Thursday, 30 November 2017

Manuela Gostner

Manuela Gostner raced in the 2017 European GT4 Championship, driving a Maserati. She is best known for driving a Ferrari. Unusually, she was almost 30 when she started competing.

She is the elder sister of Corinna Gostner, who races in the Coppa Shell Ferrari Challenge with Manuela and their father, Thomas. Their brother, David, also races. It was he who encouraged Manuela to take the wheel of his Ferrari at a test day in 2014.

She started racing only a few months later, at Brno. Her sister Corinna made her debut at the same time. Corinna finished just above Manuela in the first race, in tenth, and they swapped places for the second. Manuela returned for the season finale in Abu Dhabi. She was 20th in the championship.

In 2015, she enjoyed a bigger racing programme and contested the entire Coppa Shell Ferrari Challenge. Her car was a Ferrari 458 run by Ineco-MP Racing, who ran her in her first races. She started slowly but soon learned the car. By the third round at Mugello, she was into the top ten. In September, she broke into the top five for the first time, at Imola, and repeated this at Valencia. She was twelfth in the championship.

In 2016, she raced both with and against Corinna: in the Ferrari Challenge, she was not quite as competitive, earning two top tens, the best of these being a ninth at Monza. She finished 21st overall. She and her sister shared the Ferrari in two Italian GT Championship rounds at Mugello, and were eighth and sixth in the GT Cup class. They were racing against their brother and father in another MP Racing Ferrari.

She made a move into the European GT4 championship in 2017. Her Maserati Gran Turismo  MC was run by Villorba Corse. She was third in the Am category, just in front of her Villorba team-mates, Romy Dall’Antonia and Giuseppe Fascicola. She won her class at Brands Hatch and Zandvoort and was third at the Red Bull Ring.

The Coppa Shell had not been forgotten. Back with the Ineco-MP team, she did most of the European Ferrari Challenge, and had a best finish of sixth at Paul Ricard. She was also sixth in the World Final at Mugello.

She was third in the 2018 Ferrari Challenge, winning races at Catalunya and Monza. Monza was also the scene of her third place in the World Finals. Away from the Ferrari Challenge, she raced a 488 for Kessel Racing in some bigger races. In October, she was fourth in the GT3 class in the Michelin Le Mans Cup at the Algarve circuit, sharing with Giorgio Sernagiotto. In December, she was part of an all-female team for the Gulf 12 Hours, alongside Michelle Gatting and Rahel Frey. They were second in class and sixth overall.

Her GT4 success has earned her a first FIA driver classification of Bronze. The Kessel team recruited Manuela and her Gulf 12 Hours team-mates for a campaign in the 2019 European Le Mans Series. The three women raced as the "Iron Dames" and became the first all-female team at Le Mans itself for almost ten years. They finished 38th overall and ninth in the GTE Am class, ahead of their all-male "sister" car.

In the wider ELMS series, Manuela and her team-mates had their fair share of car problems, but they still managed class second places at Silverstone and Paul Ricard, on their way to fourth in their class championship.

The Iron Dames got back together for the 2019 Gulf 12 Hours and were running in a strong fourth place when contact with a backmarker caused their retirement.

Away from the circuits, she competed internationally at both indoor and beach volleyball before having her two daughters.

(Image from

Saturday, 25 November 2017

Ashley Freiberg

Ashley (centre) on the Sebring podium

Ashley Freiberg has competed in the prestigious Daytona 24 Hours and Sebring 12 Hour races. She is a racewinner in the IMSA GT Challenge series and the Continental Sportscar Challenge.

Ashley began her senior racing career in 2008, after several successful seasons in karting.
Initially, she progressed through the Skip Barber racing school ranks, and in 2009, she was the first female winner of a Skip Barber National Series event, in New Jersey.

Initially she specialised in single-seaters. She did her first Formula Star Mazda races in 2009, before winning another National Series race in a Formula Mazda, and then winning the 2010 Skip Barber Summer Series outright. She added to her win tally with another Summer Series race victory in 2011.

In 2012, she competed in Formula Star Mazda full-time, and was eleventh in the championship. Her best finish was sixth, at Baltimore.

