"Marisol", a competitor in the 1971 Costa del Sol Rally, driving a Fiat 124
In the early 1970s, the famous Paris-St.Raphaël women’s rally, in France, was in decline. Over the border in Spain, it was a very different story. The Spanish rally scene of the time had not just one women-only event, but a whole series of them, and a championship was awarded every year, from 1971 to 1975.
Women-only rallies had an even longer history in Spain: the Rallye Femenino San Isidro, later known as the SIASA Rally, began in 1967, and the Rallye Femina, based around Barcelona, ran from at least 1962.
The first ladies’ championship appears to have been held in 1969, but it only covered Catalonia. Nuria Viñas was the winner.
A full programme of five “rallyes femeninos” ran in 1970, but these were stand-alone events, with no championship awarded.
1971 Milagros Ortega/Yolanda Maruri (Renault R8 TS)
1972 Nuria Viñas/Maria Angeles Pujol (BMW 2002 Ti)
1973 Nuria Viñas/Ana Maria Garreta (BMW 2002 Ti)
1974 “Yolanda”/M. Robledo (Mini Cooper)
1975 Marisol Rodriguez Mesa/Maria Teresa Rodriguez Mesa (SEAT 124)
Numbers of entries for each rally varied, with 40 drivers finishing the 1971 Rallye Femenino Saibil, but between twelve and twenty was a more usual figure. The championship itself had 49 entrants in 1972, and entries remained quite high until 1975.
The rallies themselves varied somewhat in format, but were generally shorter than the mixed rallies of the time; normally less than 200km. Most included a regularity section, a slalom and one or more special stages.
A women’s championship continued to be awarded in Spain until 1978, but after 1975, the women-only events were discontinued. The trophy was awarded to the highest-placed female driver in the main Spanish championship. Regional womens’ championships continued to exist until 1980, but were much smaller than before.
1976 Maria José Ruedas/Ana Fuster (Opel Kadett)
1977 Nuria Llopis/Marta Llopis (Simca Rallye II)
1978 Paloma Landete/? (Chrysler Avenger)
The championship has been revived in recent years, and is now awarded to the highest-performing female driver in the Spanish championship.
For profiles of some of the drivers involved, please click here.
(Image taken from http://www.forocoches.com)