Tuesday, 15 October 2019

Female Drivers Around the World: Korea

Kwon Bo Mi

This page has been created to document the increasing numbers of women racing cars in Korea. It will be expanded but the profiles below have been split off from Circuit Racers from Southeast Asia.

Kwon Bo Mi – Korean driver who races saloons in her home country. She began senior competition in 2011, after some years of karting. She only started karting to get herself out of depression due to her music career faltering. Her first season was interrupted by her car catching on fire during her first race, and broken ribs from a crash in a subsequent one. In 2014, she raced in the Veloster Turbo Cup in Korea, as well as acting as a coach to younger drivers. This is a Hyundai one-make series. As well as racing, she is a motoring TV presenter.

Min Jin Lim - Korean driver who races in the GR1 class of the Super Race championship. She has been involved with the series since 2018 and drives a Cadillac 6000 for the One Racing team. Her best result in 2019 seems to have been a tenth place towards the end of the season. Language barriers have prevented further information about her and her career being accessible.

Hyemin Moon – South Korean driver who competes in the TCSA (Touring Car Series Asia). She started out in 2015, racing a Toyota GT86 in a one-make championship. 2016 was her first season in the TCSA. Her car was a Honda CL7, and she did a full season, with at least one Independent class win, at Motegi. In 2017, she was second in one round of the TCSA. Unfortunately, language barriers have prevented any further effective research into Hyemin’s activities.

(Image copyright rpm9.com)

Sunday, 13 October 2019

Zenita Neville

Zenita Neville  raced in the USA and Canada in the 1920s. She was one of IMCA’s earliest “Champion Woman Drivers of the World”.

IMCA (International Motor Competition Association) was America’s leading promoter of oval racing from about 1910 up until WWII. Many female drivers competed in their events after the “official” US competition board, the AAA, banned women from taking part in sanctioned races and trials. Zenita Neville was one of its earliest female stars.

In 1920, she won her first race, at Combination Park in Massachusetts. The track was a half-mile dirt oval. A couple of weeks later, she won again at Fitchburg Fairground, also in Massachusetts. Her car was a Hudson and this was her regular car between 1920 and 1922. During this time she won at least nine races, all in the northern states and mostly on the East coast. 

In 1922, she also raced a Peerless and an Essex. She travelled to Canada this year, appearing at tracks in Calgary and Edmonton, where she raced against Sig Haugdahl. Photographs show her with a Peugeot at Daytona, but I have been unable to find any results for her in this car. A Canadian paper (the Leader Post from Regina) claims that she won a long-distance race “the Florida beach” the year before. In 1921, Zenita herself claimed to have driven “close to 100mph on the beach at Daytona”. News reports local to Daytona itself make no mention of her at all.

Her normal racing venues were fairground tracks, and she often competed against a driver called Bill Endicott. Their match races would sometimes be preceded by a public disagreement in the local press, usually with Endicott in his capacity as IMCA’s “Dean of Racing Drivers” wishing to bar women from competing and “Miss Neville” defending herself and other women drivers. It was a less well-known fact that “Wild” Bill Endicott, previously known as “Farmer Bill”, was Zenita Neville’s husband.

She was described as the “Champion Woman Driver of the World” and IMCA publicity sometimes claimed she was the only professional female driver in America. 

It is hard to assess how good a driver she actually was. IMCA and other dirt-track promoters were not above stage-managing their events to create more drama and column inches. There are no records of Zenita crashing her car; she seems to have been competent in her handling of it. She often took part in speed trials as well as races, these were harder to influence and may prove a better way of assessing her talent. She won one of these trials at Combination Park, Medford, in 1921, completing two half-mile laps two seconds faster than her nearest rival and appears to have got the better of Endicott over similar distances.

After 1922, she disappears from the entry lists. Her post-motorsport life remains a mystery but we do have some clues as to her previous occupation. Newspaper articles from 1911 talk of a young actress with the same name. The Marshall County News-Democrat described her as hailing from Chicago when she played the lead role in “The Wyoming Girl”. A year later, she crops up in Iowa in the Denison Review, playing the trombone in the Aulger Bros Band. 

