Monday, 1 August 2016

Lucette Pointet

Lucette (right) with Jacqueline Fougeray and the DS, after their 1966 Monte Coupe des Dames

Lucette Pointet was a French rally driver and co-driver, who often drove a Citroen DS.

Born in 1936, she started rallying at a young age, acting as a navigator to a family friend, Nicole Pizot, the daughter of Paul Pizot, another rally driver. Nicole’s rally car was a DB Panhard, which was an unusual choice, but seemed reliable enough. Some sources say that the duo began their automotive adventures in 1954 or 1955, with Lucette’s parents arranging her entry for the 1955 Monte Carlo Rally, but her name does not appear on the 1955 Monte entry list. They were definitely competing together early in 1959, when Nicole, with Lucette on the maps, was second in the Paris-St. Raphaël women’s rally. They first appear in the Monte in 1960, in the DB, starting at Paris, but are missing from the final classification. Apparently, their first event together was the Rally of Beaujolais, but the date of this is uncertain. Other sources state that Nicole Pizot only started rallying in 1958, which fits in with the Monte start lists.

Early in her career, she apparently drove karts as well as rally cars, but no information about this is forthcoming.

In 1961, she drove a Renault Dauphine 1093 in hillclimbs, running particularly well on snow and ice. This was her first experience of driving herself. As well as the climbs, she did some stage rallying, and proved a very capable driver, finishing third in the Neige et Glace Rally with Simone Petit. Navigation had not been forgotten, and this year, she sat beside drivers including Gérard Larrousse. The following year, she drove a Volvo in rallies and hillclimbs. The results are not forthcoming.

For the 1963 season, she became involved with the Paris-Île de France Citroen team, having met its manager, René Cotton, the previous year. This was her first time with a fully funded car, with her own recce vehicle and service crew. The car was a DS19; the DS was a model that would become almost synonymous with Lucette as a rally driver. She repaid Cotton’s confidence in her by winning the Paris-St. Raphaël Rally, despite a small crash and an attempt by another team to get her disqualified. They claimed that the loss of some bodywork in the accident left Lucette’s car underweight, but this was thrown out.

The rest of the 1963 season was spent as a navigator to Claudine Bouchet in another DS19. The pair figured strongly in Coupes des Dames, and Claudine was sixth overall in the Tour de Corse. After Claudine moved to the Lancia team for the 1964 season, Lucette took over as the team’s main Coupe des Dames hopeful.
Her 1964 co-driver was usually Françoise Houillon. The pair tackled the Monte Carlo and Acropolis rallies together, although it is not clear whether or not they finished. The Acropolis was a difficult event for them, as Lucette was struggling with illness, and had quite a severe crash at one point. As well as driving herself, navigation still remained part of her rallying life. She read the maps for Jean-Claude Ogier on the Alpine Rally.

The Paris-Île de France operation took over the running of the works Citroen team in 1965, taking Lucette with them. She continued in her dual role, utilising both the familiar DS19 and the newer DS21. She drove the latter on that year’s Monte, and was a respectable 25th overall, third in the Coupe des Dames rankings. She reverted to the DS19 as part of a ten-car Citroen attack on the East African Safari, and was fourteenth, third of the DS19s and winner of the Coupe des Dames. As it often was, the 1965 Safari was a real car-breaker, and the fact she finished at all is a testament to Lucette’s driving skill.

In 1966, Lucette and her new co-driver, Jackie Fougeray, finally won a Coupe des Dames on the Monte. Later in the year, in September, she added another Coupe to her collection, in the Alpine Rally, finishing in thirteenth. In between, she took part in the Geneva Rally, and was an excellent tenth. This was a privateer outing in a Panhard 24CT; Jean-Claude Ogier was third in a similar car. At the end of the season, she tackled the Rallye des Routes du Nord in a Citroen, but crashed out heavily at Reims, and had to be airlifted to hospital.

In addition to her international rallying activities, Lucette was a regular fixture in the French championship, usually in a Citroen. She won the French ladies’ championship in 1967. One of that year’s best results was an eighth overall in the Mont Blanc Rally. Her international outings that year were limited to a run in the Monte Carlo Rally, in which she was 33rd, behind Sylvia Österberg for the Coupe des Dames.

In 1968, she was runner-up in the French rally championship. On the international stages, she achieved a twelfth place in the Rally of Portugal, driving a DS21 with her new co-driver, Michèle Veron. Her two other world outings were the two classic French rallies, the Monte and the Tour de Corse, but she did not finish either. As a navigator, she was once again paired up with her partner, Jean-Claude Ogier, and helped him to win the Safari Calédonien Rally. Her brother lived on the island of New Caledonia, and the pair only entered after deciding to visit him, and being persuaded by a Citroen team.

Away from Citroen, Lucette also acted as a navigator to Rosemary Smith in the London-Sydney Marathon, in a Ford Lotus Cortina. They finished the gruelling event in 48th place. Rosemary had been tipped to win the Coupe des Dames, but a series of problems, including a cylinder failing on the car, having to drive backwards up the Khyber Pass, and almost becoming the victims of a highway robbery, dropped her and Lucette down to third. Communication difficulties between the pair did not help matters.

A much quieter year followed in 1969. Lucette, having travelled the world with Rosemary Smith in 1968, only did one major international rally, the Rally of Portugal. She drove a DS21, but did not finish. As a navigator, she helped Jean-Claude Ogier to another win in the Safari Calédonien Rally.

Lucette and Jean-Claude married in 1970, and continued to rally Citroens as a couple, with Lucette using the name Pointet-Ogier. Breaking one long-term relationship as she cemented another, she did some rallies in France as a driver, using a Ford Capri and Escort prepared by Ford France. Among the rallies she entered in the Escort was the Tour de Corse, which she did not finish. She was sixteenth in the Critérium Alpin and 24th in the Rallye Neige et Glace.

1971 was her last active season as a regular competitor. She navigated for Jean-Claude Vinatier in an Alpine-Renault, in France and also in the Rally of Jamaica.

Along with her husband, she came out of retirement for one event in 1982, to drive a Citroen Visa in the Acropolis Rally, which had been one of her first major rallies. Sadly, they did not get to the end. After that, she worked on the organising committee for French rallies, including the Tour de Corse and the Monte.
During her career, she was twice French ladies’ rally champion, although the dates are proving hard to track down. She was (and remains) quite a private person and not as much has been written about her as about some of her contemporaries, such as Claudine Trautmann. Relatively few photographs of her have been published.

Her daughter, Catherine Ogier-Falzon, has competed in rallies, and in recent years, has navigated for her father in historic events. Her son, Jean-Francois Pointet-Ogier, played ice hockey internationally prior to his untimely death in 2009.

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