Friday, 24 September 2021

Jade Paveley


Jade Paveley is a British rally driver and motorsport broadcaster, often seen in a Subaru Impreza.

Although she is probably best known for her rallying, she began her career on the circuits. Her first year of competition was in 2010, aged seventeen. She was racing in Britcar, in a Mazda UK Mazda MX-5 run by Jota Motorsport. Her usual team-mate was David Hooper. The car was lacking in power compared to others in its class, so Jade was unable to challenge for outright or even class wins, but she became the youngest person to finish a 24-hour race at the season-ending Britcar 24 Hours at Silverstone. 

In 2011, her actual racing programme was quite limited, although she did try out some other roles within motor racing. She tested with the Lotus F1 team as a crew member, and also crewed for the Mazda team during the Valencia 6 Hours. In return, she drove for Mazda in the Snetterton 12 Hour race and was second overall, first in class. 

She also entered some MX-5 Cup races as a Mazda guest driver. As well as this, she undertook various pieces of media work, including captaining a driving squad for a TV show. 

This approach continued in 2012: she was based in Ireland for some Formula Ford races with the Murphy Prototypes team, mainly working as a development driver. She also drove a Mazda prototype at the Goodwood Festival of Speed and undertook some other testing. 

In 2013, she was linked with a Mini Challenge drive, which does not seem to have happened. She drove in some club events including the Birkett 6-Hour Relay, but it is here that she takes the rally path. Her first event was the Toyota Harlech Stages, driving a Ford Fiesta. She was 32nd overall. She also tried co-driving for her father Dave and for Steve Hopewell, but chose the driving seat.

In 2014, she switched full-time to rallying. She competed around the UK in a Subaru Impreza and a Mitsubishi Lancer, with a best finish of fifteenth, in the Glyn Memorial Stages. The Lancer belonged to Dave, who had previously competed in it since about 2007.

She continued to rally the Impreza in 2015, and was an impressive ninth in the Toyota Harlech Stages. 

In 2016, she did not enter as many events, but kept competing in her father’s Lancer. Despite another short season in 2017, she was sixth in the SMC Stages, in this car, a career-best result. 

She was back rallying an Impreza in 2018 Welsh Tarmac rallies and earned three top-twenty finishes, on her way to a Welsh junior title. The best of these was a 15th place in the Rali Cwm Gwendraeth. This improved to a twelfth place in the 2019 Gareth Hall Memorial Rally. 

Although she did relatively few competitive rallies in 2019, she was quite active in demonstration events for Jaguar. She was brought in to drive their one-off F Type rally special at events including the Goodwood Festival of Speed.

Opportunities for rallying were limited in 2020 due to coronavirus, but she did two events in two different cars, the Impreza and a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo III in which she was thirteenth in the Rali Adfer Coedwigoedd Cymru. This was her first gravel rally and her father navigated for her.

The enforced layoff took Jade in a new direction, however. She launched the Motorsport Now podcast and developed her broadcasting career. In 2021 she has reported on the World Rally Championship. She combined this with some outings in the Impreza, including a twelfth-place finish in the Gareth Hall Memorial Rally.

Another new challenge for her was joining the Excite Rally Raid team for the British Cross Country Championship. She and her two co-drivers won their class at the Parkwood rally raid. The team is preparing for a future Dakar entry. 

(Image copyright Jade Paveley)

Tuesday, 14 September 2021

Nathalie Maillet


Nathalie Maillet was a successful club racer from the 2000s onwards, as well as becoming the chief executive of the Spa-Francorchamps circuit.

She only earned her racing license aged 33, in 2004. When she was younger, she concentrated on her growing career as an architect. Despite growing up in a motorsport-oriented family, she never got to compete herself as a teenager and then her studies took over.

Success came fairly quickly. She was the 2006 Belgian VW Fun Cup champion and also won that year's Fun Cup 25 Hour race. 