(Image copyright Minneapolis Star)

Wednesday, 9 October 2019

Veronika Cicha (Jaksch)

Veronika Cicha is a Czech driver who races a GP2 car in the BOSS and MaxxFormula championships in Europe. 

She began her career in hillclimbs, driving Mitsubishi Lancers. Between 2011 and 2014, she competed extensively around central Europe in both a Lancer Evo IV and a WRC05 Lancer. In 2014, she also had a go at rally co-driving in a similar car, sitting alongside Karel Stehlik in the Rallye Liberec. 

In 2015, she started competing in the BOSS series, in a GP2 car from 2005. This car ran in the Formula class, alongside that of her Top Speed team-mate and partner, Wolf Jaksch. She was eighth overall in her first season, with a best finish of fourth in class at Assen. 

In 2016, she only did a part-season and was 18th. This was partly due to a string of non-finishes mid-season and Monza and Assen. Her best result was sixth in the Formula class at Hockenheim. 

She struggled with reliability again in 2017, but has also managed two seventh places and one ninth. She was fourteenth overall. Mid-season, she changed teams from FXtreme to H&A Racing and also changed cars, from a 2005 to a 2008 Dallara GP2.

2018 was a better year; she was seventh in the championship and earned one second place at Assen, back in the 2005 car that she knew best. 

At the end of 2018, she was announced as one of the 55 initial candidates for the all-female W Series. Despite her experience in handling very powerful single-seaters, she did not make the initial cut at the first selection event. She did not seem overly concerned and concentrated on her new venture for 2019, a debut season in the MaxxFormula championship. This series is very similar to BOSS. She also married Wolf Jaksch and began racing under the name Veronika Jaksch.

She continued to use the GP2 car and was rewarded with two second places at Zandvoort to start her season, having qualified fourth. These were her best finishes, the next best being several fourth places.

(Image copyright BOSS GP)

Wednesday, 2 October 2019

Marie-Odile Desvignes

Marie-Odile Desvignes is a rally driver and one of the original members of the all-female Team Aseptogyl as well as one of its longest-serving. 

She began her rally career with the team in 1971, alongside her twin sister, Anne-Marie, as a complete novice. Aseptogyl founder Bob Neyret selected the sisters not only due to their experience with Alpine mountain roads, achieved through their jobs in ski resorts, but also because blonde identical twins were a handy media draw. Anne-Marie was only part of the team for a very short time, but Marie-Odile proved herself to be one of Aseptogyl’s most effective members.

For major rallies, she usually acted as a co-driver for Claudine Trautmann, until she retired in 1975, but she was also a decent driver in her own right.

Her first year in the navigator’s seat was spent next to Claudine Trautmann at the wheel of either an Alpine-Renault A110 or for rougher events, a Renault 16. The two Frenchwomen were particularly skilled on very difficult, car-breaker rallies and finished third on that year’s Bandama event, held in the Ivory Coast.

Throughout her career, she was often partnered by Francoise Conconi. Christine Rouff and Brigitte Carrier also sat beside Marie-Odile in 1971 and 1972, in the Chataigne, Bayonne and Rallye de l’Ouest events, plus more on the French calendar. One of Marie-Odile’s biggest events of 1971 was the Criterium des Cevennes, which she entered with Francoise. Marie-Pierre Palayer sat beside Claudine.

She also had a short but successful partnership with Annick Girard, another of the original Aseptogyl team. They were eighth in the Antibes Rally and fifth in the National section of the Alpine Rally. 

Marie-Odile and Francoise were entered into the 1972 Paris-St. Raphael Rally and were third in the National standings. The same year, they won the Coupe des Dames in the Criterium des Cevennes. Marie-Odile did her first Neige et Glace Rally as a driver, having co-driven for Claudine Trautmann the previous year in one of their earliest events together, finishing twelfth. She encountered more snow on the Lyon-Charbonnieres event and seems to have finished, although the result is not forthcoming.

