Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Female Rally Drivers After 1950: Italy in the 21st Century


Federica Lio

This post discusses the large number of Italian rally drivers who have begun their careers since 2000. For earlier Italian rally drivers, look here.

Sara Baldacci - started her career as a co-driver in 2004, and still navigates as well as driving herself. Her first rally as a driver was the Rallysprint Monteregio in 2006. driving a Peugeot 106. She returned to Monteregio in an MG ZR in 2011, to take part in the Ronde del Monteregio, and was 61st. In 2013, she had a bigger programme of events as a driver. One highlight was a class win on the Rally del Friuli Venezia Giulia. She was 42nd overall. That year, she used both a Citroen C2 and a Citroen Saxo, both running in class A6. In 2014, she spent most of the year in the co-driver's seat, but made at least two starts in Italian rallies. She came 49th in the Rally del Ciocchetto and the Rally Alta Val di Cecina, using a Clio and a Saxo respectively. In 2015, she rallied a Peugeot 208, and had a best finish of 35th in the Alta Val di Cecina. For 2016, she returned to the co-driver's seat.


Luciana Bandini – active in Italian rallies since at least 2001. Her first car was a Peugeot 205, but for most of her career, she has driven a Renault Clio. Her career best finish is 21st, in the 2015 Coppa Città di Lucca. That season, she went back to rallying a 205. In the same car, she achieved a class win in the Reggello e Valdarno Fiorentino Rally, and was 24th overall.  Among the co-drivers she worked with in 2015 was fellow driver, Susanna Mazzetti.  She was competing against Barbara Lencioni for the Italian women’s title. In 2016, she rallied a Renault Clio Williams, and scored three top-twenty finishes. The best of these was a seventeenth place in the Rally Alta Val di Cecina. 

Monica Burigo - Italian Ladies’ rally champion in 2007, and winner of ladies’ prizes in Italian rallying since 1995. She has been involved in the major national scene since 2000, when she drove a Renault Clio in the Italian championship. After that, she switched to a Fiat Seicento, followed by another Clio, an Astra, a Subaru Impreza, a Saxo and another Clio. Her best result, 16th, came on the Rally Apennino Ligure in 2000. In 2008, she drove a Clio in European events, including the Mille Miglia rally, as well as doing some circuit racing in a BMW 1-series in Italy. In 2009, she moved away from stage rallying to compete in drifting in Japan, and in 2010, she combined drifting, appearances at car shows and a few rallies, some in a camera car. Since then, she seems to have concentrated on drifting, snow racing and record-breaking.


Anna Dusi – co-driver and driver active since 2001. As a driver, she has mainly competed in historic rallies in Italy. In 2014, she rallied a Fiat Ritmo and won her class twice, including a ninth place overall in the Rally Città di Modena Storico. In 2015, she tried out some more modern machinery, and was 26th in the Rally Bianco-Azzurro in San Marino. The car was a Renault Clio. She tried out more small cars in 2016, a Peugeot 106 and a Citroen Saxo. Her best finish was a 38th place in the Rallye Due Valli, driving the Peugeot. As a co-driver, she has been part of a rally-winning team with Stefano Ciresola, in both historic and modern rallies.

Corinne Federighi – young driver who rallies small cars in Italy. Her career began in 2014, in a Fiat 600, which was exchanged part-way through the year for a Renault Twingo, which she continues to use. That year, she concentrated on tarmac events. In 2015, she entered the Twingo R2 Trophy, and registered for the Italian ladies’ championship. After winning four Coupes des Dames, she was awarded the Italian Ladies' championship. The Targa Florio was one of the best rallies of her year, with fourth in the Junior class for drivers under 25, and 24th overall, but she did even better in the Roma Capitale Rally, finishing fourteenth, and winning the Ladies' and Junior awards. She was third in both the Junior and Twingo championships. In 2016, she won the Coppa ACI Ladies' championship, driving a Renault Clio. Her best overall result was 22nd, in the Rally del Friuli Venezia Giulia. She was second in class.  

