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)

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