Thursday, 13 December 2018

Rallycross in Scandinavia


Magda Andersson

The Scandinavian nations produce many rallycross drivers and women get in on the action too, especially in the national championships.


My Adolfsson - rallycross driver from Sweden. She raced in the Swedish junior championship in 2014, in a Vauxhall Corsa. Her first race came when she was still only 16. Due to car problems, she did not complete all the rounds. She was fifteenth overall in the NGK Masters, after finishing second in one of her qualifying races, then suffering more car trouble. Previously, she competed in Folkrace, from the age of fourteen, and she still races on occasion, in the Women’s class. Her 2015 season in the Swedish rallycross championship was badly affected by a leg injury to My, who sat out part of the year following surgery. At the end of the year, she returned for the season finale, driving her Corsa. She is or was part of Ramona Karlsson’s Young Female Drivers mentoring project. In 2017, she took part in Folkrace events.


Magda Andersson – Swedish rallycross driver who competes in the European championships. She began her rallycross career in 2012, at the age of fourteen, when she was second in the JRX (Junior Rallycross) Cup. After a couple of seasons in JRX and in the Swedish championship, she started racing in the Touring Car class of the ERC in 2015. Her car was a Ford Fiesta. She made her first final in the second round of the championship, at Lydden Hill, finishing fifth. She was then second at Estering in Germany, and third in her home race of Höljesbanan, which gave her fourth in the championship. She returned to the Touring Car championship for 2016 and won the first round. She was second in the category overall. In 2017, she changed car and team, to a Marklund Motorsport-run VW Polo. She entered the Supercar class for the first time, but found it hard going. Her best result was a sixth place in France and she was 16th in the championship.  


Camilla Antonsen - winner of the North European Zone 4WD Championship in 2010. Her car was a Ford Fiesta ST. She has been competing on and off in the Norwegian championship since 1998, after some time spent in autocross and rallying. Between 2002 and 2004, she also made various starts in the Norwegian Touring Car championship, driving a Vauxhall Vectra. Her best results were two podiums in 2003, leading to a seventh place in the series. In 2011, she was second in the NEZ 4WD championship, as well as taking part in the Scandinavian rounds of the European Championship and the top-level Norwegian series. In 2012, she won the Supercar division of the Norwegian championship, in the Fiesta. She was also seventh in the NEZ 4WD championship, after winning the Norwegian round. She switched to rallying in 2013, in a BMW M3 and Renault Twingo. Rallycross was not forgotten in 2014. She raced a Ford Fiesta in the European championship, in the Touring Car class, for part of the year. She won one round, in Germany. In rallying, she competed in two Norwegian events, coming 19th in the Numedals Rally, in a BMW M3. 2015 saw her back in the European rallycross championship, in the Fiesta. She was eleventh in the championship. In rallying, she did two Norwegian events in the BMW. In 2016, she did a couple of rallies in the BMW, and at least one rallycross meeting, but a lot of her cars seem to have been sold. She rallied the BMW and a Subaru Impreza in 2017, performing best in rallysprints. Her best finish was eleventh in the Gardermosprinten.


Susann Bergvall - Swedish rallycross driver who competed in the 1400cc class of the European Championship in the 1990s. She won the title in 1994, driving a Citroen AX Sport. In 1995, she was fifth, driving two different AX models. After that, she seems to fade from the racing scene, although she is known to have married Kenneth Hansen.


Pernille Brinkmann Larsen - competed in Danish rallycross in a Group N Citroen Saxo in 2018. This appears to have been her first season in the category, although it looks as if she did some folkerace events prior to her rallycross debut. She was eleventh in Group N in her first season, although she did not appear at all of the rounds.


Malin Gjerstad - began her career in Norwegian autocross in 2009, winning three of her events, plus the Ladies’ and Junior title. Driving a SAAB 900, she continued in 2010, venturing over the border into Sweden for their junior rallycross championship, in which she was fifteenth overall. She also continued with autocross, alongside her father Morten. After sitting out most of 2011 due to pregnancy, she returned in 2012, driving an Opel Corsa. Her one points finish in the Norwegian Class 1 championship was a fourth place, at Gardermoen Motorpark. She was twelfth in the 2013 championship, with one third place. She was driving the Corsa. She drove the same car in the 2014 Norwegian championship.