Paola Fedi - a regular in Italian rallies between 2001 and 2004, and 2009 to the present day. She did not start rallying seriously until she was 30. Her car is always a Renault Clio of some description. At first, she used a Clio Williams, and was fourteenth in the 2001 Rally Salento. Later, her seasons were affected by various problems, and she did not often finish. In 2012, she drove two different Clios, a S1600 model and an R3, and had a good season, with one 17th-place finish in the Rally degli Abeti e Dell’Abetone, and two just outside the top 20, in the Monteregio and Maremma events. In 2014, in a S1600 Clio, she scored her first top ten: ninth in the Rally Elba Nazionale, with a class win. She came close again on the Rally del Casentino, in which she was twelfth. That year, she also drove a Renault Twingo in some rallies. In 2015, she was less active, driving the Clio in two Italian national events. 

Christine Giampaoli - Italian driver, despite being born in India and mainly competing in the Canary Islands. She rallies for her own team, Gazoline Motorsports, which also seems to prepare cars for others. Her first rally appears to have been the Corralejo-Majanicho Rallysprint in 2013, although she did not even get to the start in her VW Golf, as the rally was cancelled. She returned in 2014, and her first event was the San Bartolomé slalom. Christine, the only non-Spanish entrant, was 25th overall, driving a Toyota Corolla. The Toyota remained her favoured car in 2014, and her first stage rally, the Tierra Isla Verde Rally, gave her a fourteenth place, with a class win. She achieved two more top-twenty finishes in the Canary Islands, and was 18th in the islands’ gravel championship, with a class win. In slaloms, she did even better, with a best finish of fourth in the Isla de Lanzarote-Tinjo event. She was 16th overall in the Canary Islands Gravel championship. In 2015, she combined slaloms and stage rallies again, and achieved her first top ten on the stages, a ninth place in the Isla de los Volcanes Rally. Her car was the Corolla. She entered five rallies that year, but was plagued by car trouble, and only finished two of them. In 2016, she started the year with slaloms, in a Subaru Impreza, then moved on to the Spanish gravel rally championship, in a Peugeot 208. Her best finish was sixteenth, in the Rally Ciutat de Valls in Catalunya, which was actually a tarmac rally. She also entered the WRC RAlly Catalunya, and was 49th. She was the top female driver in the Spanish gravel champion and third in the Junior class, as well as third in the overall Spanish women's championship. 

Barbara Lencioni - has been rallying in Italy since 2007, always driving a Renault Clio. In 2009, she put herself on the map and won the National and International Ladies’ cups for Italy. In 2010, she did not do as well, and was plagued by retirements, and she missed most of 2011, due to pregnancy. However, she came back in 2012. In 2013, she was more competitive in the overall standings, achieving a top-twenty position (19th) in the Rally di Valdinievole. She was second in the S1600 class, and finished quite strongly in class on other rallies that year. In 2014, she rallied a Jolly Racing Team Clio, in the S1600 class. Her best finish was 27th , in the Rally Casciana Terme. As ever, she was co-driven by Alessandra Benedetti.

Federica Lio - erstwhile co-driver who has switched to the driving seat full-time. She drove a Fiat 600 Abarth in Italian and European rallies in 2010, including the IRC-counting Rallye Sanremo, in which she was 37th. She also competed in the car in 2009, and was 60th in the Sanremo rally. Previously, she only drove occasionally, and navigated for a series of drivers in both historic and modern machinery. Her normal co-driver is Serena Giuliano. They were 44th overall in the 2011 Rallye Sanremo, in the Fiat. In 2012, they competed in the Fiat Sei 100 Cup, rallying mainly in Italy. She was second in the championship. She continued rallying the 600 in Italy in 2013. Her best finish was 33rd, in the Rallye Sanremo. In 2014, she achieved her first top-ten finish, a fifth place in the National section of the Sanremo Rally. Her other results were solid, but less spectacular. In 2015, she was third in the Italian womens' championship, winning the Coupe des Dames in Sanremo. She was 36th overall, and also won her class. Her best result was 29th, in the Valli del Giarolo Rally. Her car was again a Fiat Seicento. In 2016, she did some rallies in France, in a Fiat Seicento. Her best finish was 33rd, in the Jean Behra National Rally, and she also won her class in the Escarene National Rally. 