After this, she switched to sportscar racing, and contested the 2013 IMSA GT Challenge, in a Porsche 997. In her first season, she won once at Watkins Glen, a first for a female driver, and was second twice, at the Glen and Monterey. She was ninth in the championship, after missing the last round.

In 2014, she made history again by winning the Continental Sportscar Challenge race at Daytona, supporting the 24 Hours, in a BMW M3 Coupe. Funding was an issue, but she did secure enough sponsorship to race again and took part in another four Challenge races. Her best finish was seventh, at Laguna Seca.

In 2015, she was a BMW North America Scholarship driver, and raced an M3 in the Continental Sportscar Challenge again. She won one race at Road Atlanta. This was one of three podium finishes: the others were a second at Watkins Glen and a third at Road America. Her co-driver was Trent Hindman.

In 2016, she competed in the Daytona 24 Hours and Sebring 12 Hours for Turner Motorsport, in a BMW M6. She was second in class at Sebring, and 23rd overall. Later in the season, she drove for the team again at Road Atlanta, and was ninth in the GTD class. In between, she tried out a prototype for Starworks Motorsport and contested another three rounds of the Weathertech Sportscar Championship. The car was an LMP2 and she secured two class finishes, at Long Beach and Laguna Seca. She was a temporary team-mate to class winners, Alexander Popow and Renger van der Zande.

She stuck with sportscars for 2017 and entered the Lamborghini Super Trofeo, contesting the Pro class with DAC Motorsport. This resulted in five podium finishes from eight races, the best of these being second at Watkins Glen, her lucky track. She was third overall, just behind her earlier team-mate, Trent Hindman. She had taken a chance with her entry and was not sure how her season would go. Early on, she described her plans as “going race by race”.

In 2018, she only made one major race appearance: the Daytona 24 Hours. She raced in the IMSA Continental Tires Sportscar Challenge with Gosia Rdest, driving an Audi R8. They were 18th in their race.

She is also making a name for herself in cyclocross.

(Image from

Saturday, 18 November 2017

Female Drivers in TC2000 in Colombia

Miriam Gil and Maria Paula Martinez

Colombia has a thriving saloon racing scene. Its premier touring car championship is TC2000 (Turismo Carretera). This is a multi-class championship with two sections for novice drivers (Academy), plus a Junior class and a main TC2000 class. Women drivers have been a feature of TC2000 for many seasons now. Most are from Colombia, but the championship also attracts drivers from the surrounding countries.

Maria Isabel Bonilla – Colombian driver who races touring cars in her domestic championship. Between 2012 and 2013, she took part in the Colombian TC (Turismo Carretera) Academy, in an attempt to get onto the professional racing circuit. Her cars were a SEAT and a Mazda. She was most successful in the SEAT in 2012, and managed one podium place. In 2016, after a break, she raced a Chevrolet in the TC2000 series in Colombia, in the Junior class. She was the highest-placed driver in her region and was sixteenth overall in the championship. She did another part-season in the junior series in 2018, driving a Hyundai. In 2019, she made an unusual move: going to France to contest a couple of rounds of the Clio Cup, as well as some rounds of the TC Junior class.

Maria Isabel Cajiao - raced in the TC2000 touring car series in Colombia. She competed in 2005 and 2006, driving a Honda in 2006 at least. Both years, she was seventh in the championship, and the leading female driver. After 2006, she was linked to a drive in a “PanAm” Grand Prix series, but this did not happen. Little other information about Maria Isabel’s other racing activities, or biographical data, appears to exist.

Jennifer Cañon - has raced touring cars in Colombia since 2014. Her first year in cars ended in a second place in the Academy B Class of Colombia’s TC2000, driving a Citroen. She repeated this in the the more competitive A class in 2015. A second season in the A class in 2016 was not as successful, and she was 22nd after missing the first two rounds. She did another incomplete season in the Citroen in 2017, and was 36th in the championship. She has also done some endurance races, including the 6 Hours of Bogota. She raced a Citroen in TC2000 in 2018 for a part-season, scoring two fourth places. In 2019, she moved back to the Academy A class for a couple of rounds.