Ada Marie Hvaal - Norwegian driver who competes in both rallycross and stage rallying. She began in rallycross in 2012, when she was 14, finishing second in the JRX European Rallycross Series. Her car was a Citroen DS3. By the time she was 16, she was racing in the Norwegian WRX rounds in a Renault Clio, before moving up to the Super 1600 class in 2014 in a Peugeot 207. She has also competed in the Nordic series in a VW Beetle and a Citroen C2 in the European Rallycross Championship. On the rallying side, she began entering Norwegian rallies in a Ford Fiesta in 2018. Her best result has been 39th in the 2019 Rally Hadeland, driving a Renault Twingo.  


Mathilde Lindrup - Danish driver who races a Honda Civic in her home country. She won the Danish Group N rallycross championship in 2018, with two final wins at Lovel and Ornedalen in the early part of the season. She was fifth in the same class in 2017. Mathilde began racing at fourteen in Folkrace events, using a Peugeot 306. She won the Danish championship for under-16s in 2016. She is from a rallycross family and competes alongside her brother Frederik.


Majbritt Linnemann - Danish rallycross driver who drives a Peugeot 208 or 106 in the Danish Super 1600 championship. She was third in the category in 2018, with a best finish of second at Korskro. During the year, the 106 had to be almost completely rebuilt after an accident, but she was able to resume racing. She started in this car in 2017 with a part-season in the same class, although she raced a 206 for a couple of years previously. Majbritt is from a motorsport family and often competes against her brother Ulrik.


Lise Marie Sandmo - Norwegian driver who won the Norwegian Junior rallycross title in 2012, driving a Honda Civic, at the age of 18. She was the first female driver to do so. She was also fourth in the senior Northern European Zone 1600 rallycross championship, with a best finish of fifth. Her driving career began in 2010, in rallycross, and she was second in her first race. In 2011, she was fifth in the junior series, as well as competing in autocross at Junior level. 2013 saw her win a second Norwegian junior championship, as will as finishing seventh in the Northern Europe Super 1600 championship. Her car was the Civic. In 2014, she entered two rounds of the European Rallycross Championship, driving a VW Polo in the Super 1600 class. She scored one point. She drove the Polo in some rounds of the European S1600 championship again in 2015, but her season was marred by a pitlane accident involving her father. She did at least some NEZ championship races in 2016, but the results are proving elusive.


Fanny Thrygg - Swedish driver who has been driving in rallycross across Europe since at least 2005. 2005 was her first season in the European Championship, and she was 33rd in Division 2, driving a Peugeot 306. She was 32nd the following year, after finishing ninth in France. She did not do as well in 2007 and was only 35th. A string of final finishes pushed her up to 19th in 2008, still in the ageing 306. She was thirteenth in 2009, after three points finishes. As well as the European championship, Fanny also races in Sweden and makes appearances in other European events, although she does not seem to have competed since 2009.


Camilla Traerup - rallycross driver from Denmark. She has been active in the Danish championship since at least 2011 and has been racing for longer, having started in folkerace events in an Opel Astra in 2007. For most of her rallycross career, she has driven a Group N Honda Civic, in which she was second in class in 2017. Her car in 2018 was a Mitsubishi Colt.


(Image copyright Magda Andersson)

Friday, 7 December 2018

Katarina Kyvalova


Katarina Kyvalova is a German-based Slovakian driver most famous for her exploits in historic racing, at the Goodwood Revival and as part of the Bentley Belles team. She took her first steps in modern motorsport in 2018, in the GT4 European Series.

Katarina has been active in historic motorsport since 2000, starting off in rallies in Germany before switching her focus to circuit racing. She still drives in classic navigational rallies on occasion, usually in a Jaguar E-Type.

On track, her first car was an Austin-Healey 3000 which she raced in the UK and Europe. She has competed at Goodwood, the Silverstone Classic and several VSCC meetings.  

In 2015, she raced the Healey in the Le Mans Legend, and was 37th out of 43 finishers.

She is also part of the “Bentley Belles”, a quartet of female historic racers who drive Bentleys. They teamed up for the first time at the 2014 Benjafields 24 Hour race in Portugal, having only met each other in person the day before. The quartet were twelfth overall, in a Bentley 4 ½, having run as high as fifth. The team is involved in various Bentley-related rallies and races, and were third overall in the 2015 Spa 6 Hours historic race. In their individual cars, they raced in the VSCC Pomeroy Trophy in 2015.