(Maria) Gabriella Mainiero - Italian driver who appears to have begun her career in the navigator’s seat, in 1998. More recently, she has driven Mitsubishi Lancers and a Renault Clio in the Italian championship. In 2005, she had a best result of 30th in the Rally Internationale Oltrepo, and that year, she was frequently in the top five of her class. In 2007, she took part in the Italian rounds of the IRC, with a best finish of 40th in Sanremo,driving a Lancer Evo 9. In 2008 and 2009, she repeated this programme, taking in the revived Targa Florio, Mille Miglia and Costa Smeralda rallies. She was the Italian Ladies’ champion in 2005, 2008 and 2009. Using a Lancer Evo IX, she drove in major rallies in 2011, including the Mile Miglia and Rally del Friuli de delle Alpe Orientali.

Susanna Mazzetti - regular navigator to Alessio Santini since 2010, who now competes as a driver in her own right. She began in 2013, driving a Renault Clio S1600. Her best result was 29th, in the Rally degli Abeti d Dell’Abetone, and she also won the S1600 class. That year, she was also her local ladies’ champion. In 2014, she continued in the same car, driving mostly in Italy Rallyday events, with Rita Ferrari as co-driver. She had one finish, a 50th place in the Rally del Carnevale. This is in addition to her navigation duties, which included a win with Alessio Santini. She continued to rally the Clio in 2016, and earned a second in class in the Rally Terra Sarda, finishing 28th overall. 

Rebecca Mei - driver and co-driver active since 2013. For her first season, she used a Fiat 600 Sporting in some Italian rallies, co-driven by Giulia Antongiovanni. Her best finish was 33rd, in the Rally Ronde dei Colli Luni. In 2014, she initially continued with the Fiat and scored her first top-twenty finish - 17th in the Rally il Ciocco e Valle del Serchio. She then started rallying a Renault Clio Williams, and was fourteenth, second in class, in the National Elba Rally. This was her best result of the year. She also drove a Citroen Saxo in 2014, but it was not as successful. As a navigator, she usually sits alongside either Simone Mei, her father, or Lorenzo Bonuccelli, in a variety of smaller cars.


Silvia Micheletti – mainly a co-driver, active since 2001, although she has driven some rallies of her own, between 2003 and 2008. One of her first rally cars was a Lancia Delta HF Integrale, but she has had better results in more modern machinery. In 2004, she did a full season of rallying in Italy, in a Peugeot 206. Her best finish was 29th, in the Rally Tutta Terra Toscana. After that, she competed only sporadically, although she continued to navigate for different drivers. Her last rally as a driver was the 2008 Mille Miglia, in a Fiat Punto. She did not finish.

Tamara Molinaro – mainly known as a co-driver, sitting beside Luca Maspoli and Gigi Galli. She also drives herself on occasion, usually using a Citroen. In 2013 and 2014, she did some rallies in her native Italy in a Citroen C2. The best of these for her was a 42nd place in the Misano World Circuit Rally Event. In 2016, she drove an Opel Adam as the course car in the Schneebergland Rallye in Austria, with Ilka Minor as her co-driver. 

Vanessa Polonia – began rallying at the age of 18, and having done a few rallies in a Peugeot 106, jumped straight into the Monte Carlo Rally, a few months later, in 2009. She was 29th, third in class, in a Suzuki Swift. After that, she returned to Italian rallies, and the Peugeot 106, a car she still used in 2015. For several seasons, she rallied around Italy, often in the Alpe Adria Rally Cup. In 2014, she had a best result of 30th overall, in the Rally di Majano, second in class. In 2015, she was one of the leading drivers in the Italian women’s championship, after a Coupe des Dames in the Rally Il Ciocco e Valli del Serchio. Her best overall finish has been 23rd, in the Rally Day Cittá di Maniago. She was fifth in the womens' championship.

