Saturday, 21 March 2015

Early Female Racers in New Zealand

Sybil Lupp

There was no major, organised motor racing in New Zealand until after the Second World War. After that, in the late 1940s, road races began to be held, first on public roads, then on purpose-built circuits. Women drivers were involved in these, right from the start. They were also part of the speed eventing scene, which grew up shortly before this.

This post describes some of New Zealand’s female racers in the 1940s and 1950s.

Nola Blackburn – raced a JAP-engined Cooper single-seater in road races in the 1950s. She took part in the New Zealand Championship Road Race in 1952 and 1953, and finished once, in tenth place, at Mairehau, in 1952. The following year, when the race was held at Dunedin, she crashed out. Nola may also have raced a Buick alongside her father, Vic Blackburn, shortly before. The Cooper remained in the family until about 1958, when it was sold.

Sybil Lupp – New Zealand’s first female racing driver. Her interest in cars began on the engineering side, and she was one of New Zealand’s first female mechanics in the 1940s. She started racing after her second marriage, in 1947. Initially, she drove in hillclimbs, scoring several wins in MG cars. In 1949, she entered the first road race in New Zealand, the Road Racing Championship, and was fifth, in an MG TC. In 1950, she was second in the same race, in the TC, and first on handicap. In 1952, she raced an MG TD, and was seventh in both the Lady Wigram Trophy and the CWF Hamilton Trophy. In 1953, she changed from an MG to a Jaguar XK-120. In this car, she was seventh in the CWF Hamilton Trophy, with HR Brown, and seventh in the Dunedin race, driving solo. As well as racing, she was one of the founder members of the Otago Motor Association, and ran a series of garages and car dealerships. She died in 1994.

June Monk – started off racing a Ford 10 special, then acquired a Triumph TR2, painted pink, which she raced in some major events in the mid-1950s. She did not finish the CWF Hamilton Trophy in 1955 or 1956, but was twelfth in the South Island Championship Road Race in 1957. Her position on handicap was fourth. After this, she competed in club events only, in a Jaguar XK140.

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Thursday, 19 March 2015

Female Rally Drivers after 1950: Japan

Language difficulties make it hard to research rallying in Japan, but there are at least a few female drivers active on the domestic scene. This post will hopefully be expanded in future.

Eri Kurosawa (Kuroeri) - competed in the Japanese rally championship in 2019, driving a Honda Fit. Her best finish was 26th in the International Rally of Tsumagoi, second in class. She was also 30th in the Shinshiro Rally, from 44 finishers. At the end of the year, she was fifth in class JN6 of the Japanese championship. 2019 was her second season in a car, as she had done some rallies in a Toyota Aqua in 2018. “Kuroeri” is a celebrity in Japan, who models and occasionally appears on screen.

Arisa Mizuhara - rallies a hybrid Nissan Note in her native Japan. 2019 appears to be her first season of major rallies, although she and co-driver Risa Mizuhara apparently competed together in 2018. Her best result so far has been a 32nd place in the International Rally of Tsumagoi in January, where she was fourth in class. It was her first event on snow. Later in the year, she seems to have driven a Subaru Impreza as well as the Note.

Kozue Oi - Japanese international driver. She began her WRC career in Kenya in 2000, in a Subaru Forester. Since then, she has driven in WRC events in Japan and New Zealand, as well as the Japanese and Asia Pacific championships. She also drives in Malaysian rallies. Her cars have included a Subaru Impreza, Mitsubishi Lancer and Ford Fiesta. In 2009, she drove a Mitsubishi Colt in the Japan Rally Series, which she won, driving for the MusicMasters team, after a string of good finishes. She drove in the Wales Rally GB for the first time in 2009. As well as rallying, she has won multiple titles in off-road trials in Japan.

Fumi Shimada – rallied a Mazda 2 Demio in Japan, in 2013 and 2014. She did reasonably well in her first season, scoring two top-twenty finishes, the best of these being an 18th in the Osaka University Tango Peninsula Charity Rally. She was also 20th in the MCSC Rally Highland Masters, fifth in class. In 2014, she did not do quite as well, and had a best finish of 29th, in the Shinshiro Rally. In 2015, she rallied the Demio again, and managed to finish the MSCC Rally Highland Master in 25 place, second in class. For 2016, her schedule was very similar. She was 27th in the both the MSCC event, and the Shinshiro Rally, and 32nd in the Wakasa Rally. In 2017, she only entered one rally, the Shinshiro Rally, and did not finish. Her navigator is usually Yusuke Ishiguro.

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Monday, 16 March 2015

Women in Rallycross: France

Drivers from the 2014 Coupe des Dames

Rallycross is popular in France, and many female drivers have taken part over the years, with varying degrees of success. Women’s championships have even been held, including the Citroen Challenge Féminin and the Coupe des Dames, introduced in 2014. There is some crossover between rallycross and Andros Trophy ice-racing drivers, especially in France.