Driving with Nigel Batchelor and others, she entered the 2016 Le Mans Classic in two different cars, the Bentley and a Jaguar XK120. She doubled up in these two cars again in the 2018 Classic, driving solo this time.

In 2017, she raced a Jaguar E-Type, and a Cooper T43 in the Freddie March Memorial Trophy at Goodwood. Goodwood has been one of her happiest hunting grounds; she was ninth in the Freddie March Memorial Trophy at the 2018 Revival in the Cooper. Earlier in the year, she raced this car in the Monaco Historic Grand Prix and was 14th from 26 finishers.

Her modern racing debut was at the wheel of a Mercedes AMG GT4. She raced in the GT4 European Series at Spa with Egidio Perfetti and secured a class third in her first event.

(Image copyright Katarina Kyvalova)

Friday, 30 November 2018

Paige Bellerby


Paige Bellerby is a racewinning rallycross driver in the UK at both junior and senior level.

She began racing in the BTRDA Junior Rallycross Championship in the winter of 2009, when she was fourteen. This was not even her first motorsport experience; she had been racing a Junior Special in autograss for two years. She learned to drive at the age of seven in a Nissan Micra.

The 2009 winter season was just practice before tackling the full championship in 2010. She scored one win at Blyton, and four second places. At the end of the season, she won the title, due to her consistent presence in finals.

In 2011, she moved up to the Swift Sport junior rallycross series, and was third overall, with a best finish of third, achieved twice at Mondello Park and Knockhill.

She moved on to senior competition in 2012, in the form of the Swift Sport Cup, which uses a similar Suzuki Swift to the junior class. Her best finish was fourth, at Pembrey, and she was eighth overall.

Her second season in the Swift series ended up being very much a part-season. She only managed to compete in the last round, at Croft, her home circuit, finishing eighth.

After sitting out much of 2014 as well, Paige returned to action at Pembrey, driving a Lotus Exige in the SuperNational class of the British championship. Her best finish in the new car was fifth, in her last race of the season.

In 2015, she raced in the British Supernational championship, in a Lotus Exige. At Croft, the final round, she became the first female driver to win an "A" Final in the class. Her final championship position was third.

The Exige became her regular car and her “A” Final win was far from being a one-off.

In 2016, she won two "A" Finals, at Croft and Mondello Park, on her way to another Supernational third.

She improved this to second in 2017, winning three rounds outright including two at her favoured circuit of Croft, at the beginning and end of the season. The Round One victory was against Ash Simpson, who has won the Supernational title twice.

Her opposition upped their game in 2018 and she did not manage a win that year, but she was still fourth in the championship with three second places, at Lydden and Croft.

Paige is the daughter of multiple rallycross champion Dave Bellerby. Her sister Drew also races in rallycross, as does her cousin Matilda Procter.


(Image copyright Paige Bellerby)

Sunday, 25 November 2018

Dorothy Champney


Dorothy (left) with Kay Petre at Le Mans

Dorothy Champney is most famous for racing at Le Mans in 1934. She and Kay Petre were thirteenth, in a Riley Ulster Imp.

A bout of diphtheria meant that Dorothy missed the 1935 race, but her car was driven by Elsie Wisdom and Kay instead. This seems to mark the end of her short motorsport career.

Dorothy Conyers Nelson Champney was born in Scarborough in 1909. Her first appearance in newspaper coverage of motorsport came in 1932, when she and co-driver Miss GJ Derby crashed their car into a telegraph pole between Honiton and Exeter during the RAC 1000 Miles Rally. Neither the drivers or their un-named female passenger were seriously injured. The car was a Riley, the marque to which she was loyal throughout her career.

Her Le Mans achievements are her most documented, but she was more of a rally driver and actually rarely ventured onto the circuits.

Despite an inauspicious start, she became a fine rally driver. In 1933 she entered the Brooklands, Scottish, Ulster and RAC Rallies in her Riley, coming sixth in Class 3 in the latter. 1933 was a “hat trick” year for her, as she secured Ladies’ Prizes in the RAC, Scottish and Ulster Rallies. Her Scottish win helped Riley to a clean sweep in the Small Car class. Dorothy’s own car then won her a class second in the coachwork competition.

She also won the Coupe des Dames in that year's Alpine Rally, co-driven by a Miss L Hobbs. Using the same car, she competed in a Shelsley Walsh hillclimb, and in the Women's Automobile and Sports Association's Cotswold Trial.