Although she is mainly associated with Aseptogyl, Marie-Odile did drive for other teams and in other cars. She did some French rallies in an Alfa Romeo 2000 and finished the 1973 Rally Mistral in 54th place. She also sampled a Porsche 911 for the 1973 Tour de France, assisted by Brigitte Carrier.

In her Aseptogyl Alpine, she entered the Ronde Giraglia in Italy.

1973 to 1975 were mostly spent in the navigator’s seat. As Claudine Trautmann wound down her career, Marie-Odile shared co-driving duties for Christine Dacremont with Francoise. She usually took on the rougher events, as before. She and Claudine were fourth overall in the 1974 World Cup Rally, which took a very circuitous route via the Sahara desert between London and Munich. Only 19 out of 70 cars finished, and Claudine’s Peugeot 504 was the second of three Aseptogyl entries. Co-driving in a non-Aseptogyl 1800 Alpine-Renault, she helped Michel Alibelli to a win in the 1974 Bayonne-Cote Basque Rally.

After 1975, she seems to take a step back from motorsport. One of her latest events seems to have been the 1975 Rallye Côte-Côte, driving a Peugeot 504 with Yveline Vanoni. A reference on the French “Forum Auto” is made to a serious accident on the Rallye Antibes, which may have something to do with it.

She was part of a later iteration of the Aseptogyl team in 1976, driving an Autobianchi A112. She entered the Monte Carlo Rally with Jacqueline Perrin on the maps, although they did not finish. 

Much later, in the 2010s, she came out of retirement to do some historic rallies in an Alpine A110. 

(Image from the “Team Aseptogyl” Facebook page)

Saturday, 28 September 2019

Diane Teel

Diane Teel  raced in the NASCAR Nationwide (now Xfinity) Series in 1982 and 1983 and was one of its most successful female drivers. 

In 1982, she scored her first top ten finish, an eighth place at Hampton in a Pontiac. This was one of four races she entered that year, with three of them leading to finishes. She was 26th at Martinsville and 15th at Richmond, but did not finish at South Boston, her last Nationwide race of the year.

She followed this up with a tenth place at Martinsville in 1983. Martinsville was her home track, and it was here that she made her Busch Series debut in 1984, the first woman to race in the series. Unfortunately, it was a one-off, and her Pontiac overheated fairly early. 

She had one more try at the Busch Series, as NASCAR’s second-tier championship had become known, in 1986. She finished one race at Hampton, in 21st place. 

She had begun racing in 1976, when her NASCAR crew chief husband Donald Teel and Langley Park promoter Joe Carver entered her into a local race as a publicity stunt to promote a local car parts business. She spun off near the end of the race, her car dumping water on the track. 

In 1977, she moved into the Limited Sportsman division and was on the pace very quickly. Her best finish was second, one of three podium finishes. Her first-ever race in her Chevrolet Chevelle stock car gave her an eighth place; she had run as high as fifth but spun on sand and water at the edge of the track going for fourth. At the end of the season, she was runner-up in the Langley Limited Sportsman rookie standings, with 16 top-ten finishes from 19 races, half of them top-fives.

As a competitive female driver, Diane gained considerable media attention. In July that year, she won a match race with Langley’s other regular woman driver, Bonnie West, who raced in a different division. Diane finished several laps in front and picked up a $100 prize. A series of profile interviews syndicated in local papers took pains to point out her commitment to her role as a wife and mother and disassociate her from any feminist activity.

She won the championship the following year and became the first woman to win an official NASCAR-sanctioned event in the process. Her first win was at Langley Park, the scene of her less-than-successful debut. As well as winning her local title, she took the next step up the NASCAR ladder to the Grand National series. Naturally, she found higher-level competition hard-going and was not always able to qualify. She was one of ten drivers who did not make the cut for the 1978 Dixie 500 and she did not start for the Martinsville Grand National race in 1979 either, finishing one place below the required eighth place in the qualification race. 