Sandra Bessas - competed in French rallycross in 2003 and 2004. In 2003, she drove a Saxo in the Citroen Challenge, finishing 32nd overall and third in the Ladies’ standings. In 2004, the Saxo was replaced by a C2. She was 25th in the new Citroen Challenge, and sixth in the Coupe des Dames. Previously, in 2002, she competed in slalom events in France. 

Caty Caly - winner of five French Ladies’ Rallycross titles. The first was in a Golf in 1985. Later, she drove for Audi, after their redundant Group B rally cars were put into rallycross service. She won Ladies’ championships in Audi Quattros in 1993 and 1994. In 1995 and 1996 she defended her crown in a Citroen ZX. Since then, she has mainly raced sportscars, favouring Ferraris and Porsches, in one-make series and the French national GT championship. Her best finish was a couple of podiums in the Porsche Supercup. As well as sportscars, she has done some Andros Trophy ice races. She made a comeback in 2013, driving in two rounds of the Euro NASCAR stock car championship in France. 

Laura Camerino - active in rallycross in France since at least 2009. Her cars have included a Volkswagen Polo and Mitsubishi Lancer. In 2018, she was 19th in Division Three of the French championship, driving a Polo. She is also a rally co-driver, mostly sitting alongside Jean-Yves Pompon in his Mitsubishi Lancer.

Magali Charbonnier - raced in the Super 1600 class of the French Rallycross Championship in 2012. Her car was a Citroen C2 and she was 16th, with a best overall finish of twelfth, achieved twice at Dreux. Previously, she was active in autocross, in the buggy class, usually driving in women’s events. She first competed in 1997, and won at least one French championship in the discipline, in 2007. In 2011, she took part in the main, mixed French championship for buggies. In 2013, she remained in Super 1600, in the Citroen. She was fifteenth overall, with a best finish of ninth. She retired from rallycross at the beginning of 2014, but continued to compete in autocross in France. 

Nathalie Gouennou  - active in rallycross since 2011, when her brother (Nicolas Bothorel) gave her a car, a Citroen Saxo. She did a few races that year, in Division 4. After taking a break in 2012 due to a knee injury, she returned for a longer schedule in 2013, scoring her first points in the French championship at Lessay. She was 37th overall. In 2014, she was 29th in the Division 4 championship, with a best finish of 21st, at Pont du Druan. In 2015, she raced a Citroen Xsara in Division 4 of the French championship. She was 42nd overall, after a part-season. She continued to race the Xsara in 2016, and also a Renault Twingo, which she drove in the final rounds of the French Twingo championship. She was 44th in the final standings. 

Lucie Grosset-Janin – French Ladies’ rallycross champion in 2014, driving a Renault Twingo. The championship was run as part of the Twingo R1 Cup one-make series, in which she was twelfth. Her best overall finish was sixth, at Dreux. She was also eighth in the Junior championship. 2014 was her second rallycross season; she competed in the Twingo R1 Cup in 2013, and was 25th in the championship. At the start of 2015, she announced that she would not be racing the Twingo that year. Lucie is from a rallycross family. Her two brothers also race, one alongside her in the Twingo R1 Cup.

Megane Hardonniere - winner of the French Twingo Rallycross Coupe des Dames in 2017. It was her second season in the championship and also her second season in rallycross. She described 2016 as a learning year which included an off-track excursion in the last round. Her main rival in 2017 was Gaelle Moncarre, who took her crown in 2018 as Megane’s personal circumstances meant she was not able to compete.

Fiona Huet - had her first season of French rallycross in 2009. She drove a Peugeot 309 that had previously been campaigned by her father. Racing in Division 4, her best result came in the first round at Dreux, where she was 16th after qualifying for the “C” final. She was 36th in the championship. 

Samira Ijoui - raced in the Dacia Logan Cup of the French championship in 2009. She did not take part in all the rounds and was not among the front-runners. She does not appear to have returned in 2010. 

Marianne Juin - took part in the French Rallycross Championship in 2007 and 2008. In 2007, she drove a Peugeot 206 in Division 2, and was 30th overall. Her best finish was fourteenth, at Faleyras. This result improved to 27th in 2008, using the same car. This time, her best finish was thirteenth, at Luneville. After the 2008 season, Marianne stepped down from driving duties and now helps to run a rallycross team with her husband, Jean Juin. 

Gaëlle Lecourbe - took part in the French rallycross championship between 2003 and 2006. She began in the Citroen Ladies’ Challenge in a Saxo, and was twelfth in the ladies’ championship. In 2004, she stuck with the Saxo, which she shared with her father, Jean-Pierre, and entered a few rounds of Division Four of the French championship, without much success. This arrangement continued in 2005 and 2006. Gaëlle was an enthusiastic competitor but rarely qualified for finals. 

Stephanie Liger (Anne) - French rallycross driver between 2003 and 2005. She began in the Citroen Challenge, like many others, and was thirteenth in the Ladies’ standings in her first year. In 2004 she improved this to fourth lady, and finished 27th overall. Using the same Citroen Saxo VTS, she was also 31st in Division Four of the main French championship. She moved back to the Citroen Challenge in 2005, and was 24th, fifth in the Coupe des Dames. She announced her retirement at the beginning of the 2006 season.