Miriam Gil - Venezuelan driver who races in TC2000 in Colombia. In 2017, she formed an all-female team with Maria Paula Martinez, for karting and TC2000. She raced a Lada in the second-string TC2000 series in 2017. Most of Miriam’s experience has been in karting, but she first raced in touring cars in 2014. She drove a Chevrolet in the Academy B class of Colombian TC2000 and was promoted to the A class before the end of the season, although she could not make the top-three shootout. In 2018, she was one of the founding members of the all-female SWS team with Mapa Martinez and Paola Oliveros. Miriam was seventh in the junior championship, driving a Chevrolet.  She raced in the TC Junior series in 2019, in two different cars.

Mary (Maribel) Gonzalez - finished eighth in the 2017 Colombian TC2000 Academy B class, driving a Fiat 147. She is another driver whose consistent approach is her strong point; her best finish seems to have been a fifth place. She shared the car with Edwin Carrillo, who used it in the Academy A class. 2017 appears to have been her first season in TC2000.

Maria Paula Martinez – Colombian touring car driver who started racing cars as a junior. 2013 seems to have been her debut season. In 2015, she won the TC2000 Academy development series outright. Her car was a Chevrolet Swift. Prior to this, in 2014, she was one of the top five Academy drivers. Her first year included a win in a Ladies’ race in TC2000. In 2016, she raced the Chevrolet in the Junior class of TC2000 Colombia, and was 39th overall after a strong, but short, part-season. She returned in 2019 and was fourteenth in the Junior championship.

Maria Camila Medina - drove in the Colombian TC2000 touring car series between 2005 and 2007. She began with a part-season in 2005, before  two more substantial efforts at the championship. Her best overall finish was 30th, in 2006. Details of her cars are not widely recorded. At the end of 2007, she was linked to a drive in European Formula 3000, but this does not appear to have happened. In 2009, she is listed as a driver for the Petrobras 6 Hours of Bogota race, driving a Van Dieman. She did a couple of Latam Formula 2000 races in Miami in 2014, and was fifth and sixth, representing Colombia.

Paola Oliveros - raced in TC2000 in Colombia in 2017, in the A class. Her car was a Suzuki Swift GTi and she was part of a female team with Miriam Gil and Maria Paula Martinez. Her final championship position was 16th in Class A. In 2018, she was tenth in Class A, driving a JAC. She repeated her finishing position in 2019. She has been racing since at least 2014, when she took part in a TC2000 ladies’ race in aid of breast cancer charities. Her car was a Chevrolet.

Tatiana Perez - raced an El Mako JAC in Colombian TC2000 in 2017. She was competing in the Academy B class. Her season started well enough, but she dropped out part-way through. This left her in 41st place in the drivers’ standings. 2017 was her second attempt at TC2000, having had a similar year in 2016, when she entered the first round, but did not finish due to electrical problems. She won the B class championship in 2018, driving a JAC and winning two races. She moved into the A class in 2019 for a part-season and was 29th in the championship.

Laura Rodriguez - finished joint second in the Colombian TC2000 Academy B class in 2017. She was driving a Mazda with her father, Javier. The duo’s consistent finishes helped them, although they have not quite managed to challenge for podiums. This was Laura’s second season in the series, after a couple of starts in 2016 in a Fiat. She made another four appearances in the B class in 2018, driving a Mazda, but did not score points.

Manuela Solorzano - raced a Peugeot in the Colombian TC2000 championship in 2017. She was competing in the TC A class, and was ninth overall. This was her second season in this championship and class; she was twelfth in 2016, in a similar car. This seems to have been her first season in a car. Previously, she was active in karting, and competed internationally between 2011 and 2015.

(Image from

Monday, 13 November 2017

Angelique Germann

Angelique and her team in 2016

Angelique Germann is a German driver who was racing in national-level Formula 3 in Europe. She was one of the front-runners in the CEZ series in 2017, after winning the German title in 2016.