She continued to be a force to be reckoned with at Langley Speedway, winning races in its Limited Sportsman category in 1980 and 1981. In 1981, she tried again at Martinsville in a Late Model Sportsman car. Daily Press journalist Bob Mings was scathing about her efforts, pointing out that she was running 18th out of 19 cars when she had to stop near the end. Several of the paper’s readers wrote in to criticise his treatment of Diane, whose car had suffered a clutch problem requiring a lengthy pit stop and dropped her down the order.

By the time of her 1982 Nationwide debut, she had mostly silenced her doubters. Her name appears on entry lists, not in opinion columns. She and Donnie spoke directly to their local paper, the Virginia Daily Press, in 1983, explaining how the rising costs of competing at the next level, coupled by Nationwide races promised at local circuits which never happened, had affected her career. Later, in 1986, the Newport News reported that she had raised some funds for her racing through hosting a series of seafood suppers, which she cooked herself.

Following her retirement in 1986, she continued her work as a school bus driver, a career she had followed alongside her racing activities. A couple of months before her on-track debut, she had won her class in a School Bus Rodeo.

(Image copyright South Boston Speedway)

Tuesday, 17 September 2019

The W Series

(For a more detailed discussion of Speedqueens’ stance on W Series and a review of the TV show, click here.)

The inaugural W Series championship ran in the summer of 2019. It was billed as the first-ever all-female single-seater championship. (The Esso All-Ladies Formula Ford race in 1985 was actually the first.)

Eighteen drivers were chosen to race Formula 3 Regional cars, with two “reserve” drivers who were intended to deputise for injured colleagues and only took part in a few actual races.

There were six championship races of roughly half an hour each, plus one non-championship race which ran using a reverse-grid format. The series acted as one of the supports for the DTM in Europe.

W Series was launched with a huge media drive, with former Formula 1 driver David Coulthard acting as one of its public figureheads. He was also one of the judges for the initial driver selection events. Lyn St. James, who had previously been pivotal in the similar Women’s Global GT Series, was another. 60 racers from all round the world were assessed; through a combination of elimination and voluntary dropping-out, this was whittled down to 20. All 20 selected drivers would have all of their expenses paid for the summer racing season and would receive a share of the $2m prize pot.

There is nothing especially innovative about an all-female racing series but W Series did introduce some relatively novel concepts, including the no-cost nature of entry. Drivers were made to swap cars after every race and worked with a different team of mechanics every day. This was ostensibly to prevent the more mechanically-minded among them from gaining an advantage. Prohibitions were also placed on testing and competing in F3 cars during the W season. No driver was permitted to take part in an F3 race on any of the six circuits the series visited, unless she was fully signed up for that championship. Testing was not allowed. Drivers were allowed limited sessions on a simulator to prepare prior to a race weekend. There were no competing teams; all cars were run centrally by Hitech Grand Prix on behalf of W Series itself.

Many were critical of the whole idea, chiefly Indycar driver Pippa Mann and European F3 racer Sophia Floersch. Both drivers, along with others, considered it a step towards sex segregation in motorsport and believed that the money involved would have been better spent supporting female racers in existing championships. Some of this criticism died down but a few concerns arose during the season about safety and standards of car preparation. Jamie Chadwick, Alice Powell and others experienced difficulty downshifting under full steering lock in some of the Tatuus FRegional cars, for example. 

Early indications were that W Series was intended as a reality TV-style competition. The first set of driver assessments took place in the unlikely setting of a frozen track and used road cars, not a situation likely to arise in an F3 championship. Announcements of who had made the cut and who would have to “fight for their place” had a distinctly X Factor flavour. However, the races themselves proved popular with spectators as a sporting contest and W became more of a serious competition than when it started. The organisers attempted to mix things up a little by dropping a struggling Megan Gilkes to reserve status after a free practice session where she had been relatively quick, but this proved highly unpopular and was not repeated.

Jamie Chadwick was the first champion, winning two of the six races. This was not unexpected as she was the entrant with the most notable and recent successes on her CV. BMW junior driver Beitske Visser was second. Alice Powell, winner of the final round at Brands Hatch, was third although she could have finished higher had she not encountered a series of car problems. The other races were won by Marta Garcia and Emma Kimilainen. Megan Gilkes won the reverse-grid non-championship race from pole.