Céline Menier - one of very few female drivers to compete in Division One of the French Rallycross championship. She has driven a Ford Focus WRC in this class since 2007. In 2008, she was 16th, with a best finish of eighth. In 2007, she was twelfth, with one fifth place. Before that, she raced in the lower divisions: Division Three in a Peugeot 306 in 2006, Division Four in a Citroen Saxo in 2004, and the Citroen Saxo Ladies’ Challenge in 2003, in which she was fifth. She has also competed in ice-racing, entering the Trophée Andros Féminin between 2002 and 2006. Altogether, she won eight races, and she was second in 2004. She does not appear to have competed in 2009, but returned in 2010, driving a Citroen C2. Her best finish was a disappointing 17th. 

Christelle Menier - occasionally drives in French rallycross events. She was ninth in the Citroen Saxo Ladies’ Challenge in 2003, and drove strongly, if not the most competitively, in that year’s Citroen Challenge. Since then, she has tested her family team’s Ford Focus WRC and made occasional appearances in it. Alongside her younger sister Celine Menier, she drove in the Andros Trophée Féminin between 2002 and 2006. She was one of the first “Ice Girls” to race, and was reasonably fast, although she did not win as many races as her sister. In 2010, alongside Celine, she returned to French rallycross, and was 33rd in class 1A. She may have shared a car with her sister.

Gaelle Moncarre - French ladies' rallycross champion in 2018. It was her third attempt at the championship. She raced a Renault Twingo in both the dedicated ladies' finals and the main Twingo series. She was fifteenth in the Twingo R1 series, behind Alizee Pottier, whom she beat to the ladies' title. Her best finish was seventh at Faleyras. Prior to entering rallycross in the Twingo, she competed in hillclimbs and slaloms in a variety of cars, starting with a Peugeot 205 in 2000. 

Coralie Moreau - winner of the French Twingo Rallycross Coupe des Dames in 2015. It was her second season in the championship, having been one of the original five women who contested the first Coupe des Dames race in 2014. The same year that she won her Coupe des Dames, she was ninth in the Junior standings, also a one-make Twingo series. She returned to the Junior championship in 2017 and was thirteenth. In between, she competed in the Twingo but was unplaced. She is from a motorsport family and her older brother also races. 

Veronique Patier - competes in France in a number of mixed-surface disciplines. She started at the age of 16, driving a Cross Car buggy. At 19, she graduated to rallycross, in the Citroen Challenge. She won her first race in 2003. Between then and 2006, she competed in the Citroen Challenge and was runner-up in the Ladies’ championship in 2003, 2004 and 2005. She won the Ladies’ title in 2006. Her best overall result was 16th, in 2004. After the 2006 season and the cancellation of the Citroen series, she moved back to buggy-based competition in the French Autocross championship. She drives in both mixed and women’s events. As well as mud, she has also raced on ice in the Andros Trophée Féminin, plus a few races in the main championship. 

Anne Perillous - has competed in French rallycross since at least 2005. She appears to have made her debut in the French championship in 2005, driving a Peugeot 306 in Division 2. During 2007, she was 39th in class after one points finish at Mayenne. In an unusual move, she raced a BMW Z3 in 2008, and managed lower-level points finishes in most of her events. She was fourteenth overall. The Z3 was exchanged for a Citroen Xsara in 2009, but after only one round, she returned to the BMW. Throughout the season, she alternated between the two. She was 23rd in Division 3 this time, with a best finish of seventh at Chateauroux. She moved up to Division 1 in 2010, driving a Peugeot 207 T16. After one tenth place, she was 25th in the championship. In 2011, she entered one race in this car, and was tenth. 

Catherine Planche - winner of the Citroen Challenge Féminine in France in 2003, 2004 and 2005, driving a Saxo and then a C2. Her best finish in the main Challenge was 15th, in 2004. In 2003 she was 18th and in 2005 she was 19th. Prior to her rallycross exploits, she drove a Peugeot 106 in French rallies. In 2006, she had her rallycross C2 converted to tarmac rally spec and returned to the stages. Her co-driver was Benoit Noger. After 2006, she disappears from the scene. 

Alizée Pottier - finished third in the 2017 French ladies’ rallycross championship. Her car was a Renault Twingo. She also ran in the Twingo one-make class of the French rallycross championship, and was 23rd, and tenth in the Junior class. She was only sixteen years old when she made her rallycross debut. In 2018, she was twelfth in the Twingo class, tenth in the Junior championship and second in the Ladies'. She won the Ladies' championshup in 2019 having narrowly lost to Gaelle Lecourbe the year before. She was 19th in the main Twingo draw.

Maïté Poussin - winner of the French Ladies’ Rallycross Championship in 1989 and 1990. She was driving a Lancia Delta. In 1991, she drove a Ford Sierra in the same championship. She appears to have competed for quite some time, and her husband Gerard acted as her team manager. They now run the rallycross driving school together at Lohéac, with their son. 

