Wednesday, 27 June 2018

Chantal Kroll (Prinz)

Chantal Kroll is a Swiss driver who competes mainly in the Creventic 24H Series with her family team, currently known as Hofor Racing. She was one of the championship’s class driver champions in 2016 and 2017.

The Hofor team consists of Chantal, her father Michael and her uncle Martin Kroll, with various other guest drivers. Michael founded the team in 2004 and Chantal joined at the end of 2005, racing a Porsche 964.

In 2012, she drove in the 24-hour races in Dubai and at the Nürburgring, in a BMW M3 E46. She and her team-mates won their class at the Dubai race. The team consisted of the three Kroll drivers, Raffi Bader and team owner, Bernd Küpper. The car ran under the Hofor Racing banner for the Nürburgring race; the Krolls were joined by Roland Eggimann this time. Hofor fielded two cars. Chantal’s did not finish, failing in the last two hours.

In 2013, she was third in class in the Barcelona 24 Hours, in the BMW. The Hofor and Küpper teams joined forces, with Chantal and Martin making up the Kroll contingent. The other drivers were Bernd Küpper and Richard Feller. They were 20th overall. This followed a joint Hofor-Küpper run in the Dubai 24 Hours, which led to a class win and 35th place.

She also drove in the Nürburgring 24 Hours. There were two Hofor BMWs entered and she drove in both of them, finishing fourth and fifth in class SP6 and 80th and 87th overall.

In 2014, she entered the Zolder 24 Hours for the first time, and was third overall in a Porsche 997. This was her best-ever finish. The Porsche was run by Belgium Racing. Chantal and Michael joined three other Belgian drivers.

She also drove in the Nürburgring and Dubai races in BMWs. At the Nürburgring, she and her team drove in two separate cars again, finishing in both. Hofor Racing’s second car, a BMW CSL, was 50th, defeating Hofor 1, a GTR, which was 72nd. In Dubai in January, there was just one Hofor-Küpper car, featuring Chantal, which finished 54th.

In 2015, she was once more active in the 24-Hour Series, winning the Ladies' Cup comfortably. She also scored class wins in the Dubai, Mugello and Paul Ricard races, doubling up for Hofor-Küpper in the BMW and a Mercedes SLS AMG. Overall, the BMW was the more successful car, with the Paul Ricard class win and three second places at Zandvoort, Catalunya and Brno. The team was third overall in class A5.There was also a class win at Dubai, running in a different group. The Mercedes scored a class win at Mugello.

Despite only winning their class in one race in 2016, Chantal's team were the overall winners of the 24 Hour Series for class A6, after several podiums. This time it was the Mercedes that was the more competitive of the two Hofor cars. Chantal did not drive in the BMW that year.

Their class win came right at the start of the season, in Dubai. It was another personal best for Chantal: a fourth place. She was also second at Mugello and Brno, and third at Zandvoort and Paul Ricard.

A four-driver Hofor team, including Chantal, was second in class in the Nürburgring 24 Hours, driving a BMW M3 CSL. They were 51st overall.

The Hofor Mercedes team defended their title in 2017, despite only managing one class win again. Their best was a third overall at the Portimao circuit, where they won the A6-Am class and were third overall in A6. The team was seventh in Dubai, fifth at Mugello and fourth at the Red Bull Ring. Chantal was once more the ladies’ champion

Chantal’s 2018 season started disappointingly, with a retirement for the Mercedes in the Dubai 24 Hours. The car was taken out by another Mercedes and badly damaged. Later, she and her team-mates were seventh at Navarra, then third in class at the Nürburgring 24 Hours, this time driving a BMW M3.

The Hofor Mercedes was back in action at the Dubai 24 Hours in 2019, but the team had to retire due to accident damage. Chantal acted as team manager for the rest of the year as she was pregnant.

(Image copyright Chantal Kroll/Hofor Racing)

Monday, 18 June 2018

Women in Indy Lights

Sarah McCune in 2004, during a test for Kathryn Nunn Racing

Indy Lights is the second-tier racing series of the Indycar ladder. Over the years, it has had several changes of name and been run by CART, Indycar and the IRL. The basic formula of a one-model junior championship has remained roughly the same, however.

Until recently, Indycar was not a particularly welcoming place for female drivers. Indy Lights has had correspondingly few women entrants. A higher number were involved with the Toyota Atlantic series, a similar championship in the USA.