2019 Standings

  1. Marta Garcia
  2. Tasmin Pepper
  3. Sabre Cook
  4. Caitlin Wood
  5. Esmee Hawkey
  6. Sarah Bovy (Reserve)
  7. Megan Gilkes

The top twelve 2019 drivers were automatically invited back for the 2020 season. Any of the eight additional 2019 intake were permitted to reapply for 2020, alongside 15 new drivers.

(Image copyright Matthias Hangst/Getty Images)

Friday, 13 September 2019

Janina Depping

Janina (left) with Ina Schaarschmidt

Janina Depping was one of Germany’s foremost female rally drivers of the early 2000s. She is most associated with the Mitusbishi Lancer.

She took part in seven World Championship rallies during her seventeen-year career: three of them were the 2004, 2007 and 2011 editions of the Rallye Deutschland. The best of these for her was the 2011 Rallye, when she finished 38th overall but ninth in class, driving a Lancer Evo IX. Her earliest WRC experience was in 1997, when she was just nineteen. She competed in the Rallye Sanremo and the Tour de Corse in a Ford Escort and Skoda Felicia respectively. She would revisit these two rallies once more, finishing the 1998 Sanremo event in a Mitsubishi Carisma.

Earlier, she had been eighth in a pre-WRC Rallye Deutschland, in 1999. Her car was a Ford Escort RS Cosworth; she would have one of the best seasons of her career in it. That year, she was also fifth in the International ADMV-Pneumant-Rallye and seventh in the Van Staveren-Zuiderzeerally, as well as recording top-ten finishes in five other rallies. She was eighth in that year’s German championship.

The early success she experienced in her career came from having started young. Janina grew up around rallies: her father Bernd Depping competed in the 1980s when she was a child and her uncle Dieter Depping was a multiple German champion in the 1990s, sometimes with Janina’s aunt, also called Janina, as co-driver. She began rallying herself in 1996, at 18. Her first event was the Baumholder Hunsruck National Rally, held on the same military range as Rallye Deutschland. She drove the Escort, although she quickly switched to a Suzuki Swift for the rest of the year and some of 1997. 

Her only outright win came in 1999. She was the victor in the Hunsruck Junior Rallye, driving a Proton Wira.  

In 2008, she was runner-up in the Group N class of the European Rally Challenge, after a string of strong finishes. She competed in the Netherlands and Belgium that year as well as Germany, driving a Lancer Evo VII, a car she used for five seasons, including a second one in the ERC in 2009. Her best finish that year was a tenth place in the Lausitz Rallye. Sadly, her events in the Netherlands and Italy led to retirement. 

After a year off in 2010, she returned to the stages in 2011, and was 38th in the Rallye Deutschland in a new Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX. Later in the year, she was seventh in the ADAC Rallyesprint.eu, against 59 other drivers.

In 2012, she used the same car in a mixture of German championship rallies. She was second and fourth in the two ADMV Wedemerk Rallye events, ninth in the Sachsen Rallye and eighth in the Rallye Erzgebirge. This represented a return to form after a couple of years spent more on the sidelines.

In 2013, she continued to compete in German events, recording an eighth place in the Sachsen Rallye and a class win on the Grabfeld Rallye, twelfth overall.

Sadly, she died following an accident on the Wartburg Rallye, in which her co-driver Ina Schaarschmidt also perished. Janina’s Lancer Evo IX had hit a tree at high speed and caught fire. Ina died at the scene and Janina succumbed to her injuries four days later. The pair had been working together since 2011.