Aude Salviat - began competing in France in 2009. She has driven in the Dacia Logan Cup in both seasons. In 2009, she usually managed points finishes, and scored several eighth places. In 2010, with a larger field, she maintained this form, with a best finish of seventh, which is now midfield. She was eighth overall in the championship. In 2011, she was only 19th, after a part-season in the Logan Cup. 

Adeline Sangnier - former single-seater driver and French junior karting champion. She had one season in Formula Renault in 2004. She made the switch to rallycross in 2008, and was seventh in Division 2 in her first season. Her car was a Honda Civic Type R, which gave her a best finish of third at Lavare. She finished in the points in all eleven rounds. In 2009, she drove a Citroen C2 R2 in Division 2, and was sixth in Division 1A. This made her the French Ladies’ champion. Her best results were two fourth places at Dreux and Faleyras. Driving an older Saxo, she was third in Division 1A in 2010. Her best results were four second places. Still in the ageing Saxo, she was fifth in 2011, with two third places as her best results. She was also eighth in the French round of the Super 1600 European Championship. The Saxo was updated to a C2 in 2012, which proved very powerful. She won the Loheac round of the Super 1600 championship, and was fourth in the championship overall. In 2013, she continued to be competitive, although she did not manage a win. Her two second places and two thirds were enough to give her third in the Super 1600 championship. She was lying in fourth place in the French Super 1600 championship in 2014, when her season was ended by a serious accident in the C2. Her brother took her place in the championship for the rest of the season. She returned to competition in 2015, racing a Peugeot 207 in the Supercar class. She was fifth overall. Her 2016 season started late but well, with a win at Sarthe, but she only did a part-season in the 207, and was unable to challenge for a title.

Sabrina Souchaud - winner of the French ladies’ rallycross championship in 2016, which ran as part of the Renault Twingo Cup. She was fourteenth in the main Twingo standings. 2015 was her second season in the Twingo, and her third in rallycross. Her first car, in 2014, was a Citroen 2CV. She competes alongside her son, who races in the Super 1600 class.

Jessica Tarrière (Anne) - probably France’s most successful contemporary female rallycross driver. She began in 2005, driving a Citroen Saxo in Division Four. In 2006, she moved up to Division Two, with a Honda Civic Type R. Her best result that year was seventh overall, and she was thirteenth in the championship. In 2007, she improved that to sixth, after a consistent year in which she improved her best finish to fourth. Still in the Type R, she was fourth in Division Four in 2008, and came second at Mayenne. Driving an S1600 Fiat Punto, she moved up to Division 1A in 2009. She was not yet quite as competitive and had a best result of seventh, at Faleyras. She had another disappointing year in 1A in 2010, with only a couple of tenth places to her name, driving the same car. She was fifteenth overall. In Autumn 2010, she stopped racing, following an accident. However, she made a small comeback in 2012, driving a Renault Clio to ninth place at Tourneix. This comeback continued in 2013, mostly in Division 4. Driving the Clio, she was ninth overall, with one second place. She also featured in one Supercar race, in a Citroen Xsara. The Xsara was her full-time car in 2014, in Supercars. She was fifteenth in the championship. Another Supercar season in 2015 only ended up a guest spot, and she was 20th in the championship. In 2016, she was back in Division 4, but was quite competitive, and finished eighth in class. Her car was a Renault Clio. She finished eighth in Division 4 again in 2017 and fifth in 2018, with three third places. In 2019, she was sixth, with a best finish of second at Mayenne. 

Sandra Vincent – runner-up in the French Ladies’ Rallycross Championship in 2014, driving a Renault Twingo R1. She began racing in 2013, and was 27th in the Twingo R1 series. In 2014, she improved her overall position to 21st, with a best finish of fourteenth, achieved at Kerlabo and Chateauroux. She won two of the women’s finals. In 2015, she was third in the Coupe des Dames, and twelfth in the Twingo championship. She only did a part-season in 2016, so although she won two Coupe des Dames races, she was only fourth in the championship. Her final position in the Twingo class was nineteenth. Previously, she competed in autocross in France for nine seasons.

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Thursday, 12 March 2015

Amanda Hennessy

Amanda is a much-travelled American driver who has competed in various series over the years. Now, she is mostly involved in historic racing. She competes in Europe quite extensively, as well as in the States, and lives in Switzerland.

She began her career in karting, before moving into ice racing in the States, in 2001. At this time, she was picked for the Lyn St. James Driver Development Program, run by former Indycar racer, Lyn St. James.

Her first circuit races were in 2004, in the SCCA Spec Racer Ford series. By 2005, she was training at the Skip Barber Racing School and competing in its associated series. 
Late in the summer of 2005 , she made her first racing trip to Europe, to drive in the Formula Woman Nations Cup, in a Caterham. Despite good performances in qualifying, Formula Woman was not one of her best racing moments.

