Sunday, 2 March 2014

Female Rally Drivers Around the World: Switzerland



Stéphanie le Coultre and Sonia Boi

Circuit racing is illegal in Switzerland, but it has some rallies, and an active rally championship based mainly in France and Italy. Swiss drivers also compete in other championships.

Stéphanie le Coultre - Swiss driver, active in major rallies since 2007. Her first car was a Citroen Saxo VTS, which she used in events in Switzerland itself and France. Her first finish in a major rally came in 2008, when she was 37th in the International Rallye du Valais, in Switzerland. In 2009, she entered the Valais rally again, but could not drive because her navigator, Sarah Dussex, was ill. After this, she exchanged the Citroen for a Fiat Abarth 500. When she shifted the focus of her rally activities to Italy, her results really started improving. In 2011, her best result was 19th, in the Rallye Antibes Côte d’Azur in France. She was also 34th in the Rally Appenino Reggiano. Mid-season, she entered her first IRC rally, the San Remo Rally, but did not finish. After a quiet season in 2012, where she changed car again, to a Suzuki Swift, and gained a new navigator, Sonia Boi, They attacked the Italian Suzuki Rally Cup together in 2013, driving partly for Team Nyonnais and partly for Butterfly Motorsport. Stéphanie’s best result was 17th in the Mille Miglia National Rally, fifth in class and ninth in the Suzuki Cup. Her best Suzuki Cup finish was eighth, in the Sanremo Leggende Rally. She was 34th overall. As well as rallying, she also competes in hillclimbs occasionally. In 2014, she did not do any driving, but navigated for Jean-Marie Renaud. She became a mother in 2016.

Maude Crepin - Swiss rallyist active as a driver in French rallies since 2009. She began as a slalom driver, before entering rallying as a navigator in 2008. In 2009, she competed in four French national rallies in a Citroen Saxo, as well as hillclimbs, slaloms and even circuit racing. The following year, her programme extended to six rallies, still in the Citroen. She managed to finish some rallies, although she was still learning, and had problems with tyres. In 2011, she entered the Saxo into both gravel and tarmac events, with tarmac giving her a best finish of 37th in the Rallye du Gard. Her best gravel finish was 77th, in the Terre des Causes rally. In 2012, she was less active, but drove a Peugeot 106 in some French rallies, including the Rallye des Vins du Gard. She seems to have done some navigation in 2013. In 2014, she returned to the driver's seat, in the Swiss Rally Ronde del Ticino, and the French Rallye Terre des Cardabelles. She won her class in the French event, driving a Ford Fiesta. She was 67th overall. In 2015, she did some rallies in a Citroen Saxo, and finished the Fourme d'Ambert Rally in 100th place. She used the Saxo for one rally in 2016, the Terre des Cardabelles, but mostly drove a Peugeot 206. In this car, she had her best result, a 58th place in the Rallye National du Gard, fourth in class. 

Nathalie Golaz – Swiss driver who mostly competes in France. She began in 2007, driving a Peugeot 206 in France and Switzerland, taking on the Rallye du Valais in her first year. Her other cars have included a Toyota Yaris and a Peugeot 306. In 2013, she started to concentrate more on using bigger, Group N4 cars, such as a Subaru Impreza and a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 6. She was quite effective with the Impreza in 2014, managing three Group N podiums in French regional rallies, and a fifteenth overall in the Ruppéen Rally. She was second in class. In 2015, she drove a WRC-spec Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9. Her best result was a 45th place, in the Monts de Vaucluse Rally. She used the Lancer again in 2016, and scored her best finish of the season in it: 23rd in the Bourgogne International Rally. She also rallied a Citroen C2 and a Ford Fiesta in French national and regional rallies, with mixed results. Until 2010, she was also a co-driver for several different drivers, and this is how her rally career began, in 1996.

Michela (Micky) Martinelli - Swiss driver active in the 1970s and 1980s. She often drove an Opel Kadett or an Alfa Romeo. One of her most famous drives was her 27th place in the 1981 Targa Florio, in the Kadett. She competed in the Italian championship that year and appears to have won the Ladies’ prize, ahead of Pierangela Riva. At some point prior to this, she won the Swiss championship as well. She is now active again in historic events, often in Italy. In 2015, she was seventh in the Rally Storico dell'Appenino, driving an Opel Kadett. She continued in historic events with the Kadett in 2016. 

Iris Thurnherr – Swiss driver with single-seater and rallying experience. She raced in the German junior formulae in 2002 and 2003, before taking up rallying with the Suzuki Ignis Cup. A season in the Swiss championship followed. She changed to a Swift in 2007, for the Suzuki Rallye Cup. She scored some good class podium places in European rallies as part of the Cup and was usually the fastest woman. Her class-winning ways in the Ignis continued into 2008, with an N2 win on the Rallye Pays du Gier, and she was first in class, second in group and 15th overall on the Rallye Oberehe. This time, she was driving a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 6 instead of the Ignis. In 2009, she continued with the Lancer, competing in German rallies, rallysprints, and the occasional circuit race. The situation was the same in 2010. Her best finish was third in the ADAC Rallye Oberehe.She drove in the Swiss championship in 2011, in an Evo VIII run by Emil Frey Motorsport. She was tenth overall, fourth in class, with a best finish of seventh, in the Rallye delle Valle Cuneesi.

(Image from www.campioni.cn)

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