(Image copyright Sascha Dorrenbacher)

Monday, 9 September 2019

Louise Roberge

Louise Roberge was a Canadian racer of the late 1960s and early 1970s, most famous for her exploits in a Formula Ford car. She was a contemporary and rival of Monique Proulx

According to a newspaper interview she gave in she began racing in a Mini in 1968, and was fifth in her first race. She did at least three rounds of the same championship in 1969, scoring a fourth, fifth and sixth place in the Class A series for cars up to 1300cc. All three races took place at the Mont-Tremblant circuit. In the same interview, with the Winnipeg Free Press, she claimed to have done some rallies at high school, which would have been shortly before her early marriage to Matthieu Roberge when she was 18. Unusually, Louise was a married mother of three when her career began and she always described her husband as supportive, even when she crashed the Mini in the early part of her career. 

Few other details of her early career are readily available, although she is said to have picked up her love of cars from her father. According to another 1971 interview in the Brandon Sun, the fifth place was in a racing school event and she did four further novice races in 1969, in order to upgrade her license. Among her rivals in the Mini was Louis Germain, her partner in the design firm she managed, Caractera Limited. The pair often raced together and Louis acted as her mechanic. Louise’s husband Matthieu had no involvement in motorsport at all, other than helping to bankroll her career.

Away from the circuits, Louise was also said to be a skilled driver on ice. The Ottawa Citizen in January 1969 reports that she had run as high as fourth in an Ottawa Winter Carnival Grand Prix, driving a Mini. She did not finish after the exhaust came off. A ninth place in an ice race across the Plains of Abraham is detailed in a 1970 Winnipeg Free Press article and is said to have occurred in 1969. Louise was one of the organisers of the same event in 1970. She must have done more ice races in the early part of her career, as she talks of crashing out of one of them.

In 1970, she began racing single-seaters, after taking more tuition at the Jim Russell Racing Drivers’ School. Her first single-seater car was a Lotus 61, which was replaced by a Lotus 69 later in the season. She did five rounds of the Molson Quebec championship in this car, scoring a best finish of sixteenth at Trois-Rivieres, in the 61. She had some sponsorship from a tobacco company and her car was apparently white with a rainbow stripe detail.

In 1971, driving the 69 in Quebec Formula B, she was sixth at Mont Tremblant in May. Her other known results are two non-finishes. Louis Germain was also active in the series this year, as was Gilles Villeneuve, who finished below Louise in the final standings. She was sixteenth, which suggests that she did finish some other races that year.

It was this year that another female driver, Monique Proulx, appeared on the scene. She and Louise did not race each other directly as Monique was in saloons at this point, but the press was keen to play up any rivalry between the two. In a 1972 interview with the Calgary Herald, Monique stated that Louise “did not like her” and refused to be in a photograph with her. “She’s a good driver, Louise, but she does not push. Me, I push,” she is quoted as saying.

Louise may also have owned or raced a Lotus 51, although further race results have proved very hard to track down. Any results from 1972 are proving equally difficult to find; Monique Proulx’s comments suggest that she was still racing that year.

The 69 was sold in 1973 and she seems to stop competing around that time. Earlier, in the 1971 Winnipeg Free Press interview, she said that she expected to stop racing when she was 30, although she did not elaborate on this. In the same piece, she made a cryptic comment that one of her three children was destined for motorsport fame, but declined to say which one.

In addition to racing cars, Louise was said to be an enthusiast of adventure sports in general, including canoeing, skating and sky-diving. She may also have worked as a model at some point.

She fades into obscurity after 1973.

(Image copyright Ottawa Citizen)

Thursday, 5 September 2019

Michelle Halder

Michelle Halder races in the German TCR series and became the first female driver to win a race outright in 2019. 

She was driving a Honda Civic Type-R and her historic win came at Zandvoort. The car is run by Profi-Car Team Halder, her family team. Michelle races against her brother Mike, who drives for the Profi-Car ADAC Honda team. Their respective team-mates, Marcel and Dominik Fugel, are also siblings.

Michelle started competing in the TCR championship full-time in 2018 in a SEAT Cupra, following some time in single-seaters. She earned her first podium positions this year: two overall second places at Most and Sachsenring. She was ninth in the championship. 

As well as TCR, she tried some more powerful machinery in the Audi Sport Seyffarth R8 LMS Cup, picking up a fifth place at Hockenheim as the best of her three finishes.