In January 1934 she tackled her second international rally, the Monte Carlo. She made the finish in 58th place, having started at snowy Umea in Sweden. A second run in the Alpine Rally followed in summer, after Le Mans, after her third RAC Rally.

She married Victor Riley, of the Riley car company, in 1934. They had two children, a son and a daughter. Dorothy died a widow in 1968, at the age of 58.

Tuesday, 20 November 2018

Martina Danhelova


Martina (right) with co-driver Karolina Jugasova in 2015)

Martina Daňhelová (also known as Martina Jerhotová-Daňhelová since 2015) is from the Czech Republic and is one of the leading female drivers in Eastern Europe.

She has been rallying since at least 2008. Her first car was a VW Polo, which she used for her first two seasons. She entered two rounds of the 2008 Czech Sprintrally Championship in the Polo and finished both times, then did six more rallysprints in 2009.

In 2010, she started to participate in some longer stage rallies, including the Rallye Český Krumlov. Her first big Czech rally ended in an accident on the eighth stage but she managed to finish four rallysprints.

However, reliability was an issue that year. Engine trouble put her out of her second Czech championship round, the Herkul Rally Pribram. Her next event, the Rally Jeseníky, was done in a Honda Civic, and she was 51st.

The Polo returned to service for much of the 2011 season, in which Martina did her first European Rally Cup event (the Rallye Český Krumlov), and her first rally outside the Czech Republic (the Thüringen Rally, in Germany). She was 38th in both, her best-ever overall finish. Her other events, a mix of rallysprints and Czech championship outings, gave her a few decent class positions.

For the last two Czech Sprintrally events of the season, she switched to Renault Clio, and continued her good class finishes.

The Clio proved the more reliable of her two cars in 2012; the Polo’s gearbox gave way twice and then had another mechanical failure on the Hustopece Rally. Her best finish was 35th, third in class, in the Rally Agropa, in the Clio.

Her biggest rally was the Barum Czech Rally Zlín, part of the IRC. She drove the Civic and was 63rd overall, sixth in class. At the end of the season, she also drove an Alfa Romeo 147 at the Rallyshow Uherský Brod, although the event was cancelled after first stage following a serious accident.

Her cars for 2013 were the Clio, and the 147, which she drove for two different teams. The 147, run by the Rada Martin team, was mainly used for the Sprintrally championship. Her best rallysprint result was 29th with a class win, at the Rally Agropa.

In January she made another foray into the rest of Europe:  the International Jänner Rallye in Austria, driving the Clio. She was 48th overall, third in class. This was one of four European Cup rallies she contested that year, three of which she finished.

Her best result also came from driving the Clio: she was 24th in the Rally Bohemia and won her class. A second attempt at the Barum Czech Rally Zlín gave her 36th, and third in class. She won her class in the Rally Bohemia, driving the Clio for CK Motorsport.

In 2014 she stuck with one car and team, rallying the Clio in the Czech Republic. Her programme included one European outing, the Jänner Rallye, in which she was 40th. She entered two European Trophy rallies in the Czech Republic: a rear axle broke on the Barum event, and she was 21st in the Hustopeče Rally. Her best results came from rallysprints; she won her class in the Czech Sprintrally Championship.

Her car for 2015 was a Clio, and she was second in the ERC Ladies' Cup after a class win and 42nd place in the Jänner Rally in Austria. This class victory her first points finish in the Ladies’ Cup. The rest of the year was spent in the Czech Republic, taking in one further ERC round, the Rallye Český Krumlov in which she was 34th, third in class.

2016 featured a reduced programme for Martina, who drove a Clio in the Krumlov Rally in May, finishing 46th. She became a mother to a daughter that year and took a step back from motorsport. She still retains an interest in rallying as her family compete - her father Vlastimil Daňhel has co-driven for her on occasion - but she is now involved in breeding horses.

(Image from www.fiaerc.com)

Thursday, 8 November 2018

Miki Koyama


Mihime “Miki“ Koyama races in Formula 4 in Japan. She was also the 2017 champion in the women-only Kyojo Cup.


Miki was 18 when she first started racing cars, although she raced karts both at home in Japan and abroad from the age of five, between 2003 and 2013. 2015 was her debut season in Formula 4, following a driver training programme. She entered the last four races of the year. Her best finishes were at Motegi, but were only two 26th places.


