Friday, 30 March 2018

Samantha Tan


Samantha Tan (right) with her ST Racing team-mate, Aurora Straus

Samantha Tan is a Canadian driver who races in the Pirelli World Challenge in the USA. She has made her way through the Touring classes to the GTS class.


She raced in the Canadian Touring Car Championship in 2014. Her car was a Mini Cooper, and she was fifth in the Touring class, and ninth overall. Her best finish was fourth, at Mirabel, and she was usually in the top ten. This was quite remarkable, given that she was only 17 years old, and in her first full season of motorsport.


Previously, she had only done a little NASA stock car racing in 2014, with some success. She had been interested in cars from a very early age and was one of the youngest people ever to take part in the Ferrari Driving Experience at Mont Tremblant.


In 2015, she raced in the Pirelli World Challenge for the first time. She was driving a Kia Forte Koup run by Kinetic Motorsport. Despite a bumpy start at Circuit of the Americas, where she did not finish any of her three races, she had a decent season, with fourth spots at Mosport and Miller. She was sixth in the championship.


Mid-season, she also found time for some rounds of the CTCC, in a Mini, scoring one third place at Toronto from three starts.


Most of 2016 was spent in the Pirelli World Challenge, where she drove a Honda Civic in the TCA class. She was sixth in the class championship, with a best finish of sixth and a consistent finishing record. Her form was slightly better in the early part of the season.


Late in the season, she made two guest appearances in the CTCC, and was fifth and seventh at Bowmanville.


A third season in the World Challenge in 2017, driving a BMW, proved difficult. Her best finishes were two fourteenth places at Circuit of the Americas and she was 29th overall. This was her first year in the TC class and was a step-up in power. TCA is a lower horsepower, “limited preparation” class, while TC allows cars up to TCR spec to compete.


In 2018, she decided to remain with ST Racing, her team from 2017. She drove a BMW M4 in the GTS class of the World Challenge with Nick Wittmer. They were fifth and third in the first two races at Circuit of the Americas, their best results of the year. Samantha was 16th in the championship.


(Image copyright Sean Krinik)

Tuesday, 27 March 2018

Alexandra Mohnhaupt


Alexandra Mohnhaupt is a Mexican driver racing in Formula 4 and Formula 3. In 2018, she became the first female driver to win a Formula 4 race.

She counts her home town as Puebla in Mexico, but she has both German and Mexican family. She races under a Mexican license and her career began there, in karting.

2015 was her debut season in senior racing, although she was only sixteen years old. She started in the NACAM F4 championship in Mexico. Out of thirteen races, she scored eight top-tens, the best of these being two sixth places, at Pegaso. One of these was from pole position. She was fourteenth in the championship.

The NACAM championship runs over the winter period. After the Mexican season finished in June 2016, she travelled to the UK to compete in the British F4 series. This proved a challenge for her, although by the end of her season, she was edging towards top-ten finishes, such as her eleventh place at Knockhill. She did six races, competing at Knockhill and Snetterton.

She raced in the NACAM series again from 2017 and was seventh overall, coming close to a podium finish at Toluca. This was one of five top-five finishes she earned that season. She was the leading driver for her team, MomoF4.

Her three British F4 guest spots were less successful. She entered the Snetterton round again and was fifteenth in all three races.

Another winter season in the NACAM series followed. She was immediately on the pace, with a third and two seconds in her first races at Mexico City. At her home track of Puebla, she won two of her three races, the first woman to win a Formula 4 race anywhere. This took her to second in the championship. She held second after a third, fourth and fifth at Aguascalientes.

Shortly after her Puebla wins, it was announced that she would be racing in the UK again, this time in the BRDC Formula 3 championship. She was due to be driving for Douglas Motorsport alongside Jamie Chadwick.

Alexandra never actually raced in F3 in the UK. She did take part in an official series test at Spa, but crashed. Her injuries were initially reported as being "mild concussion and bruising."