She has not always raced with a roof over her head; following a karting career that included a championship win in 2013, she initially gravitated towards the single-seater ladder. At the age of 16, she began her senior career in the ADAC Formula 4 championship.

It was a very steep learning curve and her best result in 2015 was a 20th place, in the last round of the season at Hockenheim. Her final championship position was 47th, and 19th in the Rookie standings. She was driving for the Engstler team. 

Another Formula 4 season beckoned for 2016, for Engstler. It turned out to be a part-season, and her best finish was 24th, at Hockenheim and Oschersleben. She missed the mid-part of the racing calendar and struggled for finances.

In 2017, she took her first steps in touring cars, racing a SEAT Leon in the STT (Spezial Tourenwagen Trophae) series with her brother, Mike. They earned a second and two third places at the Nurburgring and were tenth overall. This was Michelle’s first top-ten finish in cars and her first podium. 

She did consider a return to single-seaters in 2019 and was one of the initial 55 drivers under consideration for the all-female W Series. However, she chose to stick with TCR and ruled herself out of the W running before its first selection event, as the timetables of the two championships clashed. Her TCR victory was ironically overshadowed by the W Series finale.

(Image copyright reifenpresse.de)

Monday, 2 September 2019

Rina Ito

Rina Ito is a Japanese driver who has competed in both racing and rallying, in Japan and also in the rest of Asia. 

In common with other drivers including Keiko Ihara, Rina’s first introduction to motorsport was as a scantily-clad grid girl, in 2006, when she was 20. She continued in this role, on and off, until 2017. It was only a couple of years before she got behind the wheel herself and she was karting by 2008.

Her senior rallying career came first and she has been active in Japanese and Asia-Pacific rallying since 2010, usually driving a Mazda 2 Demio to begin with. She took part in the Rally of Hokkaido in 2011, and is listed as an entrant for the 2012 Asia Pacific Rally Championship, although the results are proving elusive. 

She had a decent season in Japanese rallying in 2013, with a best finish of 24th, in the Osaka University Tango Peninsula Tango Rally. In 2013, she equalled this result, in the Hokkaido Rally, still in the Mazda. That year, she competed overseas in the New Zealand Rally, in a Honda Civic, but had an off on the final stage. 

She continued to rally in 2015, mostly in Japan, but with one run in the Rally of Whangerei, in New Zealand, which she did not finish. Her best finish was 27th, in the Fukushima Rally. In 2016, she entered the Shinshiro Rally, in a Toyota Aqua. She was 42nd overall. She drove another Toyota, a Vitz, in 2017, and earned her first top-twenty finish: 20th in the Kumakogen Rally. Another season in the Vitz followed and she had a best finish of 27th in the Hokkaido Rally. 

The 2018 rally season finished in much the same way, although she did take a step forward in 2019, contesting the Japanese championship and progressing well in the JN-6 class. Her best result overall was probably her 24th place in the Shinshiro Rally; she beat 20 other drivers and was also second in class.

Her circuit racing career took a little longer to get going and it was 2012 before she got a significant ride. That year, she took part in two Super Endurance races at Okoyama and Suzuka. She raced a Toyota GT86 in 2013, in the Fuji Champion Cup and also a one-make series for that model of car. 

It was not long before Rina was competing internationally. She travelled to Korea in 2015 for the Korea Speed Festival, driving a Hyundai Veloster Turbo. She did three races, with a best finish of sixth. Back home, she took part in one-make championships for the Mini and the Toyota GT86. 2016 was her first year in the Professional class, having already raced in the Celebrity class. It was also her first involvement with Team Bride, for which she would later race in the Super Taikyu series.

2017 featured a lot of single-sex racing. She competed on-track in Japan's all-female Kyojo Cup and the Thai-based Toyota Vios Lady Cup. She won the Lady Cup title in 2017. A second season in the Kyojo Cup, which uses small sports prototypes, gave her a seventh place in 2018.

She seems to be concentrating on rallying in 2019.

(Image copyright Rina Ito)