1986 (CART American Racing Series)
Desire Wilson (driver) - 24th

No female entrants

Cathy Muller (McNeill Motorsports) - 26th

Cathy Muller (McNeill Motorsports/Stuart Moore Racing) - 16th
Cheryl Glass (Glass Racing) -22nd

1991 (CART Firestone/PPG/Dayton Indy Lights Series)
Desire Wilson (Leading Edge Motorsport) - 24th
Cheryl Glass (Glass Racing) - unplaced

Kat Teasdale (Leading Edge Motorsport) - unplaced

No female entrants

2005 (IRL Infiniti Pro Series)
Mishael Abbott (Hemelgarn) - 13th
Sarah McCune (Sam Schmidt Motorsports) - 23rd

2006 (IRL Indy Pro Series)
Mishael Abbott (Michael Crawford Motorsports) - 26th
Veronica McCann (United & Classic Trailers) - 37th

Leilani Munter (Sam Schmidt Motorsports) - 33rd

2008 (Indycar Indy Lights)
Bia Figueiredo (Sam Schmidt Motorsports) - 3rd
Cyndie Allemann (American Spirit Racing) - 14th
Christina Orr-West (Alliance Motorsports) - 30th

Bia Figueiredo (Sam Schmidt Motorsports) - 8th
Pippa Mann (Panther Racing) - 14th

Pippa Mann (Sam Schmidt Motorsports) - 5th
Carmen Jorda (Andersen Racing) - 16th

No female entrants

(Image copyright Gregg Ellmann/

Wednesday, 13 June 2018

Emma Kimilainen

Emma Kimilainen (Liuski) is single-seater and touring car driver from Finland.

The early part of her career was spent in single-seaters, after beginning karting at the age of three. She first raced cars in 2005, in Finnish Formula Ford, coming second overall and winning a string of rookie awards.

As well as the Finnish title, she was also fifth in the Northern Europe Formula Ford Championship, and did some races in the Swedish series.

She missed out on a Finnish Formula Ford title in 2006, finishing second again, and it was an even more close-fought thing in the NEZ series. Emma was tied for points with Sami Isohella of Finland at the end of the season, but he edged her out with five wins to her four.

In 2007, she switched to sportscars and was consistently in the top three in Swedish Formula Radical. Her three wins were enough to cement her third place in the championship, as well as a runner-up spot in the National class. She was supported by Swedish ex-Formula 1 driver Stefan Johansson.

She competed in German Formula ADAC in 2008, after undertaking a DTM test during the off-season for Audi. The German marque supported her in this after she was unable to get a DTM race seat.

Her overall result was tenth, with a single podium finish: a second place at Assen. Most of her finishes were in the top ten and she out-performed her Van Amersfoort Racing team-mate, Marcus Eriksson. Daniel Abt was another of her rivals.

In 2009, she travelled to the UK to race in Formula Palmer Audi, after a successful test. She was the series' fastest female driver, with two seconds and two thirds, and a fifth place overall. This came after a difficult start at Brands Hatch, the only time she finished out of the top ten. She was racing against Felix Rosenqvist, Josef Newgarden and Maria de Villota.   

She was set to return in 2010, but does not appear to have raced, although she did test for the Charouz AutoGP team.

She was not involved with motorsport for a long time after that. Partly this was due to the ever-present sponsorship problem, but she used her time away to finish her education, get married and become a mother. The result was a degree in chemistry and two daughters. She was also briefly involved in politics in Finland.

She came back to motorsport in 2014, driving a Saab 9-3 in the Scandinavian Touring Car Championship. She had an eventful season, crashing into Prince Carl Philip of Sweden in her first race, at Knutstorp, then crashing again, at Göteborg. One high point was a second place at Falkenberg, and she did manage some other top tens. She was eleventh overall, admitting herself that she was out of practice.

A second season in Scandinavian Touring Cars ran more smoothly, with a more consistent Emma finishing seventh overall. Her best finish was third, achieved at Mantorp Park and Anderstorp. She earned four more top-five positions and only had one DNF all season.

She raced a SEAT Leon in the 2016 STCC, but unreliability problems struck. Her best finish was a sixth place at Anderstorp. After the tenth race, she left the championship abruptly due to issues out of her control, leaving her in eleventh place. She had already missed another round earlier in the season.

For 2017, she announced that she would be taking part in a new electric racing initiative, Electric GT: this did not come together in time.

Instead, she drove a thirsty Ford Mustang in Thundercars, in Sweden and Finland. She won two of her six races in Finland, and finished the rest on the podium. She earned one podium in the Swedish series; a second at Ahvenisto.

Emma was set to race a Tesla P1000D in Electric GTs from late 2018, but it is unclear whether this happened. She did not race much at all that year.

In January 2019, she made the cut for the s female-only W Series, hoping to resurrect her single-seater career. Her season was one of contrasts; she was punted off by Megan Gilkes in the opening race and later had to sit out a round due to delayed concussion, but she got stronger as the season went on, winning at Assen and finishing second at Brands Hatch. She was fourth in the championship.