The day before the Yucatan rounds of NACAM F4, she pulled out of that championship, citing two causes. The first of these was neck injuries received in her Spa crash. The second revolved around the series' acceptance of another driver who had allegedly received a year-long drugs ban from IndyCar-sanctioned series. Her team, MomoF4, pulled out of the championship after the meeting.

Alexandra said in the press conference held to announce her retirement that she had not ruled out a return in future, but she is now concentrating on finishing her education.

(Image copyright Liliana Velazquez Leon/Sintesis)

Saturday, 24 March 2018

Flick Haigh


Flick in 2016

Flick Haigh races GT cars in endurance events, in the UK and abroad.

She got into motorsport through a track day in 2005, when she was 21, and through her father’s historic rallying. For a long time at the beginning of her career, she was a Caterham racer. She started in the Caterham Classic Graduates series in 2007, and was seventh in her first year. In her second, she was fifth, and she won the series in 2009.

Between 2010 and 2013, she raced in the Caterham R300 Superlight Championship, finishing seventh overall in 2010 and 2012.

During this time, she also raced a Ginetta in some Britcar endurance races, as well as in the Dubai 24 Hours in 2013. She was 27th in a Ginetta G50, run by Optimum Motorsport and shared with Lee Mowle, Joe Osborne and Ryan Ratcliffe. Ratcliffe was her partner for Britcar; they won their class in a night race at Donington in 2012, despite Flick never having raced in the dark before, and almost running out of fuel at the end.

In 2014, she partnered Sarah Reader in the VdeV Endurance Challenge in France. The car was a Juno prototype. Their best overall result was ninth, at Paul Ricard, although they scored well in class. They were 39th overall, as their other results were not as good as their Paul Ricard efforts.

In 2015, Flick took part in her second Dubai 24 Hours, driving an Aston Martin Vantage for Speedworks Motorsport. She was third in the SP3 class, 29th overall, driving with Paul O’Neill, Devon Modell and Paul Gilbert. Driving a Ginetta G55 for Optimum Motorsport, she won her class in the Mugello 12 Hours, and was 16th overall, as part of a three-driver team. A similar team was 34th in the Barcelona 24 Hours.

Back at home, she made guest appearances in the GTA Cup and the Ginetta GT4 Supercup, driving the G55. In April, she entered the Donington rounds of the GTA Cup, and won the GTA class in her first race. She started the second from pole, but was seventh overall, and then did not finish. Later, in August, she tackled the Snetterton Ginetta Supercup meeting, and left with a tenth and two sixth places.

She did several international endurance races in 2016, starting with the Dubai 24 Hours, driving an Audi R8 LMS for Optimum Motorsport. She and her four team-mates were fourth overall. They were tenth in the Mugello round of the 24-Hour Series, but did not finish at Paul Ricard. A return to the track for the Michelin GT3 Le Mans Cup in August gave them a fourth place. In December, they were an impressive second in the Gulf 12 Hours, held at Yas Marina. This was a positive end to a strong year.

She stuck with the same car and team for 2017. Her first race was the Dubai 24 Hours, in which she was fourth in class. The other drivers were her regular team-mates Joe Osborne and Ryan Ratcliffe, plus Christopher Haase of Germany.
She was also fifth in the GT3 class of the Michelin Le Mans Cup, with three podium finishes from five races. She and Joe Osborne were third at Paul Ricard and the Red Bull Ring, and second in the season opener at Monza. They also entered the the two Le Mans races, and were ninth and fourteenth.

Her plans are more home-based in 2018. She is contesting the British GT Championship in an Aston Martin Vantage. The seat is a continuation of her long-running association with Optimum Motorsport and her team-mate is Jonny Adam.

Her first race in British GTs made history: at Oulton Park, Flick became the first female driver to win a British GT race, having started from pole. This was not only a first for a woman, but a first win for Flick the first time out in the car. She and Jonny Adam won again at Donington at the end of the year and were crowned British GT3 champions. This was the first time a female driver had won the top-level GT3 class and a remarkable achievement for a series debutant.