In 2016, she was set to race full-time in Formula 4, driving for the miNami aoYama Project, but this did not happen, and she only made five appearances from 14 rounds. Her best result was an eleventh place, at Okayama. One of her team-mates was Ayaka Imahashi, another young female driver.


She did a full season of Formula 4 in 2017 but struggled. Her best finish was 18th, at Autopolis. She was unplaced in the championship. Mid-season, she contested the two rounds of the inaugural Kyojo Cup at Fuji, driving a VITA-01 sports prototype. She won both races and was crowned the champion when the third round was abandoned due to a typhoon.


This was not her first experience of sportscar racing; she took part in some rounds of the 2016 Interproto Series, earning one third place. This is a one-make sportscar series like the Kyojo Cup that uses the “Kuruma”, a spec car.


In 2017, she did more one-make racing in the Honda N-One Owners Cup, which uses the N-One supercompact. Miki participated in five races and won two. Staying with Honda, she made a guest appearance in the FIT Challenge Cup, another one-make series.


For Miki, 2018 was split again between Formula 4, the Kyojo Cup and guest spots in Japanese sportscar series. This year, she did her first 24-hour race in June. She was third in the Super Taikyu 24 Hours at Fuji, as part of a six-driver team in a Toyota GT86.


In Formula 4, she drove for the Field Motorsports team and was 15th overall. It was her best season to date and included three top-ten finishes: a seventh and two ninths at Fuji. The series had big entries of more than 20 cars per race.


She won three rounds of the Kyojo Cup and retained her title in 2018, despite having a disaster in the last round and only finishing eighth.


(Image from https://ameblo.jp/mk-gold1/entry-12312181855.html)

Thursday, 1 November 2018

Margie Smith-Haas


Margie (Mary Margaret) Smith-Haas is an American sportscar driver who raced at Le Mans in 1984 and 1985. She usually drove Porsches.

In 1984, she drove a Porsche 930 run by Charles Ivey Racing, sharing with Paul Smith and David Ovey. The car made it to just under half-distance before an oil leak triggered its retirement. The following year, she drove a J. Winther Denmark URD C83 prototype, which also did not finish. Its BMW engine expired after 141 laps, despite the best efforts of Margie, Jens Winther and David Mercer.

Le Mans was only a small part of Margie’s career. She was active in motorsport between 1978 1995, beginning when she was 28 years old and recently married to Paul Haas. The couple met competing in a time trial.

Her first major race was the Road Atlanta 500 Miles in 1979. She drove a Porsche 914 run by Personalized Porsche with Paul Haas and Wayne Baker. They were 27th overall and eleventh in class.

The Personalized Porsche car came out again for a second IMSA race, the Riverside 5 Hours in 1980. Margie was 26th, as part of a three-driver team with Paul and Jeff Scott.

A break from racing followed, but when Margie returned to competition in 1983 she was no less ambitious. She raced in Europe for the first time, beginning with the Monza 1000km in April. This was the first of four European Endurance Championship races she entered. Her car was a Group C Porsche CK5, shared with Tony Dron and team owner Richard Cleare. They retired early on with an oil leak.

She was scheduled to contest the Silverstone 1000km for Edgar Dören’s team but did not make the start, despite qualifying in 28th place. Her next event was the Brands Hatch 1000km, the first of two in a Charles Ivey Racing Porsche 930. Margie, Paul Smith and David Ovey took the Group B car to 15th place against the Group C leviathans, and then finished thirteenth at Mugello.

Having shared a track with motorsport royalty like Jacky Ickx and Bob Wollek for much of the season, Margie found herself among Hollywood royalty in April when she partnered actor Gene Hackman for the Riverside 6 Hours. She was driving a Toyota Celica run by Dan Gurney’s All-American Racers team. The event, which was overshadowed by the death of Rolf Stommelen, led to a 16th place for Margie.

She did some more European Endurance rounds in 1984, again in the Charles Ivey 930, but could not finish any of them, including Le Mans as mentioned above. Le Mans was not the only 24-hour she entered, however: she was part of a three-driver team for the Daytona 24 Hours, driving a Porsche 911 RSR for Team Dallas with Paul Gilgan and John Zouzelka. They were 27th, sixth in class.  

