Sunday, 26 July 2015

Female Drivers in Truck Racing

Minna Kuoppala in 1995

Women drivers have enjoyed some success in truck racing, both in Europe, especially France, and in the Brazilian Formula Truck series. Heather Baillie, Divina Galica, Ellen Lohr and Stephanie Halm have all also competed in truck racing, in Europe.

Marcia Arcade – Brazilian driver who was the first woman to race in Formula Truck, in 1998. Her truck was a Scania, and she was not initially among the front-runners. She contested six races in 1998 and 1999. In 2001, she entered three more races, in a Ford truck, but again, did not challenge for wins. She was nicknamed “Furaçao”, or “Hurricane”.

Reinhilde Braun – German driver who raced in the European championships in the mid-1990s. Her first major season was 1994, and she was fifth in the Truck class. In 1995, driving a Mercedes, she finished eighth in the championship. In 1996, she ran her own racing team, with Sisu trucks and Minna Kuoppala as driver, with some success. Further details about Reinhilde’s career are proving hard to find. She may have also been involved in the haulage trade.

Jennifer Janiec – French driver who raced trucks in Europe between 2009 and 2011. In 2009 and 2010, she finished tenth in the French truck racing championship. In 2011, she took part in the European championship round at the Nürburgring, in a MAN. Her best finish was 16th. Her first European outing was one of her first major truck races, in 2008. She was 17th overall at Barcelona. In 2012, she was down as a reserve driver for the Le Mans truck race, but it is unclear whether she got to drive. She had raced at the event the year before. Previously, she raced single-seaters and small sportscars in France, including four seasons of Formula Renault, from 2007. She is from a family of truck racers, and her brother, Jean-Pierre, remains active in the sport.

Minna Kuoppala – Finnish driver active in truck racing in the 1990s. She raced in the European championships between 1994 and 1998. Her first season gave her eighth in the SuperTruck class. In 1995, she was ninth in the Super-Truck class. In 1996, she drove for Reinhilde Braun’s Mercedes team, finishing sixth in the Truck class.  After a lull in competition, she was seventh in the Truck class in 1998. In 1993, she had won her class in the British championship, and was fourth in class B in the European series. Her trucks were usually Finnish-built Sisus. Earlier in her career, she raced single-seaters in Finland. In 1989, she was fifth in the Finnish Formula Ford 1600 championship. Even earlier, she competed in karting, against Mika Häkkinen and Taru Rinne.

Laurine Orsini – races trucks in France. 2015 was her debut season, driving for her family’s team (both her father and brother are ex-truck racers). Her truck is a Mercedes Axor. Coming into the French championship with no prior motorsport experience, she was not one of the front-runners, and finished in 16th place, with four points. Previously, she competed in eventing on her horse. She did another season in the French championship in 2016, in the same truck. Her final position was fourteenth, having scored points in two of her three races. 

Aline Rambeau – French driver who raced trucks in the 2000s. In 2005, she took part in the European championship, in the Supertruck class, driving a MAN race truck. She was relatively competitive, and a regular visitor to the top ten. The best moment of her season was a win in the 24 Hours of Le Mans Camions. Her final championship position is not currently forthcoming. Her first season of truck racing seems to have been in 2002, when she also raced a MAN in the Coupe de France, and was third in the championship. As well as racing trucks on circuits, she also took part in rally raids, in the Truck class. She entered the 2004 Dakar in a Mercedes, and also did some other cross-country rallies. Her co-driver was Jo Adua.  

Débora Rodrigues - truck racer from Brazil. She has been competing in Formula Truck since 1998, and in recent years, has driven in rounds of  the Brazilian and South American championships. So far, she is the only woman to do so. Her best championship finish has been sixth, in 2006. She was tenth in the 2011 South American series. In recent years, her best race finish has been fifth, at Cascavel in 2012. In 2013, she managed another tenth in the South American championship, after running in both the Brazilian and SudAm series. Her race truck is always a Volkswagen. Away from truck racing, she is a TV presenter and former model. She also branched out into cars in 2013, entering two rounds of the Mitsubishi Lancer Cup. She returned to trucks in 2014, in a MAN, and raced in both championships. Her best finish in Formula Truck was a seventh place, in Buenos Aires. She was 16th in the championship. In 2015, she was twelfth in Formula Truck, driving a MAN. She mostly finished in the lower half of the top ten. This improved to ninth in 2016, with a best finish of fourth, at Campo Grande. She had a dramatic crash during her 2016 season and does not appear to have raced in 2017. 

Lenka Vlachova – Czech driver who did a season of European truck racing in 2000. Her truck was a Sisu, run by Martin Koloc’s team. Although she was not one of the front-runners in the championship, she managed to score a few points, and was fourteenth in the final standings. Lenka may have done some truck racing in the Czech Republic previously, but further information is proving hard to track down.

(Image from


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  3. Further details about Reinhilde’s career are proving hard to find. She may have also been involved in the haulage trade.
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  4. Had the pleasure to meet Minna Kuoppala in person back in the nineties. What an impressive lady. BTW her nickname was Hakkappeliita.

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