She won a second Fun Cup 25 Hours with the Dubois Racing team in 2008. The same team, comprising Nathalie, Ronnie Dubois and Benoit de Keijser, entered some Belgian Touring Car rounds, with midfield results. 

The same team raced an Audi A4 silhouette in the BTCS in 2009 and 2010, and won at least one round. They won the Spa 12 Hours in 2009. In 2011, Nathalie used the same car in the BTCS for three races. 

In 2012, she contested the Euro RACECAR series, a European version of NASCAR. She was twelfth overall with one top-ten finish: eighth at Spa. 

RACECAR became the NASCAR Whelen Euroseries in 2013. Nathalie was twelfth overall again, with two eleventh places. In 2014, she drove a Toyota Camry in the Euroseries and had a best finish of sixth, achieved at the Nürburgring and Le Mans. She was twelfth in the Elite 2 category. 

She did not race in 2015, although she continued to be involved through management. This had begun with the Racing Club Partners team in the Euroseries. She was also the organiser of the American Festival Finals event.

In 2016, she was named as the new director of Spa-Francorchamps. 

Nathalie was from France but lived and worked in Belgium. She was murdered at home in August 2021 by her former husband Franz Dubois. She was 51.

(Image copyright Euro NASCAR)

Thursday, 9 September 2021

Caterina Baldoni


Caterina (second left) with her Aseptogyl team-mates

Caterina Baldoni is an Italian race and rally driver now more famous for her glamorous image than for her results.

She was part of one of the later incarnations of Team Aseptogyl in the late 1970s, when it was associated with Fiat, and with Italian drivers. It was Aseptogyl which brought her in to rallying.

In 1978, she is recorded as having taken part in the Quattro Regioni Rally in Italy, in a Fiat 128. Her navigator was Cristina Bertone. At the end of the year, she was part of a three-car Aseptogyl entry for the Rally Valle d’Aosta. Thirty-sixth placed Margarita Corio was the team’s leading finisher, with Caterina in 45th. Maurizia Baresi did not finish.

She remained with the team for another season in 1979. Luisa Zumelli partnered Caterina for that year’s Citta di Modena Rally and the San Marino Rally, which was their better event and gave them a 45th place.

After moving away from the declining Aseptogyl setup in 1980, she rallied a Jolly Club Autobianchi A112 in a one-make series in Italy. Her best result was 33rd in the Sanremo Rally.

Prior to her Aseptogyl adventures, she raced an Alpine R5 on the circuits, with limited success. Her circuit career overlapped with her time on the stages; she was part of an all-female Renault 5 team with Ivana Giustri and Nicoletta Misto. She does not appear to have done the whole season.

She had been interested in cars from a young age and performed some of her own mechanical work on her Fiat 500.

Her nickname was “The Pink Panther” due to her pink cars. It was occasionally hinted that she had some involvement with Gianni Agnelli of Fiat, which she never confirmed or denied.

Before and during her time as a rally driver, she worked as a model, which gained her considerable media attention. In the early 1980s she won the TV quiz show “Flash”, with her specialist subject being Enzo Ferrari. 

She later married and was known as Caterina Taglliatest.

Thursday, 2 September 2021

Red Bull Rookies


The 2009 Rookies

The Red Bull Rookies became a familiar sight in Malaysian endurance racing between 2008 and 2014. The first Female Driver Search was held in 2007 and the chosen drivers raced a Honda DC2 in the Merdeka Millennium Endurance race. The first official Rookies team was assembled in 2008 and consisted of Malaysian women selected at special events.

The driver search expanded to Singapore and Brunei in 2010. A few male drivers were assessed in 2011.

Each year, a couple of Rookies were retained as “Senior Rookies” to mentor the newcomers alongside non-driving manager Kenvin Low. 

Proton cars were used by later Rookies teams, who usually took part in the Sepang 1000km as well as the Merdeka race.

Like many driver search schemes, it had limited success in launching long-term careers for many of its entrants, although Leona Chin is still racing in 2021 and Siti Shahkirah Shaharul has competed quite extensively away from the team.