(Image copyright AdrenalMedia.com)

Sunday, 11 March 2018

Gisela Ponce



Gisela Ponce is a Mexican driver who has raced in both NASCAR and touring cars, and now competes in truck racing.


She is from a racing family: her brother Javier is a racing driver, her father (also Javier) raced for many years, and her grandfather was the president of his regional motorsport association.


After several seasons of karting, she took her first steps in senior motorsport in 2009, when she was nineteen. Her first racing season was in the VW Stock 1600 championship, driving an original Beetle. Her first outing ended with a third place at her local track, Aguascalientes. She was fourth overall, and second in the rookie standings.


In 2010, she worked with the Volkswagen team and undertook training with them, then competed in a VW Golf in the regional Aguascalientes Copa RC Racing series. She finished second after a very strong season, and won at least one race.


In 2011, she formed her own family team, and contested the 1600cc Mexican Touring Car Championship. She was third in the final standings, having led for part of the season. This run in a national series was accompanied by more races in the Central Mexican touring car series. She was the champion in the VW Sedan class, and second in the Chevy 1600 class.


Her NASCAR adventures began in 2012, when she entered the Mexican Stock V6 NASCAR series for the first time, driving a Chevrolet for the OAM Ramirez team. Her best finish was fifth, at Mexico City, and she was in the top ten for nine of the twelve races. Her finishes gradually improved over the season; her best result was in the last round. She was seventh overall.


As well as NASCAR, she found time for some Mexican touring car races, in another Chevrolet. She scored one podium in the 1800cc Mexican Touring Car Championship, and was seventh overall.  


For 2013, she had a lighter schedule, with only a couple of guest slots in NASCAR. This would become a pattern in her career: a strong year followed by one where she was less active, due to a lack of sponsorship. She only got to her local Aguascalientes rounds, but earned a pair of fourth places.


It was back to business in 2014, with a few races in NASCAR, yielding a fifth and eighth place, at Aguascalientes again. She raced for her family team in the Super Touring 1 Light series, in which she was back on form, finishing fourth.


In 2015, she made a move into truck racing, in the Campeonato Tractocamiones Freightliner. She was fifth overall, having been in contention for a championship win until quite late in the year. This was in addition to a season in the Mexican Super Touring 3 series, where she was sixth, with one podium place. Her car may have been a Chevrolet.


Most of 2016 was spent truck racing, in a Freightliner. She did not do quite as well as in 2015, despite running a full season, but was still ninth overall. Late in the year, she made a guest appearance in the Mexican V6 Series, and was eighth at Mexico City.


A limited season in Trucks followed in 2017. She made guest appearances in the Mikels Trucks and Freightliner one-make series, scoring one seventh place in the latter. She did not finish her Mikels Trucks race at Monterrey.


She also participated in the 24 Hours of Mexico, an endurance race for saloon cars held at Amozoc Puebla. This was her second attempt at the race.


Gisela also competes in triathlon.


(Image from eaglentsracing.com)

Tuesday, 6 March 2018

Melinda Price


Melinda in 2017

Melinda Price is an Australian saloon car racer. She has completed five Bathurst 24 Hour races and jointly holds the record for the highest all-female team finish.

She was 12th in the 1997 event, driving a “Castrol Cougar” Holden Commodore with Kerryn Brewer. During the 1997 and 1998 seasons, the pair competed together on and off.

She has raced in a number of saloon championships in the 1990s, beginning in 1992. Her first major race was the 1992 Bathurst 12 Hours, the second running of the race. She had her first experience of an all-female team, driving a Nissan Pulsar run by Garry Rogers Motorsport with Michelle Callaghan and Tracey Taylor. They were fifth in Class B.

That year, she also contested the Sandown 500 with Steven Richards. They were driving a Garry Rogers Pulsar.  

Melinda was part of the Garry Rogers setup for another season, and drove the team’s Pulsar in the 1993 Sandown 6 Hour race. She was was 17th, sharing the car with Paul Fordham and Steven Richards.

