Friday, 7 June 2019

Irina Sidorkova



Irina Sidorkova is a title-winning junior touring car driver from Russia who has recently moved into single-seater competition.

She first raced at a Moscow rally show in 2015, when she was just eleven. This was the beginning of her involvement with the Volkswagen Academy which supported the saloon part of her career. Prior to this, she raced karts in Russia, Estonia and Finland. She won a championship in Estonia in 2012.

Her early interest seemed to be in rallying; she was a junior in the Rally section of the VW Academy and drove a Polo in a Finnish rally, where she was 22nd overall. This was before she even hit her teens.

She then gravitated towards the circuits and raced a Volkswagen Polo in the Russian national junior touring car championship. In 2017, she won two of her eight races, at Fort Grozny and Nizhny Novgorod. She also scored two second places at Smolensk. This took her to second place in the National Junior class of the Russian Circuit Racing series. On ice, she won in St Petersburg, taking home the Ice Circuit Racing Cup.

In 2018, she updated her second place to a championship with three wins in the early part of the season, at Fort Grozny and Smolensk. Three further podium positions kept her ahead of her Polo team-mate, Pavel Kuzminov.

Late in the season, she was entered into the Assen rounds of the SMP Formula 4 championship. This was her first experience of single-seaters and she finished all three races in thirteenth place.

At the beginning of 2019, she was announced as one of SMP’s drivers in the Spanish Formula 4 championship, in a car run by the DriveX team. She was still not yet sixteen. Her first meeting with the series at Navarra resulted in her first top ten, an eighth place. She later finished sixth at Motorland in Spain.

Her management has expressed hopes that she will represent Russia in the W Series in 2020.

(Image copyright SMP Racing)

Friday, 31 May 2019

Lorna Snow


Lorna (right) with her co-driver Juliet Slatter in 1952

Lorna Doone Snow rallied in Britain and Europe in the 1950s. She was more known for her flamboyant style and social antics, but she was a very capable driver.


Her name first appears in connection with cars in 1941, when she was caught speeding in Wandsworth and fined 20s. She is reported by the Norwood News to have said “the time when traffic policemen frightened me is past,” suggesting that this was not her first misdemeanour.


Like many of motorsport’s more colourful characters, her background is rather unclear. Born in 1914, by 1942 she was the landlady of Ye Olde Six Bells pub at Billingshurst. While in this post, she fell foul of traffic police again when she was fined for “failing to immobilise her car during a blackout”.


By 1949, she was part of London society, appearing at a prizegiving for the Feathers Association.


Later, she was sometimes referred to as Lady Lorna Doone Snow (she did not have a real title) and she put her pub past behind her, if not her love of driving fast.


Her first big event seems to have been the 1951 Daily Express Rally, a long-distance trial, which she entered in a Jaguar XK120. Daily Express journalist Basil Cardew, who often championed female rally drivers, reported that she filled the washer bottles with brandy to provide “a stimulating odour”. Her car was also equipped with a makeup kit under its jaguar-skin seats.


In July that year, she set the ladies’ Fastest Time of the Day in the Ramsgate Speed Trials, also in the Jaguar. She was second in the Ladies’ class of the Brighton Speed Trials, behind Eleanor Allard.


In 1952, she is recorded as coming second in the Ladies' class of the Daily Express Rally, driving a Jaguar. She did her first overseas events this year, taking the Jaguar to the Tulip Rally with a G Meijer as her co-driver. She returned to this event in the same car the following year, finishing 103rd with “Mrs Tozzi”. Earlier in the year, she had entered the Monte Carlo Rally; her result is not forthcoming but it was reported in Motor Sport that her car’s luggage rack failed to stop when she did.


She took a “fastest lady” award in the speed test section of the 1953 RAC Rally, held at Silverstone, but retired between the circuit and Castle Combe.


The Scottish Rally was the scene of a more dramatic incident, recounted in Sheila van Damm’s autobiography. Lorna managed to collide with another competitor, damaging one side of her Jaguar. Sheila van Damm was soon on the scene and once she had ascertained that Lorna was uninjured and her car still mobile, demanded that she move it so that the rest of the field could continue. Lorna dropped her ladylike image for a moment and told Sheila to go away in rather coarser terms. She restarted and even made the time control in time.