Silvia Rocchi - driver and co-driver active since 2010. She has sat beside a number of Italian and Swiss drivers, and earned top-ten finishes. As a driver, she has mostly used a Renault Clio, sticking to asphalt rallies in the Lombardy region, which stretches into Switzerland. 2016 was her best year, and she was partnered by the experienced Swiss navigator, Tania Canton. Her best result was a 40th place in the Ronde Gomitolo di Lana, and she was third in class. She won that year’s Lombardy Ronde Women’s Cup.


Giovanna (Jenny) Rubini – has rallied on and off, in and around Italy, since 2000. Her first car seems to have been a Renault Clio. Since her first major rallies in 2000, she has driven a Subaru Impreza, Autobianchi A112 Abarth, Ford Fiesta and SEAT Ibiza, among others. The SEAT is her most recent car. In 2014 and 2015, she has rallied it in San Marino, and she was 27th in the 2015 Rally Bianco-Azzurro. Her best overall results have been two 21st places, achieved in 2014. One was in the Impreza, at an Imola rally event, and the other was in the San Marino Rallylegend event, in a VW Golf. As well as driving, she has also done some navigating in modern and historic rallies.


Silvia Spinetta - driver and co-driver, active since at least 2011. As a driver, her usual car is a Peugeot 106, and since 2015, this has often been run by the Scuderia Monferrato. Silvia’s best events are the shorter rallies, and her best overall result was a 42nd place in the 2015 Rally del Colli del Luni. As a navigator, she has helped Simone Miele to at least two wins, as well as sitting alongside Elisa Spinetta, presumably her sister, who has also co-driven for her on occasion.

Giulia de Toni – winner of the Italy Rally Talent contest in 2014, despite having never done any rallying before. That year, she participated in four rallies in Italy, using a Peugeot 106, a Renault Clio and a Peugeot 208. She was third in the Rally Talent section of the Bologna Motor Show. Her prize in 2015 was a supported drive in a Peugeot 208. Her best finish has been 37th, in the Rally Il Ciocco e Valli del Serchio, and she was also 40th in the Rallye Sanremo. She was second in the Italian womens' championship. Her usual co-driver is Sofia Peruzzi.

Sabrina Tumolo - active in Italy since at least 2002, when she drove a Renault Clio Williams in events including the Rally Cittá de Schio. She continued with this car in 2003. In 2010, she was still using this car in Italian national rallies, as well as a Peugeot 205, although it is not clear whether she has competed continuously. In 2007, she is also recorded as rallying a Citroen C2. In 2011, she was very active in the Italian championship again, and was named Italy’s top female driver. She remained active between 2013 and 2015, driving the Clio still. Her best finish was 23rd, in the Rally Cittá di Modena. In 2016, she rallied three different cars: a Mini Cooper, a Clio and a Peugeot 106. She was ninth in the Rally Day della Romagna in the Clio. Away from rallying, she is also involved in the business side of motorsport. 


Lucia Zambiasi – active as a driver in Italian rallying, between 2000 and 2006. She switched between three cars: a SEAT Ibiza for the 2001 season, Opel Astras, and a Renault Clio Williams. She was probably most successful in the Astra, which she used at the beginning and the end of her career. Her best overall result was 26th, in the Rally di Cagliari in 2000. She was driving the Astra, and was fourth in class N3. During her career, she also scored top thirty finishes in the Piancavallo and Targa Florio rallies, among others. After retiring from the driving seat in 2001, she stayed involved in rallying as a navigator. This was something she had always done on and off, but she now competes almost full-time in the Italian historic championship.

(Image from http://www.formulaitalia.info)

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