(Image copyright Yle/Mikael Oivo)

Friday, 8 June 2018

Anne Wong

Anne Wong is a Singaporean driver best known as the winner of the 1970 Macau Grand Prix race, in a Mini.

Born in 1949, she was quite well-travelled as a teenager, moving between Singapore and Malaysia. Both her father and uncle were involved in the local motorsport scene and Anne picked up an enthusiasm for cars. She had learned to drive at the age of twelve and passed her test at sixteen.

In the late 1960s she was living in the UK and attending college. She enrolled in the Motor Racing Stables driving school at Brands Hatch, but did not finish the course. It was only when she returned to Singapore and watched a friend racing a car that her father had prepared that she made her real start in motorsport. The car was a Hillman Imp; she planned to try racing it herself but did not make any starts in it.

Her first big race was in 1970, although she may have taken part in some club rallies or autotests earlier. She entered the Singapore Grand Prix, then held on a 4.8km street circuit. Her car was a Mini Cooper, which unfortunately did not last the distance.

A few weeks later, she raced in Malaysia for the first time. She took the Mini to the Batu Tiga track at Shah Alam and finished third in a race there. In April, she won the under-1000cc class at the Selangor Grand Prix.

At the end of the year, she entered the same car into the Macau Grand Prix, in the touring car race. She started from last on the 30-car grid, having only just qualified. There was an additional worry about an attack of german measles that almost kept her from the track.

Anne steadily progressed up the grid and took the lead after Johnny Leffler’s Ford Escort suffered a broken differential and Dieter Quester’s works BMW lost its gears.

Her Macau win led to offers of drives all over the Asia-Pacific region. In June 1971, she raced at Wanneroo Park in Australia, sharing a Mini with Australian driver Ric Lisle in a six-hour enduro. They were leading their class when a piston cracked after an hour and a half.

Shortly after that, she was set to travel to Manila for the Philippines Grand Prix. She did not make the start for reasons unknown, but she did predict that the race would be won by a Mini Cooper S in the Straits Times newspaper. She had already declined an entry in the BP Rally in order to concentrate on the Philippines race.

The invitation to race in Australia came while she was driving in another rally, the Rothmans event, in Hong Kong. For a change, she was driving a Simca 1200 offered by National Motors of Hong Kong. She did not finish after an off into some water.

Her second attempt at the Singapore Grand Prix was more fruitful. She was seventh overall in the Mini from 26 starters, and her top ten was in spite a lengthy pitstop to deal with a loose exhaust.

She tried again in at Macau too, and was seventh, in the Mini. This was one of her first events with her new sponsorship from Malaysia Singapore Airlines (MSA). By now, she was a popular media figure; this was helped by her sideline as a motoring journalist for the Straits Times and other papers.

Announcements at the start of 1972 proclaimed that Anne would be taking part in fifteen events, including some of the saloon rounds of the Tasman Series in Australia. Her first event was the Manila Grand Prix. She was billed as racing against 173 men, but the results are proving hard to find. She may also have taken part in another Singapore Grand Prix.

In April, she did her first race in Indonesia, when she entered the Penang Grand Prix. Later in the year, she won the saloon race at the Indonesian Grand Prix, held at Antjol. She started from third and defeated eleven other drivers.

Her third Macau Grand Prix ended in disaster. She had qualified fifth on the grid but had to retire on the first lap due to a fire in her Mini. It turned out to be an electrical short-circuit.

By this time, she was having trouble with sponsorship. MSA had become Singapore International Airways and they dragged their feet providing the funding for the Macau race. In early 1973, she pulled out of the Singapore Grand Prix, having sold her Mini. She said in the Straits Times that it was “not economical for a private entry to try and compete against factory teams.”

She did race at the Malaysian Grand Prix in a V8 Ford Fairmont, but she found it too wide for the narrow circuit. Her own write-up of the event suggested that she had won, but in fact she had been black-flagged. She later apologised in print.

In May, she was entered in to the Penang Grand Prix in an Alfa Romeo Berlina, but it is not clear whether she actually started the race.

She retired from the circuits in 1974 and continued to work as a journalist, as well as an advertising executive. In June, she made her debut as a jockey, winning a pro-am ladies’ race at Bukit Timah.

In 1979 she was the official starter for the Malaysian Grand Prix. She was not quite able to get her need for speed out of her system and reappeared in the Singapore press in 1984, this time racing powerboats. Six years later, in 1990, she entered the Rally of Singapore for the first time in almost twenty years.

She continued to work in advertising. Later, she married.

(Image copyright Straits Times)