It is not clear in how many Monte Carlo rallies she participated, but she was definitely part of a three-woman team in 1954 with Diana, Duchess of Newcastle and Reina Whittelle, who had partnered her in the 1951 Daily Express event. They were classified 267th in a Sunbeam Talbot. She reappears in the principality in 1958, this time as a driver, in a Morris. She does not appear to have finished.  


In 1962, she hosted a party for lady drivers who had competed on the Monte, including Pat Moss-Carlsson, who had won that year’s Coupe des Dames in a Mini, Tish Ozanne, another 1962 finisher, and Kay Petre. The occasion was covered by the Daily Express and Lorna took great delight in telling the reporter that she had subjected all of her guests to a makeover, including matching curly hairstyles. Sheila van Damm, a good friend, was not spared this treatment.


The Hastings & St Leonards Observer talks of her entry in the Concours d’Elegance of the 1954 MCC Rally, which suggests she took part in the rally itself. In her own typical style, she would co-ordinate her outfits to her cars, particularly for concours events. One of her Jaguars was dark blue and white and she had a special outfit made to match it. Not content with jaguar seats in her rally car, she sometimes accessorised with a jaguar-skin coat or hat.


In 1958, she appears on the entry list of the Scottish Rally, driving a Jaguar Coupe.


Lorna also raced on the circuits occasionally. She was the winner of a 1955 Ladies’ Handicap at Goodwood in the Jaguar, ahead of Hazel Dunham and Jean Bloxam. She raced again at Goodwood in 1957.


As the 1950s gave way to the 1960s, she competed less, although she remained a semi-regular presence in the gossip columns, masterminding the social debuts and subsequent marriages of her two sons. She is still referred to as a rally driver, but she also appears to be working in the fashion industry.


She was involved in the creation of the "Golden Healey" show car, providing its fur seats.


Lorna died in 1998, shortly after marrying George Wheatley. She married several times during her life but chose to use the surname she shared with her first husband, Francis Snow, whom she married in 1934. Her family name was Turpie and Doone was her middle name.


Sheila van Damm sums her up in her autobiography, No Excuses:


“Flamboyant, even theatrical, she added a splash of colour to the rally world, although it was a mistake to underrate her ability as a driver. No-one took her seriously - least of all herself, for she has a wicked sense of humour.”


(Thanks to members of TNF, particularly Bill.)


(Image copyright Shutterstock)

Friday, 17 May 2019

Sharon Scolari


Sharon Scolari is a Swiss driver who races in the Formula 3 Regional European Championship.

Most of her racing career has been in the Lotus Cup in Europe.

She began her career in Legends in Italy, in 2011. As there is no legal petrol-powered motorsport in Switzerland and Sharon is an Italian speaker, this was a logical choice. She was fifteen years old, and won the Rookie class. Legends would be her racing home for three seasons. Her best finish in the overall championship was fourth.

Between 2014 and 2017, she raced a Lotus Elise, initially in the Italian Lotus championship. She was fifth overall. After a year’s break, she stepped up to the European Cup, and was thirteenth overall, third in the Open class. Her best results were three seconds and a third, and she secured her first class win in the last round at Le Mans. This was the end product of a difficult learning year that began with a non-classified finish at Hockenheim, through a first top-ten at Paul Ricard, a penalty at Brands Hatch for an incorrect start behind a safety car and her first class victory in the last race of the season.

In 2017, she raced in the Lotus Cup again, and was ninth, second in the Open class. She came close to an Open class championship, winning nine times, but had to settle for second behind David Harvey.

She raced in the Formula Renault Northern European Cup in 2018, for a part-season, and managed a best finish of second at the Nurburgring. She was eleventh in the championship; her results were better in the second part of her season. The year was interrupted by a crash at Spa, which put her out of the second Spa race and the Hungaroring rounds. It does not seem to have deterred her in any way and she came back stronger. Her team, ScoRace, was run by her family and was described by an onlooker as “her and a mechanic”.

