Thursday, 1 May 2014

The Lancia Lady Cup

Lady Cup-spec Lancia A112 Abarth

This one-make championship for female drivers in Sweden ran from 1984 to 1989. It used the Lancia-badged Autobianchi A112 Abarth, a motorcycle-engined supermini that had been in production for quite some time before the Cup’s existence. The marketing department at Fiat had noted that the A112 was bought by a comparatively very large number of younger women, which seems to have informed the creation of this racing series. Its connection to Sweden is slightly puzzling, as Swedish motoring was dominated by domestic brands like Saab and Volvo, but the A112 was sold there, and had been badged as Lancia rather than Autobianchi for some time.

The championship itself was organised by the Swedish  women racing drivers’ club, and followed on from their earlier all-female racing series, which used the Mini. Women’s championships had been a feature of Swedish motorsport since at least 1979. The women drivers’ club formed in the late 1970s, and its membership formed most of the entrants for the Lady Cup. Drivers were all Swedish, or racing under a Swedish license.

Each Lady Cup championship consisted of six rounds, normally contested within Sweden, although one year, 1987, a race was held in Hungary, as a support to the Hungarian Grand Prix. It is unclear whether this was part of the championship.

The first championship, in 1984, was won by Åsa Johansson, the sister of Formula One driver, Stefan Johansson. Subsequent Lady Cups were mostly won by Nettan Lindgren, who dominated the series completely for most of its lifetime. In 1988, she made a clean sweep of wins, pole positions and fastest laps, after missing out on only one win in 1987. In 1989, Eva Bornebusch won the title.

Nettan Lindgren went on to race in the BTCC. Her near-total dominance of the Lady Cup meant that there was not much room for another female star to come up through the ranks. Mostly, Lady Cup competitors were active in Swedish club and national-level motorsport. One of the longest-standing members of the Swedish women racing drivers’ club, Ulla Britt Wigh, raced in at least one edition, finishing ninth in 1986. She was competing against her daughter, Anneli, who was fourth.

Among the drivers who spread their wings a little more were Catta Lindgren, sister of Nettan, who drove in the 1988 Kemora 500km race as part of an all-female team, and Eva Bornebusch, who was part of the same team. Eva Bornebusch was also a regular in one-make racing in Sweden in the 1990s. Eva Kjellkvist-Pulls was another long-term Lady Cup competitor who was a regular face on the Swedish one-make scene for a long time afterwards.

The A112 went out of general production in 1985, which limited the Cup’s shelf life somewhat. It was replaced by the Lady Opel Cup, which used GM's Corsa.

For more information about some of the drivers in this series, click here.

List of winners:
1984 Åsa Johansson
1985 Nettan Lindgren
1986 Nettan Lindgren
1987 Nettan Lindgren
1988 Nettan Lindgren
1989 Eva Bornebusch

(Image from

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