In 2006, she had a part-season in the Skip Barber Racing Series, and several SCCA championships for the Mazda Miata (MX-5). One of these championships resulted in Amanda’s first win, the National SSB Northern Pacific Division. She also did her first One Lap of America, for charity fundraising for breast cancer, as well as competition. This event is a long-distance road rally around the USA, which runs as a legal-speed regularity test on public roads, with autocross and speed trial sections, held on circuits. As its name suggests, it traverses around thousands of miles of America, with the exception of Hawaii and Alaska.

2007 saw her move back to Europe, to race in some Swiss championships. She did two races of LO Formel Lista Junior, and competed in the Swiss Touring Cup Masters, driving an Alpine-Renault and a Chevrolet Corvette. She was fourth overall. She also found time to race a Formula Ford in SCCA competition for a couple of races, yielding a couple of podiums. A second One Lap of America gave her a class win, and more funds raised for charity.

In 2008, she did some classic events (including the Le Mans Classic and One Lap of America) in a Corvette, plus the Clio Cup in Switzerland. She returned to Switzerland in 2009, for a second season in the Clio Cup. She was tenth overall, after a varied season, with a best finish of sixth, at Monza. She was usually in the top ten.

After that, her international adventures have mostly been focused around historics, usually Corvettes. She drove at the Le Mans Classic in 2010, 2012 and 2014, in a 1968 Corvette. In another Corvette, a 1999 Rolex GT model, she won the Grand Prix race held at the Corvette Euro Meet, at Bresse in France. This car is run by Robert Dubler’s team, which partners her own Hennessy Racing team for all events. The Bresse win was a first for a female driver.

At home, she did a few Spec Racer Ford races. In 2011, she raced the 1999 Corvette in the VLN, and a Clio Cup in the Nürburgring 24 Hours, which gave her and her team-mates a fourth in class. 

In 2012, she made another appearance in modern machinery, driving an Opel Astra in the Nürburgring 24 Hours. She was third in class V3, 95th overall.

In 2013, she raced almost exclusively in historic events, including hillclimbs, all round Europe, in a Corvette. She also did her eighth One Lap of America, scoring another class win.

In 2014, she won the Austrian Histo Cup Historic V8 championship, in the 1968 Corvette. This series is registered in Austria, but runs around Central Europe. She was the winner of the over-4000cc class, and was fifth in the combined rankings.

She also took part in the Nürburgring 24 Hours, in an Opel Astra, with Robert Dubler, Christoph Brune and Thomas Lennackers. They were 102nd overall.  

She planned to defend her Histo Cup title in 2015, and have another go at the One Lap of America, as part of a three-car Hennessy/Dubler team. She was 49th overall, as part of a three-driver team, and fourth in the Retro Car class.

Her Histo Cup season ended up being a double-pronged attack on the Histo Cup itself, and the associated Touring and GT Open, in which she raced a Renault Clio. She was second in the Touring and GT championship. 

Amanda's Histo Cup season in 2016 did not run as smoothly as in previous years, and included losing wheels during a race. She also raced the Corvette in the Le Mans Classic in June, in the Plateau 5 section. She and her team-mates, including Robert Dubler, were 42nd in their first race.

She teamed up with Adam Hennessy and Thomas Daetwyler for the One Lap of America, as Team Mahna Mahna. Their car was a 2009 Chevrolet, and they were second in the Retro Car class. 

She raced the Corvette in the YTCC in Europe in 2017, finishing fifth in the championship and second in class. She scored three class wins over the year.

She also returned to the One Lap of America in the Chevrolet.

Her 2018 schedule was very similar. In 2019, she did the YTCC series in the Corvette, as well as the One Lap of America.

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(Thanks to Amanda herself for her feedback and additional information.)

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Louise Cook

Louise in 2012

Louise Cook was the 2011 British Ladies’ Rally Champion, driving a Ford Fiesta.

Although her father worked in the automotive industry on the design side, there is not history of motorsport in Louise’s family. She did inherit her father’s interest in cars, and studied automotive design at Coventry University.

Her start in rallying came from a “Find a Lady Rally Driver” contest in 2006, when she was 19 and an undergraduate. She was second in the challenge, out of 1000 potential drivers. It was a while before she could afford to compete, and her father, despite his background, did not really like the idea of his daughter as a rally driver.

Her first rally was the Rockingham Stages, at the end of 2006. She drove a Peugeot 205 with Stefan Davis, and was 51st overall. She had put together the money needed to enter by selling small spaces on her car for sponsorship, some of which was provided by her fellow students for a few pounds a square.

After that, she was absent from the competition scene for some time, owing to a lack of major sponsors. She also had to contend with the death of her father, Robert, in 2008.

She made her proper start in competitive rallying in 2010, taking part in the Challenge section of the British Rally Championship. Her car was a Ford Fiesta, and she was partnered again by Stefan Davis. In order to fund her season, Louise revived her idea of selling little advertising squares on her car, this time promoting them to local businesses. She also held raffles for potential sponsors at rallies themselves. This seemed to pay off; she drove in rallies around the UK, and after a slow start, with twelfth in the Pirelli Rally, 16th in the Jim Clark Rally and a retirement from the first Isle of Man Challenge Rally, she really got going. She was fourth in the second part of the Isle of Man event, then fourth again in the first part of the Ulster Rally, and sixth in the second part. Both of the Ulster rounds gave her class wins, which was enough to secure the RC4 class for her.