At the end of 2018, Sharon applied to take part in the all-female W Series and was selected for the first assessments in January 2019. She did not progress beyond the initial stages and expressed her frustration on social media, claiming that she had been one of the fastest drivers on the final “Race of Champions” test and had not gone through. She also claimed that participants were prevented from knowing or sharing the reasons for their rejection.

Not long after, she put her W Series woes behind her and signed up for the Formula Regional European Championship, which uses the same Tatuus Formula 3 car. Her ScoRace team was partnered by the Italian Viola Formula organisation.

It has so far been a tough learning experience, but Sharon posted her first top-five finish at Paul Ricard, the first round.

(Image copyright Sharon Scolari)

Wednesday, 8 May 2019

Women in Formula E


Thanks to the 2018 in-season test day that featured nine female drivers, Formula E has become somewhat associated with women racers. Carmen Jorda’s continuing association with the series, particularly the Nissan team, has helped this perception, even if her comments that Formula E cars are easier to drive for women than other single-seaters annoyed many.

The sad fact is that no female driver has competed in a Formula E race itself since 2016, when Simona de Silvestro picked up a few points for the Andretti team. This looks set to change in the near future, with Tatiana Calderon impressing in the in-season rookie tests and Jamie Chadwick building up a strong relationship with the NIO team.

2014-15 season

Simona de Silvestro (Andretti Autosport) - 27th (2 races)
Michela Cerruti (Trulli) - 29th (4 races)
Katherine Legge (Amlin Aguri) - 34th (2 races)

2015-16 season

Simona de Silvestro (Andretti Autosport) - 18th (10 races)

Test drivers:

Simona de Silvestro (Venturi 2018-19, official test driver)
Tatiana Calderon (completed 2019 rookie tests for Techeetah)
Jamie Chadwick (completed 2019 rookie tests for NIO)

2018 Ad-Diriyah “female drivers” test:

Simona de Silvestro (Venturi)
Tatiana Calderon (Techeetah)
Jamie Chadwick (NIO)
Carmen Jorda (Nissan eDAMS)
Amna al-Qubaisi (Virgin)
Pippa Mann (Dragon)
Katherine Legge (Mahindra)

(Image copyright Envision)

Wednesday, 24 April 2019

Marylin Niederhauser



Marylin Niederhauser is a Swiss driver who mainly competes in sportscar racing, having spent some time as a teenager in single-seaters.

Her first car races were in Formula 4 in Germany, driving for the Race Performance team. 2015 was her first year of senior motorsport, having raced karts since 2010, when she was fifteen. The Formula 4 season proved a challenge for her, and her best result was a 22nd place at the Sachsenring. She did not compete in all of the races this season, and was 49th in the championship, 22nd in the Rookie class. The team did not retain her services for 2016.

In 2016, she did eight F4 races for Rennsport Rossler, a new team to the championship. She had a best finish of 22nd again, at Oschersleben this time. After the fourth round, she parted company with Rossler, apparently amicably. She returned for the season finale with Lechner Motorsport, an Austrian team, but did not qualify.

Sensibly, she moved into sportscar racing in 2017, driving a KTM X-Bow in the GT4 European Series. She was part of an all-female Reiter team with Naomi Schiff and Caitlin Wood and they raced together in the championship’s Silver Cup. Her best result was sixth, at the Slovakiaring, one of four top-ten finishes, and she was 26th in the championship. The three had teamed up with Anna Rathe in the X-Bow for January’s 24 Hours and finished in 16th place.

Still in the X-Bow but mostly driving solo, she was one of the leading Pro-Am drivers in the 2018 Central Europe GT4 Cup, winning at Most and the Nurburgring and finishing second at Most, on the way to championship second, just five points behind winner Rob Severs.

At the end of 2018, Marylin attempted to restart her single-seater career in the all-female W Series, but did not make the cut in the first selection, although her erstwhile colleagues Naomi Schiff and Caitlin Wood did. She picked up a drive in the Porsche Sprint Challenge Central Europe shortly afterwards. Her car is a Cayman GT4. At the time of writing, she has performed well in testing and is well within a second of the leading driver.

