Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Female Drivers in Brazilian Endurance Races

Isadora Diehl, Sabrina Koronuma and Patricia de Souza in 2011.

Brazil has a lengthy tradition of endurance racing, sometimes held on roads, but often on circuits, including Interlagos and Tarumã. These races were, and continue to be, for a mix of prototypes, sportscars and saloons.
Women have been part of the motor racing scene since at least the 1950s. One of Brazil's earliest female racing drivers was Juze Fittipaldi, mother of Emerson, who was fourteenth in the 1951 24 Hours of Interlagos, with Darly Ribeiro. More recently, in the 1980s, women drivers have won major races.

Mayara Bianchi – best-known for racing a Porsche in Brazil. She started out with track days, then moved into the Audi DTCC Series in 2012. Her best finish was fifteenth, at Interlagos. It was only a part-season. She started with the Porsche in 2013, in the Brazilian GT3 Cup, the first female driver to do so. Although she was not one of the front-runners, she was usually able to score points. In 2014, she carried on racing the Porsche in club and national events in Brazil, scoring a few points here and there, as well as racing in America, in endurance events. Her car was a Ginetta G40, shared between three drivers, and she normally raced in the FARA series. 

Alline Cipriani – began racing in 2011, after a serious injury ended her jetski racing career. She competed in the Audi DTCC Cup for two rounds, as well as trying out single-seaters, in the shape of Formula Vee. She entered the whole DTCC Cup in 2012, and had two top-ten finishes, the best of these being an eighth place, at Interlagos. She was eleventh in the championship. In 2013, she moved away from Audi power, and acquired a Ford Focus, in which she competed in the Brazilian Endurance Championship. Partnering Adolpho Rossi Neto, she won the Class V championship outright, and if she had entered all four rounds, she would have helped her team-mates to a Class IV championship as well. As it stood, she was second in that class, with her team-mates as winners. In 2012, she and Adolpho, who are married, shared a Volvo C30 for the Tarumã 12 Hours, which they managed to finish. Since 2013, Alline has been racing a Ginetta in endurance events in the USA, mostly those in the FARA series. In 2015, she raced in the Mercedes-Benz Challenge, in a C250. her best finish was seventh, at Interlagos. She raced the Ginetta in the States again in 2016, in the Pirelli World Challenge. Her best result was a fifteenth place at Barber. She continued with at least some FARA races in 2017. 

Isadora Diehl - class champion in the Gaucho Endurance Championship in 2011, driving a Volkswagen. She was also runner-up in the Brazilian national endurance championship, with her father, Airton Diehl, and Roberto Trenttin. The same driver trio won at least one Brazilian endurance race during that season. That year, she was eleventh in the Tarumã 12 Hours, driving a Golf with Sabrina Koronuma and Patricia de Souza. Earlier, in 2008, she raced in the Interlagos 500km, in the Golf, partnered by her father and Luciano Cardoso. They were 36th. Isadora and Airton were seventh in that year’s Tarumã 12 Hours, driving a Chevrolet Corsa. As well as endurance, Isadora regularly competed in the Drivers & Makes championship, and also seems to have done some dirt-track racing. It is unclear whether or not she is still active in motorsport.

Graziela Fernandes - one of Brazil’s earliest female drivers. Her first big race was the Circuito de Paricicaba, in a Renault Dauphine, and she was ninth. She entered the 1000 Milhas sportscar race in 1970 and drove an Alfa Romeo GTA 1600 to seventh overall, with Carlos Alberto Sgarbi. The same year, she took part in a road race in honour of the opening of the Kennedy Highway, and was fourth, in the same car. The following year, she raced an Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint GTA in endurance events, including the 500km of Interlagos, in which she was thirteenth. She was active in motorsport on and off from the 1964 to 1986, and mainly drove saloons and stock cars, including a Fiat, a Renault 1093 and a Willys jeep.

Lula Gancia - raced in Brazil in the 1960s. She drove in the 1966 Brasilia 1000km race, sharing a little Fiat-Abarth with Felice Albertini. They were fifth overall. The same year, the same pair entered the Rodovia do Café road race, but rolled their Alfa Romeo GTA. She may also have entered some of the women’s races that were held at this time. Later, she was involved in motorsport administration, with her husband, Piero, another racer. She campaigned for improvements to the Interlagos circuit in the late 1960s.

Silvia Lauda - raced in the 2000s. Her first race was the 2003 12 Hours of Tarumã, in which she was fourth in a VW Golf, driving with her brother, Fernando, and her father, also called Fernando. The same team won Class II of the same event in 2005. She may also have taken part in some Drivers and Manufacturers races in Brazil. The family are not related to Niki Lauda.

Patricia de Souza - winner of the Tarumã 12 Hour race in 1989, driving a Volkswagen Passat with her brother, Paulo. That season, the pair also earned a second place in the 3 Hours of Guapore. Later, Patricia contested the Women Corsa Cup in 1999, and the Campeonato Brasileiro Fiesta Feminino in 2001, as well as taking part in some more endurance races, and the Brazilian TC1600 series. Her most recent appearance was the Tarumã 12 Hours in 2011, in which she drove a Volkswagen Golf as part of an all-female team, with Isadora Diehl and Sabrina Koronuma. They were eleventh overall.

Leticia Zanette - came into the public eye in 2002, when she was second in the Mil Milhas Brasileiras, driving a Chevrolet-engined Vectra prototype. Her co-drivers were Cláudio Ricci and Otávio Mesquita. Her achievement was even more noted because she was only 17 years old. Previously, in 2001, she competed in Formula Ford, and before that, karting. Her Mil Milhas drive was part of a Brascar season, which was affected by unreliability and sponsorship worries. Using the same car, she competed in the 2003 Mil Milhas, with Cláudio Ricci and Carlos Alberto Benedetti. They were 20th overall. After that, Leticia seems to have returned to karting, although she did do at least some races in the Brazilian Pick Up championship in 2006.

(Image from http://www.correiodopovo.com.br/blogs/pitlane/?p=4427) 

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