Monday, 14 December 2015

"Charlotte" (Cécile de Montgolfier)

"Charlotte" in 1975

“Charlotte” was a French rally driver of the early 1970s. She never used her given name in connection with motorsport. She was from the Ardèche region, and worked as an ambulance driver.

Her career began in hillclimbs, in a VW, and later, an Alpine-Renault 1100 and a Porsche 911. Her rally career started in the navigator’s seat in 1970. The Paris-St.Raphaël Rally is described as her first event, although the name of the driver, and the make of the car, is lost. They did not finish, following a roll.

In 1972, she started driving herself, usually in an Alpine-Renault A110 Berlinette. Although she always drove as an amateur, she received sponsorship from Esso. This, and her choice of car, has led to some confusion between her and the drivers of Team Aseptogyl. Charlotte was never an Aseptogyl team member.

Her biggest achievement in 1972 was probably her win in the National class of the Paris-St. Raphaël Rally. She also won two other class awards, driving an Alpine-Renault 1600 with Annie Hanriot.

By 1973, she was tackling some of the big French events, including the Tour de Corse, in a Gordini-engined Renault 12. She did not finish. That year, she was also the runner-up in the Paris-St. Raphaël Rally, in an Alpine-Renault. With Marie-José Hommel, she competed in the Tour de France, but her attempt ended at the Montjuic Park circuit, due to problems with the Alpine during a speed test. In the same car, she was twelfth in the Ronde Cévenole.

In 1974, she was fourth in the Paris-St. Raphaël, and competed in the Tour de France, in the Alpine-Renault, although she did not finish. Her best result was a 15th place in the Rallye du Var. Her other rallies, including the Tour de Corse, mostly ended in DNFs, although she was seventh in class in the Mont Blanc Rally. She did better in hillclimbs, winning several Coupes des Dames and placing well in her class. Another try at the Tour de France led to more frustration, after a spin at Magny-Cours, again during a speed trial, put her out of the running.

In 1975, she tried circuit racing, in the Coupe Renault Elf Gordini. This decision was partly motivated by her amateur status; rallying, at the level of which she was capable, required time for recce and preparations, which circuit racing did not. Charlotte was one of two female drivers in the Coupe, driving a modified Renault 5, the other being Joëlle Pasquier. She was thirteenth on the Le Mans Bugatti circuit, and eighth at Albi. Later in the season, she planned to team up with Corinne Tarnaud for another Tour Auto, in a Porsche 911 this time.

Sadly, this was not to be. Charlotte was killed in a road traffic accident, whilst attending another car crash with her ambulance, in September 1975. She was 29 years old.

(Image from

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