(Image copyright Marylin Niederhauser)

Saturday, 20 April 2019

Bruna Tomaselli



Bruna Tomaselli is a Brazilian driver who is making her way up the US single-seater racing ladder.

Her senior career began in 2013, racing in Brazil’s Formula Junior championship at the age of 16. This followed two years of international karting. Formula Junior appears to be a Ford-based single-seater championship and Bruna spent two seasons there. She scored one podium in her first season, then her first win in 2014. She was fourth in that year’s championship.

She first raced in South American Formula 4 in 2015. She was sixth in the championship, with several fourth places as her best result. In contrast, she survived a nasty accident at Rio Hondo. That year, she also made guest appearances in Sprint Race in Brazil.

Back at home in 2016, she continued her Formula 4 campaign. During the season, she scored five podium positions, and was fourth in the championship. The best of her results was a second place at Rivera, behind Juan Manuel Casella. Her four third places were at Pinar.

Her big project for 2017 was moving to the States in order to race in the Cooper Tires FF2000 championship. In between, she travelled to Bahrain for its round of the MRF Challenge. Her best finish was eighth.

In the USA, she was twelfth at Road America, on her way to 21st in the championship. She was driving for the ArmsUp team and completed almost all of the season.

She did another year in USF2000 in 2018, finishing 16th overall with one seventh place as her best result. This came from the first race of the year at St Petersburg. Without a series of DNFs towards the end of the season, her finishing position would have been higher.

Back home, she also competed in Formula Academy Sudamericana, finishing fifth in the Formula Renault-based series.

At the end of the year, she applied to be one of the drivers for the all-female W Series in Europe, and was placed on the initial list of 60 hopefuls. After the first selection event, she was rejected and took to social media to express her confusion and disappointment. She had been among the fastest drivers on the final “Race of Champions” task, but was not retained.

She is racing in USF2000 again in 2019, for the leading Pabst Racing team. At the time of writing, she has scored a sixth and seventh place at her favoured circuit of St Petersburg.

Prior to her motorsport career, Bruna played football to a high level and still retains an interest in the women’s game in Brazil.

(Image copyright Bruna Tomaselli)

Monday, 15 April 2019

Marguerite Mareuse


Marguerite Mareuse raced at Le Mans in 1930 and 1931 with Odette Siko, in a Bugatti. Alongside Odette, she was one of the first women to enter the famous 24-hour race.

They were seventh on their first attempt in 1930, but disqualified in 1931 for refuelling too early after Odette misunderstood a pit signal. If their result had been allowed to stand, they would have been ninth. The Bugatti was a T40 and belonged to Marguerite.

Marguerite entered the 1933 race with Jean-Pierre Wimille, but did not start. Marguerite had been sponsoring him for the previous year in his racing endeavours.

At the time of her first Le Mans 24 Hours she was already 41 years old, older than her team-mate Odette Siko.

As well as Le Mans, Marguerite entered a few Grands Prix, including the Tunisian and Oranie events of 1932 in North Africa. The Tunisian race was held at Carthage in April and she was fourteenth overall, sixth in the Voiturette class.

A few weeks later, she crashed out of the Oranie race in Algeria; her Bugatti T51 suffered a collapsed front wheel, which triggered a tyre blowout and ended with the car flipping over. Its driver received facial injuries that needed hospital treatment. She was understandably missing from the Casablanca Grand Prix in May.

Her car made it to the Dieppe Grand Prix but it was mostly driven by Pierre Leygonie, as Marguerite had not really recovered. She raced wearing a protective leather mask, in red to match the rest of her outfit.

She was not averse to the publicity-focused, female-only events that proliferated around Paris at the time. Driving her Bugatti, she was fifth in the 1931 Grand Prix Feminin at Montlhery, two places behind Odette Siko. She was an early member of the Club Automobile Feminin and took part in its Paris-Cannes Rally in 1930. A little later, she was fourth in the Paris-Brussels Rally, another ladies-only event, driving a Peugeot.