Having more than held her own in the Challenge, she graduated to the British Rally Championship in 2011, tackling five rounds of the series in the Fiesta. She was second in the Fiesta Sport Trophy, out of thirteen drivers, 26th overall and tenth in the Formula Two championship. Her best overall result was fifteenth, in the Trackrod Rally, her last event of the season. She finished in the top twenty in all five rallies.

In 2012, she entered the Production World Rally Championship in the Fiesta, eager to push her career as far as she could. She contested the Monte Carlo, Acropolis, New Zealand, German and Italian rallies. As her budget was very tightly planned, extra expenses threatened her campaign by Rally New Zealand. To be eligible for FIA WRC awards, drivers must enter at least one non-European round, so it was important that Louise managed to get to New Zealand. One of the ways she raised money was auctioning off her trophies from previous years. This paid off, and she not only started, but finished a non-European round. This was despite only just fighting off an illness in time.

Her best result was 27th, in New Zealand, from an overall point of view, but she was also very impressive in Monte Carlo, despite problems with spectators and a broken intercom on the first day. She won Stage 15 in the PWRC class, and was second in the PWRC class overall, although she was only 54th in the final leaderboard. There was a high rate of attrition in this rally, partly due to changing weather conditions. She was sixth PWRC finisher in the Acropolis and New Zealand rallies, and tenth in the Rally of Italy, and was eighth in the PWRC at the end of the year. The Rally of Germany ended in retirement.

At the end of the year, Louise was awarded a trophy for the best two-wheel-drive entry in the WRC. This was the first time a female driver had won an official FIA rally trophy, other than the Ladies’ Cup, outright.

She did not compete then for a while, due to funding problems, but aimed to return. Pictures on Twitter showed a newly re-liveried Fiesta, and it appeared that Louise would be back on the stages soon. In the interim, she did some media work. The most high-profile job she did was to act as driving coach to actor Idris Elba, for his “King of Speed” programme. This meant that she got to drive a works Mini WRC with Idris and Paddy Hopkirk, becoming one of only a handful of drivers to gain WRC experience.

In 2016, she made a surprise one-off return to the WRC, driving a Fiesta in the Rally Finland. She was 53rd overall, and eleventh in class. At the end of the year, she announced she was auctioning her WRC 2WD trophy, in a last-ditch effort to salvage her WRC3 campaign for 2017.

She did make one WRC appearance in 2017, at Rally Sweden. Sadly, she had to drop out after the second day, due to car problems.

In 2018, she put together a deal to run in WRC3, competing in five WRC rallies. She used a Peugeot 208 R2 for the Sardinia Rally, her first event, and was 26th overall. For subsequent rallies she drove a Ford Fiesta. She picked up a best WRC3 finish of third at Catalunya and Germany and won a stage of the Rally GB. Her other rally was Turkey, where she was 30th overall but only ninth in WRC3.

She entered Wales Rally GB in 2019, driving the Fiesta. This was her only major event of the year. She and Stefan Davis were 47th overall, 15th in class.

At the end of 2019 the Fiesta was put up for sale. Louise's plans are unclear.

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Thursday, 5 March 2015

Natasha Seatter

Natasha wins in 2011

Natasha is a well-travelled Malaysian driver, active since 2009, with race wins in different series, in different countries, to her name. She is half-American and was born in Malaysia.
Following four years of karting, she began her senior career by winning all four races of the Petronas Formula Xperience rookie driver competition, in a Formula BMW. This series was one of the supports for the Merdeka Millennium Endurance race, and therefore a big stage on which to perform.

This was followed by a year in Asian Formula BMW in 2010. Now, Natasha was competing against drivers from all over Asia and beyond, including future Formula One drivers, Daniil Kvyat and Carlos Sainz Jr, many of which were far more experienced than her. She managed a best finish of tenth, at Guangdong, and was 20th in the championship.

In 2011, she continued in Formula BMW in Asia, now rebranded as the JK Racing Asia Series. She improved her best finish to fifth, in Singapore, and was a regular fixture in the top ten. Her final position was tenth.

During the winter season between 2011 and 2012, she travelled to the United Arab Emirates to contest the Formula Gulf 1000 series, held in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Natasha was on the pace straight away, and was second in her first race, at Dubai. Later in the season, in February, she won her first race, again at the Dubai circuit. She also achieved another second place, and three thirds. Unfortunately, she missed the first two rounds, and as a result, does not seem to have been classified.

In between, she managed two rounds of Formula Pilota China, in Mongolia, gaining two third places, plus another third in a ladies’ VW Polo Cup race in India, and seventh in a mixed VW Cup race. Back at home, she drove a VW Scirocco in the Merdeka Millennium endurance race, and was 19th, driving as part of the Scirocco team with Angus Kirkwood and Noel Edward Becker.

