Thursday, 3 May 2018

Female Drivers in Touring Cars: Canada

Stephanie Ruys de Perez

Female drivers have been a regular fixture in the Canadian Touring Car Championship during the past few years. Canada has produced a number of other women racers such as Monique Proulx, but it is the CTCC that seems to be their favoured destination at the moment.

Demi Chalkias - Canadian driver who competes in the Pirelli GT Sprint championship. She won the GT4 class of the series in 2018, driving a BMW E36. She has also competed in the Canadian Touring Car Championship in the same car, winning races at Mosport, Shannonville and Calabogie. She is from a motorsport background but did not initially try to race herself. She dropped out of a medical degree to work in the automotive world, having been a triathlete earlier in her career.

Crystel Charest - raced in the Canadian Touring Car Championship in 2016 and 2017. Her car was a Mini Cooper run by Octane Racing both times. Her best result came in 2016: a fourth place at Trois-Rivieres. Previously, and alongside her CTCC events, she raced the Mini in the Super Production Challenge in Canada. She was a career-best sixth in the 2017 championship, after an eleventh place in 2016 and twelfth in 2015. She only managed one appearance in the series in 2018, at Trois-Rivieres. She did not finish the first race and could not start the second. Crystel has been working as a dentist in Quebec since 1992.

Marie-France Gagné – raced in the Canadian Touring Car Championship in 2014. She drove a Mini Cooper in the Touring class. It was her first season in the series, and she acquitted herself well, with a best finish of sixth, and tenth in the 22-driver Touring class. She was competing with her husband, Éric Lacouture, as a team-mate. They are both dentists.

Nathalie Hénault – raced in the Canadian Touring Car Championship in 2014, after several years of regional and club competition. She was racing in the Super class, and her car was a Subaru WRX. Right from the first round, she was on the pace, finishing eighth. Her best finishes were a pair of third places, both at Calabogie. She was fifth in the championship, and probably would have been higher without a string of DNFs near the end of the season. A second season of the CTCC ended quite similarly in 2015; Nathalie was more consistent, and had a better finishing record, and was fifth again, with a best finish of fifth at Shannonville. Her car was the Impreza. She raced in the Subaru in at least some rounds of the GT Challenge in 2016. In 2017, she was third in the Super Touring class of the CTCC, driving the Impreza. She scored two seconds and two third places.

Lindsay Rice - raced in the CTCC in 2017. She scored two fifth places in the GT Sport class at Mosport, but the rest of her part-season was affected by a string of DNFs and a non-start. She had attempted to make her CTCC debut at Trois-Rivieres in 2016, but was unable to start. Her usual car is a Porsche 911, which she also used in club racing in 2016. She was more successful there. As well as racing the Porsche, she did some Nissan Micra Cup races in 2016, at Mosport. In 2018, she drove a different car, an Audi RS3 LMS, but only entered one race at Mosport, finishing sixth. Lindsay does not have a motorsport background and did not start competing until she was in her mid-twenties.

Stephanie Ruys de Perez – raced saloons in Canada in the 1960s and 1970s. In 1972, she was fourteenth in the Sanair Trans-Am race, in a Mini Cooper. She is best known for racing for the Comstock team, one of the first commercially sponsored racing teams. She also raced a Sunbeam Imp in 1966. Among her other cars was a Chevrolet Camaro. More detailed information about her career is not forthcoming, although she was quite famous at the time, appearing on TV adverts.

Ashley Sahakian - raced in the Canadian Touring Car Championship in 2017. This was her rookie year in the series. She drove a Ford Mustang and was fourth in the GT Sport class, two places below her team-mate and brother, Chris Sahakian. Ashley’s best finish was third, at Mirabel. She made some more appearances in the Mustang in 2018, earning a best finish of seventh at Mirabel. Prior to the CTCC, she did part-seasons in the Nissan Micra Cup in 2015 and 2016. She was not among the front-runners but did improve in her second year. As well as motor racing, she plays football and is a former model.

(Image copyright Getty Images)


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