She and Odette sometimes drove together, as they did for the 1930 Circuit des Routes Pavees, then run as a six-hour race. They competed over 560km in their Bugatti, but the race was stopped a few minutes from the end due to a serious accident in which spectators were killed. Marguerite returned to the event in 1931, driving solo. She won the Coupe des Dames from two other women and took the prize in the 1600cc racing car class.

She was also an accomplished rally driver and won the Coupe des Dames in Monte Carlo in 1933, driving a Peugeot and starting from Tallinn. Her co-driver was Louise Lamberjack and they were thirteenth overall. The Peugeot was her favoured car for rallying, and she entered the Monte again in 1934, starting at Umea and with Simone Gonnot as navigator. Her earliest victory was probably her Coupe des Dames in the 1932 Paris-Juan les Pins Rally, in which she was sixth overall.

It was not such plain sailing on the 1935 Monte, in which she suffered another terrifying accident. The Peugeot burst into flames after hitting a lorry that Marguerite’s co-driver Mlle Cormet tried to swerve. They were on the first leg of their journey between Umea and Stockholm in Sweden and the car was completely destroyed. Neither crew member was seriously injured.

Occasionally, for faster events such as the 1934 Criterium Paris-Nice, she still used the Bugatti. Later, she tried other cars, including a Hotchkiss in which she finished the 1936 Monte Carlo Rally, with Fernande Hustinx. She used the same or a similar car for that year’s La Turbie hillclimb, competing against the likes of Rene le Begue.

Her car for the 1937 International Morocco Rally is not recorded, but she shared it with Anne-Cecile Rose-Itier. They did not finish.

It is occasionally mentioned that Marguerite’s daughter or daughters was also involved with motorsport, and that one of them may have been married to rally driver and film-maker Christian de Cortanze, according to posters on the forum-auto message board.

She died in 1964, aged 75.

Tuesday, 9 April 2019

Susan Muwonge



Susan Muwonge is a multiple rally-winning Ugandan driver active since 2005. She is also known by her nickname, “Super Lady”.

At first, she drove a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 2 in rallysprints. She first competed in 2005, but burst onto the African rally scene in 2007, finishing the Pearl of Africa Uganda Rally in fifth place. Her car was a Subaru Impreza and she was the only woman to do complete the rally. She also won her country’s Clubmans’ championship.

The following year, she made the finish in Uganda, in fifth place. She also took part in the East African Rally Challenge, and was fourth in the Pearl of Africa event. At around this time, other female drivers began to appear in the Ugandan championship, and they often went by nicknames like Susan’s “Super Lady”. Rose Lwakataka, another Ugandan driver, was “The Black Bullet”.

In 2009, she concentrated on the Ugandan National championship, and was rewarded with her first outright win on the UMOSPOC Rally. She was fifth in the final standings.

She went back to rallysprints in Uganda in 2010, then returned to the African stages in 2011. This resulted in two wins in the season-opening MMC Rally and the Independence Rally, on the way to a Ugandan national championship title. She scored points in all of her events and earned two additional podium finishes. This was the first time this title had been won by a woman driver.

She planned to take a break in 2012 after certain rivalries went too far, but ended up back in the Ugandan championship. She did not win this time, but was the sole female finisher in the Pearl of Africa rally, in fifth place.

In 2013, she contested three rallies, coming seventh in the Pearl of Africa Rally in the Impreza, but recording DNFs in the MPU Challenge Rally and the Mosac Easter Sprint.

In 2014, she made another appearance in the Pearl of Africa Rally, and was thirteenth, in the Impreza. This was her only rally, as she had lost her major sponsor.

She was back in action in 2015, in an Impreza. Her best finish was a fifth place, in the Mountains of the Moon Rally. She was also sixth in the Pearl of Africa Rally.

In 2016, she was fourth in the Mountains of the Moon event, in the Impreza.