She moved teams to Inspired Racing for 1994, driving their Toyota Corolla. The team entered her into that year’s Bathurst 1000, with Garry Jones and Andrew Reid. They did not finish.

Driving solo in 1995, she tackled the first rounds of the Australian Super Touring Championship in the Corolla, although she was unable to start one of her races. She was twelfth in one race at Calder Park. Earlier in the year, the team had run her in a couple of rounds of the Gold Coast Super Touring series. This yielded a thirteenth place and a DNF at Surfers’ Paradise.

In between top-line Australian Touring Car drives, Melinda took part in the Mazda 121 Challenge in 1996. This was a one-make series for female drivers. She was second in the championship, behind Tania Gulson. Her future team-mate Kerryn Brewer was one of her rivals.

The team that hosted the Castrol Cougars had been a feature of Australian racing for a few seasons before 1997, managed by Larry Perkins and usually running under the Perkins Engineering banner. The idea for an all-female team came from Castrol’s marketing department and Perkins, who usually raced for the team himself, got on board.

The Cougars car was a third Perkins Engineering entry for the Australian Touring Car Championship. It had won the 1995 Bathurst 1000, driven by Perkins and Russell Ingall.  

The Cougars were originally a four-woman team consisting of Melinda and Kerryn, plus Michelle Fielke, an international netballer, and Kim Watkins, a TV presenter. Michelle was prevented from racing by her prior sporting commitments and Kim also dropped out. Melinda and Kerryn alternated driving duties.

Melinda did six of the ATCC races, competing at Wanneroo and Oran Park. The latter was the better circuit for her, and she earned her best finish there: a thirteenth place.

The two Cougars drove together for the big V8 Supercar races. They were a twelfth at Bathurst, just behind former F1 world champion Alan Jones in a Ford. The pair were also 17th in the Sandown 500.

Melinda took on nine rounds of the ATCC in 1998, with Kerryn taking a small step back and doing six. Her best result was 18th at Melbourne, and she was 41st in the championship.

Again, she did better in the longer endurance races, sharing the car with Kerryn. They were fourteenth in the Sandown 500, and a career-best eleventh in the Bathurst 1000.

In 1999, she drove in the Production category of V8 Supercars, using a K-Mart-sponsored Holden Vectra. The Castrol Cougars team had now been disbanded, having run as “Castrol Perkins Racing” in 1998. Driving solo, she was second in Class D.

She also had a couple of runs in the main V8 Supercar draw, now running as the Shell Championship. She drove a Holden Commodore for Clive Wiseman Racing and partnered Dean Lindstrom for the two races, the Queensland 500 and the Bathurst 1000. They were 20th and 17th respectively.

Clive Wiseman’s team gave her another drive for the Bathurst 1000 in 2000. Her car was a Holden Commodore, shared with her 1999 team-mate, Dean Lindstrom. They were 20th overall.

Melinda also drove a Holden Vectra for Gibson Motorsport in the Production Car Championship. She was fourth in Class E. At one point, she shared Peter Boylan’s Honda Integra Type-R for the Supercheap Showroom Showdown 3 Hours. They were 32nd overall.

In 2002 and 2003, she entered the Bathurst 24 Hours, driving two different cars. She used a Honda S2000 in 2002, and was third in class, with Peter Hansen and Hermann Tilke. The Porsche 996 she drove in 2003, along with Tilke and Jonathan Rowland, did not get to the finish.

After 2003, she retired from the circuits for a long time. She became a mother in 2011 and was diagnosed with breast cancer during her pregnancy. This meant she had to prioritise her health and personal life for a long time.

In 2014, she made a comeback, after eleven years. She raced a classic Lotus 20/22 single-seater in the Phillip Island Classic series, finishing 21st in the championship.

She continued to race this car for a couple of seasons and was 21st in the 2016 Phillip Island Classic. The year before, she was thirteenth in the Australian Formula Junior championship.

Saloons were still on her agenda. At the 2016 Ken Leigh 4-Hour Classic Enduro, she joined Team Brock and raced a Holden HQ Kingswood, but did not finish.  