Later in the year she did her first race in the southern hemisphere. She was invited by Gebhardt Motorsport to drive its BMW-engined prototype at the Sandown 1000km in Australia, as part of an all-female team. Margie, Cathy Muller and Australian Sue Ransom managed 95 laps, somewhat under half-distance, before the car’s suspension gave way.

Margie’s 1985 Le Mans outing became her only big race of the year. She attempted to qualify for the Daytona 24 Hours in a Porsche 924 run by El Salvador Racing, but did not even make the official qualifying sessions. Her career was now in one of its leaner periods. In 1986, she tried to enter the Trans Am series in a Porsche 924, but the car was unreliable and never made the start of either race for which she officially registered.

She and Paul managed to get the 924 to two IMSA races in 1987, at Portland and Del Mar. They did enter more, but did not start. Margie was 27th in the Portland 300km and twelfth in the 45-minute Del Mar race, driving solo this time.

In 1988, she joined the American City Racing League, representing San Diego. This was the first year that the championship ran. Margie ran the three-car San Diego team that raced against similar teams from Hollywood, Sacramento and other US cities. Her own racing season was shortened as she spent the first part of it recovering from neck surgery after a road traffic accident.

She competed in the Sports 2000 class using a 2000cc one-make Sports 2000 car.. After a couple of seasons she became one of its leading drivers, finishing third in 1991 and winning the title in 1994 after leading for most of the season. This was the first win in a pro racing series for a female driver, in the USA at least.

Her last major sportscar race was the 1995 Daytona 24 Hours. Margie was back in a Group C car, driving a Spice SE90 for Screaming Eagles Racing. Her co-drivers included another Hollywood actor, Craig T Nelson. They did not finish following an accident.

Her last professional race looks to have been one of the ACRL rounds in 1996. She did four races in the series that year and was eleventh in the final standings.

She did return to the tracks briefly in 2002 for some races in the ACRL and was thirteenth overall.

After her retirement, she was a member of the all-female PPG Pace Car team attached to CART. At present, she runs a small company producing car-themed gifts, chiefly novelty cushions in the shape of famous racing cars.

(Image from bilmagasinet.dk)

Saturday, 27 October 2018

Fabienne Wohlwend


Fabienne Wohlwend is from Liechtenstein and races in the Ferrari Challenge in Europe.


2016 was her first season of senior motorsport, after eight years of karting. She won two junior karting titles at home in Liechtenstein and also ran well in the Swiss championships.


She raced in Italian Formula 4 in 2016, as Liechtenstein has very few motorsport facilities of its own and no major championships. Switzerland hosts no petrol-powered motorsport at all. She did almost a complete season for Aragon Racing, as a single-car team. Her best finishes were two seventeenth places, at Adria and Vallelunga, and she was unplaced in the championship. At the end of the year, she chalked it all up as experience, describing Formula 4 as a “racing school”.


In 2017, she moved focus from single-seaters to tin-tops and sportscars. One reason for this was that she wished to continue her banking apprenticeship as well as her racing, and single-seaters required more intensive commitment. She was eleventh in the final season of the Audi Sport TT Cup, with four top-ten finishes. The best of these was an eighth place at Hockenheim. This was impressive considering that she had no budget to test the car, relying on track tests in a TCR-spec car and simulator work.


On the sportscar side, she raced in the Ferrari Challenge Europe in a 488, and won a race at Imola. Despite only doing six rounds of the fourteen-round championship, she was sixth overall, due to her four podium finishes. At the end of the year, she was third in the World Final, driving for the Octane 126 team.


Octane 126 retained her services for the 2018 season. She was racing their 488 in the Pirelli Trophy Amateur class of the Ferrari Challenge. The class was dominated by British driver Chris Froggatt, but Fabienne managed to win three times at Misano, from pole each time, and secure seven additional podiums. She was second in the class.  

At the end-of-season world finals, held at Monza, she won the Trofeo Pirelli for amateur drivers outright, leading comfortably from Martin Renaldi Hutasoit.


Fabienne still works part-time in banking to help fund her sporting activities.


(Image from motorsport.com)

Wednesday, 24 October 2018

Yvonne Simon

Yvonne and her co-driver Regine Gordine at the 1951 Monte

Yvonne Simon was a versatile French driver who showed skill in both sportscar racing and rallying in the 1950s.