Susan returned to winning form in 2018, winning the Oryx Energies Elgon Rally outright in the Impreza. She also scored one second and two third places from seven events, the second spot on the crucial last round, which she started five points behind her nearest rival. This was enough to take her to a second Ugandan championship, even before she was promoted to winner of the Mbale final round due to a 10-minute penalty to Hassan Alwi.

Her critics claimed that she only won because three-time champion Jas Mangat withdrew, but she pointed to her previous title and said “you can’t fluke twice.”

Away from rallying, she is a teacher and runs a small school with her husband.

(Image from https://sports.chimpreports.com)

Wednesday, 20 March 2019

Michelle Gatting


Michelle Gatting is a Danish driver who has won races in single-seaters and saloons. In 2019, she entered Le Mans for the first time.

She began racing in 2011, after winning two Danish karting titles. A Formula Ford was her first senior racing car and she wasted no time in getting on the pace, finishing fourth in her first race. During the second half of the season, she was a constant presence on the podium and won her first race at Sturup. She was third in the championship.

In 2012, she moved to the VW Scirocco-R Cup in Germany, supported by the FIA Women in Motorsport commission. This was the first of two seasons in the series. She was eleventh in her first year, and fourth in the Junior standings after one class win. She also drove a Scirocco in the Merdeka Endurance Race in Malaysia, but did not finish.

Her second season was much more successful and she became one of the championship’s quickest drivers, managing four podium finishes. These were a third and three seconds early in the season. She was fifth overall.

In 2014, she moved into sportscar racing, and raced in the Porsche Carrera Cup in Germany. Her best result was 15th, in Oschersleben. Towards the end of the season, she did two rounds of the International GT Open. She was eleventh in one race at Spa in an Audi R8 LMS Ultra.

She did not race competitively in 2015, but she did test a Thundersports car, with a view to entering the championship in 2016. Her debut Thundersports season in 2016 was a good one; she scored one win, at Bellahoj, as well as two second places, finishing eighth in the championship. Her car was a Dodge Challenger.

2017 was another strong season, with seven podium finishes and seventh in the Thundersports championship.

In 2018, she raced a BMW in Supertourisme in Denmark, continuing her good run of form. She was third in the championship with three wins, at Rudsborg and Padskogen.  

Later in the season, she joined the Kessel team for the Gulf 12 Hours, having proven her mettle in big-engined, powerful cars. Kessel was running an all-female team. They were second in class and sixth overall. This led to an offer of a drive in Europe with Kessel, including the Le Mans 24 Hours. The team, consisting of Michelle, Rahel Frey and Manuela Gostner, is supported by the FIA Women in Motorsport Commission.

The FIA WiM also supported Michelle in joining another all-female team for the Sepang round of the Asian Le Mans Series, in a Ligier LMP3 car. Her team-mates were Margot Laffite and Katherine Legge. They were running as part of Keiko Ihara’s R24 team, which had two female-crewed cars in the race. Michelle’s team was eighth in the LMP3 class.

Michelle was initially named as a candidate for the inaugural W Series women’s Formula 3 championship, but dropped out in favour of joining the Kessel team and racing at Le Mans.

(Image copyright Kessel Racing)

Tuesday, 12 March 2019

Natalie Decker


Natalie Decker made history in 2018 by becoming the first woman driver to start the Daytona ARCA race from pole. She was fifth overall.

This was the start of her second season in ARCA with the Venturini team, who ran her in seven races in 2017, driving a Toyota. Her best finish was seventh, at Elkhart Lake, and she also finished in the top ten at Pocono, the race before.

She did almost the full ARCA championship in 2018, nine top-ten finishes from 20 races, including two fifths at Daytona and Elko. She only missed the Michigan round after undergoing surgery for a hernia.

Her first attempt at a major race was in 2016. She tried to qualify for a Camping World Trucks race at Martinsville in 2016, after being supported by the Alan Kulwicki driver development programme. She did not qualify. She was part of a three-woman Decker family team, with her older cousins Claire and Paige. The two sisters just managed to qualify.

She returned to the Trucks series in 2019, driving for David Gilliland. Her first race ended in a crash. By her third, at Las Vegas, she was into the top twenty for the first time with a thirteenth place.