During the 2012-13 winter season, she competed in fourteen rounds of Formula Gulf, and walked away with seven wins, plus two second places. She was the runaway winner of the championship.

She drove in two rounds of the 2013 Asian Porsche Carrera Cup, a first for a female driver. These races yielded a thirteenth and 17th place, at Shanghai.

For most of 2013, she raced in the Malaysian Super Series, in a Radical SR8. For the endurance part of the championship, she was joined by her father, Stewart Seatter, who also races in the Asia Pacific region. They were second in the second round, at Sepang. Natasha was second in the championship, after a battle with Angus Kirkwood, her former team-mate. She scored four podium finishes.

Late in the season, she rejoined Formula Gulf for its two Dubai races, and won both of them.

In 2014, she entered the South Korean rounds of the GT Asia championship, in an Aston Martin Vantage. She was eighth and ninth at the Jeollanamdo circuit, driving for the Craft Bamboo team with Tacksung Kim. Her first race earned her a “Best Performing Driver” award, for climbing to seventh from eleventh place, then fighting back to eighth, following a safety car period and a drive-through penalty.

Unfortunately, Natasha did not race for the rest of the year. Her plans for 2015 were unclear, but she did express an interest in contesting the Australian V8 Supercar series in the future. Continuing recovery from an injury kept her out of competition in 2015 and she does not appear to have raced since.

(Image copyright CircuitProDigital) 

Monday, 2 March 2015

Ewy Rosqvist

(Image from

Ewy was a Swedish driver of the 1950s and 1960s. She was the only woman to drive for the Mercedes rally team, and is most famous for her win in the “Argentine Grand Prix” Rally in 1962.

Ewy was born in 1929, and grew up in a comfortably-off Swedish farming family. Her first love was animals. She attended agricultural college and after finishing her course, worked for a local veterinary surgeon. Supported by him, she undertook some veterinary training in Stockholm. It was while she was there that she learned to drive. After gaining the necessary certificates, she worked alongside the vet, as an assistant. This necessitated her first car, a Mercedes-Benz 170 S, as she had to drive miles between farms, to assist the vet with livestock care. She became adept at driving long distances on challenging terrain, often at speed, and also learned how to handle and maintain her car in these conditions. This was a good foundation for her future rally career.

Her first taste of rallying came in 1954, when she was a passenger in a three-man team on the Midnight Sun Rally. The two drivers were her husband, Yngve, and her father-in-law, although she did drive a little on some of the road sections. After this, she was determined to enter a rally herself.

It was not until 1956 that she took to the stages herself, although she and Yngve did do various motor club navigational challenges together. She entered the Midnight Sun Rally, with Majbritt Clausson on the maps. They did not finish. The make of their car is not recorded, but it is likely to be a Saab. This was Ewy’s biggest event of the year, but she was active in smaller rallies, whenever finances and work schedules allowed it.

In 1957, she spent a year rallying a Saab 93, which was one of the cars to have in Sweden at the time. Her usual co-driver was her sister-in-law, Anita Rosqvist. As well as driving her own car, she did some navigation, including one rally with her husband. They were 25th in the 1000 Lakes Rally.

Her Saab only lasted a year, and she chose a car from its Swedish rival, Volvo, for 1958. During her first year, she mainly competed in Scandinavia, in various rallies, but in 1959, she became more ambitious, and started looking towards an international career. After a first win in the Ladies’ class of the Midnight Sun Rally, Ewy and Anita weighed up their chances of a win in the European Ladies’ Championship, against the formidable Pat Moss, who was capable of outright wins. They racked up Coupes des Dames in the Viking Rally and the 1000 Lakes, in their Volvo 1600, plus a strong finish in Poland. Ewy was third in Germany, but Pat won the ladies’ prize, putting her almost level.

The Ladies’ championship points were not calculated solely on points scored within rallies. Drivers had to enter a certain number of rallies to be considered, and they received some points for each start. Pat Moss had skipped some events, allowing Ewy to get the lead in the rankings. The championship would be decided at the RAC Rally, which both drivers had elected to contest. Disaster struck for Ewy; shortly after her arrival in England, she became very ill, and ended up in hospital. She thought that this was the end of her Ladies’ title hopes, but as it happened, Pat Moss also withdrew from the rally, handing Ewy her first of three Ladies’ Cups.

1960 was something of a turning point in Ewy’s rally career. She began the year with her first run in the Monte Carlo Rally, still driving her own Volvo 1600. She was fifth in the Ladies’ class, a long way behind Pat Moss. However, by May, she had the bonus of works support from the Volvo team, and a new PV544. Ewy and Anita won the Ladies’ Cup in the Acropolis Rally, and were 15th overall.  In August, they followed this up with another Coupe des Dames in the 1000 Lakes Rally, and were 29th. Ewy retained her Viking Rally ladies’ title, and also travelled to Poland for the first time, for the Rajd Polski, which she did not finish. The battle with Pat Moss was on again, but it came down to technical arbitration, rather than results on the road. Pat’s car was judged to have been placed in the wrong class, and she was no longer eligible. Ewy could have benefitted, but the FIA decided not to award the European Ladies’ Cup this year.