Angelique’s father, Andreas, raced in Formula Three across Europe and continues to do so, therefore it was natural that she gravitated towards this style of competition. She began racing single-seaters in a serious way in 2014. That year, she raced in the mostly Eastern European-based Remus F3 Cup. Her car was a Dallara 305 Opel, run by her father’s racing team. Her best finishes were two ninth places, at Poznan, and another two top-tens at Salzburg.

She continued to race a Formula 3 car in 2015, entering two championships: the Central European Zone (CEZ) F3 series and the Remus F3 Cup, formerly Austrian F3. She used a Dallara F311 for both. Her F3 Cup season took in just over half of the championship. Her best result was a ninth place at Brno, at the end of the season. She was less successful in her part-season in the CEZ series, in which her best result was 17th at Brno. She did have the small consolation of finishing in front of her father, who was 18th.

As well as F3, both Angelique and Andreas had at least a guest appearance in the Italian F2 championship. Angelique was driving a Dallara F308 run by Franz Wöss Racing.

In 2016, she made something of a breakthrough in the sport. She entered the Central European Zone F3 championship and the Remus F3 Cup and performed well in both series. A highlight was winning a Cup race at Lausitz and finishing fifth in the championship. She was sixth in the CEZ championship, with a best finish of fifth. Her breakthrough race was the first CEZ round at Most, where she was seventh. Her fifth followed shortly afterwards. She was fifth in the Remus F3 Cup.

The German F3 Cup ran parallel with these two series. Despite a slightly shaky start at the Red Bull Ring, she won seven of the next ten races and took the championship comfortably. Her nearest rival was her father.

Her fourth season in Formula 3 was spent moving between the Remus Cup, the CEZ series and the German F3 Cup. Driving for Franz Wöss Racing again, she scored one win, at Hockenheim, and four second places, behind her team-mate Philipp Regensberger. Regensberger won the German championship and eleven out of the fourteen races.

She did not do quite as well in the European-based Remus series, although she held her own. Her best finish was a fourth place at Spa, and she was seventh overall. The CEZ championship seems to have run alongside the European one, as Angelique’s scores seem to be very similar.

She did not race in 2018. Towards the end of the year, she applied to take part in the all-female W Series in 2019, but had to drop out of the selection event with an injured foot.

Previously, she raced an NSU TT in historic events, from at least 2012, sometimes with her father.

Away from motorsport, she is a keen horsewoman.

(Image from

Thursday, 9 November 2017

Marisa Panagopulo

Marisa in 2012

Marisa Panagopulo is an Argentine driver, active since the 1990s.

Marisa’s early forays into motorsport were in karting and midget racing. She did race karts extensively from the age of about fourteen, sometimes with her brother, Carlos. It took a while for her to be able to move up to cars; she was still karting as a senior in 1986, when she was 18.

She seems to have started her senior career in 1994, in a Nissan Sentra, which she raced in the Copa Damas. This was a one-make series for female drivers, which was shown on television. She won the 1994 championship.

In 1995, she was part of Formula Hyundai Femenina, another touring car championship for female drivers. Her second year in cars gave her another winner’s trophy.

Her first appearance in the leading TC series was the 2 Hours of Buenos Aires in 1996. She shared a Ford Falcon with José Larroudé and finished 16th. This was the first of three races that she did in the Falcon, and her best finish. In a different car, a TTE prototype supported by Citroen, she made her debut in the Mil Milhas at Interlagos. Her team-mates were Delfina Frers and Suzane Carvalho. They do not seem to have finished.

That year, she also raced a Citroen AX and a Volkswagen Gol in one-make series. She appears to have won at least one race in the AX.

After that, she took a break from motor racing, partly due to finances. During her time away, she became a mother.

She returned to karting for many years, in order to satisfy her competitive urges.

Marisa made a circuit comeback in 2012. With Delfina Frers, Lorena Blanco and Carolina Eiras, she was part of an all-female team for the Fiat Linea Cup. She was ninth in the Rosario race.

Since then, she has returned to competitive karting, and made a guest appearance in the ASM Championship in 2014. She was driving a Fiat Uno. She also dabbles in historic racing.

(Image from