At the end of 2018, she was announced as one of 60 drivers on the longlist for the women-only W Series Formula 3 championship, despite having no single-seater experience. She made the initial cut and went on to test an actual F3 car in Spain.

She was part of the NASCAR Drive for Diversity programme in 2015 and has competed in late models and local truck and stock car events since 2013.

(Image from http://speedsport.com)

Wednesday, 6 March 2019

Hailie Deegan



Hailie Deegan is the first female driver to win a race in the K&N Pro Series.

Hailie, born in 2001, only began racing seriously in 2017. She finished two CARS Super Late Model Tour events and was unspectacular, if reliable. Her career only really got started in 2018, when she signed up for a full season in the K&N Pro Series West, driving Bill McAnally’s Toyota. She was still only 16. In her early teens, she had been a successful off-road racer with junior titles to her name.

Her season began with a promising seventh place at Bakersfield, then it wasn’t long before the “firsts” began to stack up. She earned her first top-five finish two months later, coming in fourth at Orange Show and then fifth at Colorado. Her first pole position was at Las Vegas Motor Speedway Dirt Track; she finished second. However, her next race, at Meridian, yielded her first win, from fourth on the grid. Before the end of the season, she had racked up another pole at Bakersfield and two top-ten finishes.

As well as the Western Pro Series, she did some rounds of the Eastern championship. This was far less successful, beginning with a non-finish at Smyrna due to electrical problems and ending with crashes at Iowa and Gateway. In between, she managed a best finish of thirteenth at Memphis.

Away from championship races, she won a heat of the 2018 Star Nursery series at Las Vegas. A second attempt at the Star Nursery in February 2019 led to a fourth place, from pole.

2019 started with the first race of the Pro Series East championship, at New Smyrna. Again, Hailie had to retire her Toyota with electrical problems. Back in the West series at her favoured Vegas track, she earned another win after a last-lap dash to the front. She had started from eighth on the grid.

Hallie’s on-track nickname is “Dirt Princess”. Her father is motocross racer Brian Deegan.

(Image from https://hometracks.nascar.com)

Thursday, 28 February 2019

Rachele Somaschini


Rachele at the 2018 Monza Rally Show

Rachele Somaschini is a race and rally driver from Italy, who drives a Mini. She is the first driver with cystic fibrosis to take part in a World Championship rally.

She started competing in 2012, when she was 18, using a historic Alfa Romeo that belonged to her father. Her first events were hillclimbs.

In 2015, she began racing a BMW Mini, competing in the Italian Hillclimb championship.

In 2016 she took on the Mini Cooper Challenge on the track, and various Italian rallies. She won her class in the Mini Challenge and in the Italian hillclimb series. In rallies, she scored five class wins in Rally Show-type events, with a best overall finish of 22nd (out of 46), at the Motors Rally Show Pavia.

She teamed up with experienced co-driver Alessandra Benedetti in 2017, for more rally shows. Together they tried out a Peugeot 207 S2000 car as well as the Mini.

In 2018, she tackled the Sanremo Rally in a Peugeot 208 R2, finishing 30th. She also drove the Mini and a Citroen DS3 during the year, winning her class at the Adriatico and Due Valli events in the Citroen. It was in this car that she she scored a ninth place in the Tandalo-Vetture Rally, a single-stage hill-based event on gravel. Her first run in an R5 car was at the Monza Rally Show in December, where she was 70th overall in a Peugeot 208 T16..

Her first WRC rally was the 2018 Monte. She was classified 63rd overall in a Citroen DS3 R3T after a solid run, although only the top 56 finishers were permitted to take on the final stages.

She was invited to take part in the W Series all-female Formula 3 championship in 2019, but declined due to worries over her health and a desire to carry on with rallies.

Rachele uses her rallying as a way of raising awareness for cystic fibrosis, fronting a campaign called “Correre Per Un Respiro” (Racing For A Breath). She maintains her health and fitness through regular sessions with a specialist personal trainer, as well as the home- and hospital-based therapies used by many people with CF.

(Image from https://motorsport.motorionline.com)