became more consistent, and managed her first top ten at the Pinksterraces – a tenth place. Although she scored well in class in 1984, the Golf was not powerful enough to challenge to Chevrolet Camaros and Opel Monzas of the championship. She does not appear in the entry lists after 1984.

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