Her new professional status would have been very welcome to Ewy; after combining rallying and veterinary work since 1956, she finally parted company with her surgery, due to being unable to commit her time to her old job.

There was more change in 1961. Anita was pregnant, and sat out most of the season. Ewy teamed up with Monika Wallraf, a German who also raced on the circuits. Their first event together was the Monte Carlo Rally, in a Volvo 122. They got to the finish in 56th place, ahead of Ewy’s arch-rival, Pat Moss, but behind Anne Hall, who won the Coupe des Dames. They ran well in the Alpine Rally, close to the leading drivers, and won another Ladies’ Prize. In August, Ewy won another one in Poland, partnered by Eugenia Wolko this time. Back with Monika, she was the fastest lady in the 1000 Lakes Rally, in a 544, and was 19th overall. She also participated in the RAC Rally, with another new navigator, Ursula Wirth, but her best result had come in May. She was seventh in the Acropolis Rally, in the 544, her first international top ten. A total of nine ladies’ awards, in different rallies, gave her another European Ladies’ Cup. Pat Moss was now concentrating on outright wins, and there were new female rivals to overcome.

She started the year with the Monte Carlo Rally in a Volvo in 1962, but shortly afterward, she was approached by Mercedes, who offered her a professional driver’s contract, after months of rumours. Her first major rally as a Mercedes works driver was the Tulip Rally, in a 220 SE. It was a tough start for her and Ursula, and they were 48th overall. Her erstwhile rival, Pat Moss, was the winner. In the summer, she was 20th in the 1000 Lakes Rally, and a pleasing sixth on a car-breaking Polish Rally. However, her greatest achievement, and probably the greatest of her entire career, came in the autumn.  She won the Gran Premio Internacional Standard Supermovil YPF (Touring Car Grand Prix) outright in Argentina. This was not a race, but a long-distance rally, held over ten days in the rugged Argentine plains.  Ewy not only won the rally, but won every single stage along the way, avoided mechanical disasters, and even weathered the death of her team-mate, Hermann Kühne. Her experience as a roving veterinary assistant in rural Sweden had found an unlikely use.

Ewy and Ursula in Argentina (Image from

The experience, although it must have been thrilling, was also a wearying one, and made her consider seriously whether she wanted to continue with rallying afterwards. By this time, her marriage to Yngve was over, and she was exhausted. She sat out the season-ending RAC Rally.

Over the winter break, she decided to continue. The Monte was never her best event, but she won the Ladies’ Cup in 1963, in the Mercedes 220 SE, with Ursula Wirth on the maps. She was 16th overall. Between then and the Acropolis Rally in May, she and Ursula parted company temporarily. Ewy’s co-driver in Greece was Heikke Krause, a German. They were twelfth. An electrical fault put her out of the Alpine Rally in June, then a rare accident dropped her from the Polish Rally standings. Later in the year, she and Ursula teamed up again, to defend their Argentine title. Despite a strong performance, they were third overall.

In between, she had her first taste of international touring car racing, driving a Mercedes 220 SE, with Ursula and Eberhard Mahle, in the Nürburgring 6 Hours. They were fifth overall, and won their class.

1964 began in a similar way. The 220 SE was still competitive, although newer Mercedes models were being used by other members of the team, and the BMC Minis were starting to come into their own. Ewy, assisted by her new regular co-driver, Eva Maria Falk, was a disappointing 38th in Monte Carlo, just behind Sylvia Osterberg. Snow was never her best surface, despite being from a Nordic country. In a warmer location, Portugal, she was fifteenth in the ACP International Rally. Then it was time for the Acropolis, a rough rally which suited Ewy’s measured, but quick, driving style. She was fifth. Later, she was sixth in the Spa-Sofia-Liège Rally, another tough marathon event. Her last rally of the year was another trip to Argentina, where she was third again.

Shortly afterward, she announced her retirement, at the age of 35. She joked with the Argentine media about becoming a housewife and learning to cook, but as she was preparing to marry Baron Alexander von Korff, head of the Mercedes competition department and hereditary peer, this was probably unnecessary.

Although Ewy never competed seriously again, she remained involved with the motoring scene, was a test driver, and to this day, acts as a brand ambassador for Mercedes. When not involved with Mercedes, she worked as a multilingual tour guide in a museum in Stuttgart.

She was immensely popular in both Sweden and Argentina, and was the subject of many newspaper articles and TV sections. She was Swedish Sportswoman of the Year in 1961. Both Ewy and Ursula, despite their love for the toughest of terrain, were always well-dressed and ready for a photo opportunity, long before this was standard practice for international motorsport stars.

Ewy is now a widow, and lives in Stockholm, after some time spent in Germany.

(This piece owes a lot to, a fan page created with Ewy’s co-operation.)