In 2017, she raced a Ford Falcon in the Touring Car Masters series and earned a third and fourth place. She picked up the same at Sandown in the GT Trophy Series, driving a Mazda 3 with Liam McLellan.

She took another year out in 2018 to complete a degree, but plans to return.

(Image copyright Dirk Klynsmith)

Friday, 2 March 2018

Tamara Molinaro



Tamara Molinaro won the 2017 European Ladies’ Rally Championship, driving an Opel Adam.


She was interested in rallying from a very early age, and apparently drove rally cars as early as 2008, when she was eleven years old. Her father, Giorgio, is involved in rallying.


At the start of her career, she was mainly known as a co-driver, sitting beside Luca Maspoli and former Mitsubishi works driver, Gigi Galli. She partnered Galli in a Ford Fiesta WRC and helped him to ninth at the 2014 Monza Rally Show. He had seen her driving on an ice circuit at Livigno before she was old enough to enter rallies and supported her during the first part of her career. She was quickly picked up by Red Bull as one of their sponsored athletes.


In 2013 and 2014, she did her own first rallies in her native Italy in a Citroen C2. The best of these for her was a 42nd place in the Misano World Circuit Rally Event. She concentrated on rally show-type events, both as a driver and co-driver.


In 2016, she drove an Opel Adam as the course car in the Schneebergland Rallye in Austria, with Ilka Minor as her co-driver. This drive was the first of three course-car outings in the Adam, the other two being Rallye Wartburg and Rallye Deutschland.


Her first competitive outing of the year was the Skoda Rallye Liezen in Austria. Tamara drove the Adam, and was thirteenth overall. She was third in the Austrian Junior standings. Later in the year, she did another Austrian rally, the Waldviertel International event. She was 30th, and seventh in both the Junior and RC4 classes. In between, she entered the ADAC 3-Stadte Rallye in Germany, finishing second in the RC4 class and 23rd overall.


Next, she was 22nd in the Mikulas Rally, in Hungary. She won her class. Her final event of the year was the Rallye Ronde Prealpi Rally Show in Italy. She retired on SS2.


She took a big step forward in her career in 2017, entering the ERC3 category of the European Rally Championship. Her car was an Opel Adam again, but this time run by the Opel Junior team. The Austrian Ursula Mayrhofer, who had sat beside her in Hungary last year, was her regular co-driver for the first part of the season. They did three ERC rounds together, the best of these probably being the Azores Rally, in which Tamara was 24th overall and first lady, as well as fourth in the ERC3 and Junior classes. Their last rally together was the Rzezsowski Rally. Although Tamara was only 42nd overall, she was seventh in both the ERC3 and Junior Under 27 classes.


She repeated her 24th place and seventh in ERC3 in the Roma Capitale Rally, driving with Giovanni Bernacchini this time. This was another of her Coupe des Dames wins, and she was the sixth Under 27 driver. She entered six ERC rounds - the Azores, the Canary Islands, Rzezsowski, Barum Czech Rally Zlin, Roma Capitale and Liepaja - and was the top female driver in four of them. Away from the ERC, she competed in Austria and Eastern Europe again, and was sixth in the Austrian Junior championship.


At the end of the season, she even found some time for more co-driving. She sat beside Citroen WRC driver Craig Breen in a Citroen DS3 WRC for the Monza Rallyshow. They did not finish. She was dating Breen at the time.
She ended the year as the ERC Ladies' champion, tenth in ERC3 and seventh in Under 27s. She is the second-youngest champion after Catie Munnings, who was born a month after Tamara, but won her title a year earlier.  


In 2018, she moved up again, to the World Championship. She rallied a Ford Fiesta R5 in the WRC2 class, but her season was sadly halted by a lack of sponsorship. She was 14th in the Azores Rally and then got to do her only WRC event of the year, Rally Sweden. She was 35th overall from 58 finishers.

In 2019, she is making another attempt on the WRC2 class, this time with a Citroen C3 R5.


(Image copyright Red Bull)