She raced Ferraris at Le Mans twice, in 1950 and 1951. Her first attempt, partnering Michel Casse in Luigi Chinetti’s 166 MM Berlinetta, ended with an empty fuel tank on lap 25. However, a second run in the same car in 1951 gave her and Betty Haig a 15th place, third in class.

Her two Le Mans entries came in the later part of her career, which had begun in the 1930s. Among her earliest achievements was a second place in the 1937 Paris-St. Raphaël Rally driving a Hotchkiss Grand Sport. She was only 20 years old. Two years later in 1939, she won the all-female event outright, in the same car. A few months earlier, she had won her first Monte Carlo Rally Coupe des Dames, driving the Hotchkiss with Suzanne Largeot and starting from Athens. This was her third attempt at the Monte, after failing to finish the 1937 event in a Matford and co-driving Louise Lamberjack’s Hotchkiss to eleventh in 1938.

Among her other notable pre-war rally results was a seventh overall in the 1939 Criterium Paris-Nice, in the Hotchkiss.

She began circuit racing not long after her rally debut, in 1938. She and her rally team-mate Suzanne Largeot entered the Paris 12 Hours at Montlhéry, driving a Simca belonging to Yvonne. They were eighth overall, second in the 1100cc class.

Her earliest win was in a ladies-only race using Renault Juvaquatres. It was held at the Péronne circuit as part of that year’s Picardie Grand Prix. Yvonne defeated Hellé Nice to win. She entered one other women’s one-make race that year at Comminges, but the result is not known.

As soon as motorsport recommenced after the war, Yvonne was back in action. She shared a Delahaye with Germaine Rouault for the Spa 24 Hours in 1949 and was eleventh overall, first in the 4000cc class. The car was probably Germaine’s.

It seems to be about this time that Yvonne got to know Luigi Chinetti. She raced against him in that year’s Spa 24 Hours, which he won. In 1950, she started racing his Ferrari 166 MM. It is sometimes credited as Yvonne’s own car, but its chassis number, 0042M, remains the same.

Her first race in this car was the Circuito de Porto, in which she was fourth overall and won her class. She also competed in the Rouen and German Grands Prix, although the results are not forthcoming.

In the same car, she won a 3-litre race in Nice and finished the Mille Miglia, 90th and seventh in class with Alberico Cacciari. Later in the year, she was sixth in the Circuito di Senigallia.

She even drove the Ferrari in the Paris-St. Raphaël Rally and was second overall. Rallying was far from forgotten: she had already finished second in the women’s standings in the 1951 Monte Carlo Rally in a Simca. The Ferrari made another unlikely rally appearance in the Rallye du Maroc, held in the Atlas mountains. Yvonne and Alberico Cacciari were 19th.

Entering a different Ferrari herself, she had another go at the Senigallia race in 1952, but did not finish. She was also eighth in the 1952 Reims GP and thirteenth in the Bari GP. This car was another 166, but had a Zagato body. For the St. Raphaël Rally, she drove a Renault 1063 and posted the first of three consecutive wins.

The same car and driver combination won the 1953 Paris-St. Raphaël, ahead of class winner Paola della Chiesa’s Lancia Aurelia.

1953’s racing season was meant to start with the Mille Miglia, but the Fiat 1100 that Yvonne was scheduled to share with her St. Raphaël rival Paola della Chiesa did not make the start. A couple of months later, a last outing in the Ferrari led to an eleventh place in the Monza Grand Prix. Most of Yvonne’s major races this year were in Italy; she raced another Ferrari in her only attempt at the Pescara 12 Hours in August, sharing with a driver called Giarelli.

Her biggest home race of the year was also the major debut of her new car, a 745cc Panhard Monopole. She was fourteenth in the Reims 12 Hours with Jean Hémard in this car. Early in the season, it had proved itself a decent rally car with the first of two St. Raphaël wins.

In 1954, driving the Monopole, she was fourth in the Nimes GP, just behind Elie Bayol. She entered the Reims 12 Hours again with Jean de Montrémy in the same car, but they crashed out.

The same car and driver pairing attempted the Bol d’Or in 1955. The race was held at Montlhéry over 24 hours and they were tenth, second in the 750cc class.

This was Yvonne’s last major circuit race. She continued in rallying for another couple of seasons and won her final St. Raphaël event in 1957, driving the Panhard.  

She died in 1992, at the age of 75.

(Image from http://www.kwa-kwa.pl)