Some initial selection events were held in 2014, but no 2015 team was assembled and the project was quietly retired. 

Below is a list of Rookies recruits between 2007 and 2013. Each team competed the season following their selection. Male drivers’ names are in italics.

2007 (Red Bull Female Driver Search)

Philippa Yoong

Deanna Yusoff

Hiroko Nakamura


Puteri Ayu Jasmin

Leona Chin

Baizura Ruslan

Norlina Johor


Diana Chin

Nur Hayati Omar



Carmen Lim

Lee Hui Jing


Melline Jaini

Liana Radzak



Siti Shahkirah Shaharul

Mark Darwin


Amirah Mokhtar

Emmiline Ang


Fauziah Haziz



Melissa Huang


Siti Zirwatul



Geraldine Read


Illy Aquila Fateen Ismail

(Image from

Thursday, 26 August 2021

Robyn Kruger (Stiel)


Robyn Kruger (now known as Robyn Kriel) is a South African driver who usually races a Volkswagen Polo, often in one-make series.

She began karting at five, and moved into circuit racing at fifteen in the Super Hatch series, driving a Ford Fiesta. She won her class championship in the category in 2006 and 2007. 

The following year, she moved into the Engen Volkswagen Cup, a South African one-make championship. In her first year she was fifteenth overall. 

In 2009, driving a Polo, she improved her finishing position to tenth, then ninth in 2011. 

She achieved her first VW Cup podium position in 2012, at Zwartkops. Her final championship position was eleventh. 

In 2013, her career went international. She travelled to Buddh in India for a guest appearance in the VW Polo R Cup, in which she was second, behind her brother Jeffrey Kruger. She was also selected for the FIA Women in Motorsport Commission’s VW Scirocco-R Shootout, and got to the final stage, finishing fourth overall. This made up for crashing out of the first SA VW Cup round earlier in the year.

She raced less than previously in 2014, taking part in club Superhatch racing in the Polo. She scored at least one second place at Kyalami. As well as the Polo, she used a Ford Ka in Superhatch races in 2016.

Apart from occasionally racing a Lotus 7 in historic events, she only took part in the bigger 2018 endurance races in the Polo, which continued in 2019. She and Stiaan won their class in the Phakisa 200 in 2018. Robyn and Stiaan, who later married, raced together for the first time in 2017. They used his VW Polo for endurance races, starting with the Phakisa 200. It was about six months before the team raced again.

In 2020, Robyn raced in the VW Challenge again, finishing seventh in the final standings. This was combined with endurance racing, including a fourteenth place in the Phakisa 200 with Robbie Da Silva.

She switched to sportscars in 2021, racing a Lexus-engined Backdraft Cobra Roadster with Stiaan and Kosie Weyers.

Away from the track, Robyn works as a teacher.

(Image from

Saturday, 21 August 2021

Micki Vandervell (Chittenden)


Micki Vandervell, also known as Micki Chittenden, raced at national level in the UK in the 1970s. 

She was a member of the Vandervell racing family, the niece of legendary car designer Tony Vandervell and the cousin of racer Colin Vandervell. “Micki” was short for Michaela.

Her earliest adventures in motorsport were in autocross, driving a Mini in 1967. She gained some attention early on, not due to her family connections, but to finishing third in one of her first races in 1968 with a wrist in plaster. The event was at Sherwood Farm in Drayton and she won the ladies’ trophy.

By 1969, she was racing a Mini on track as well as on the dirt circuits of autocross, mainly in the south of England. At the end of the year, she took the Mini to Lydden Hill for the Grandstand Trophy, which was broadcast on BBC television. 

She continued to race the Mini in 1970, including at least one run in the Triplex Saloon Championship at Silverstone and an appearance at Brands Hatch. According to newspaper reports, she combined her racing with a job as a lab technician.

In 1971, she was part of "The Carmen Curls", an all-female racing team who competed in Formula F100. She raced a Royale sportscar alongside Gabriel Konig. The team was sponsored by Carmen hair products (“The House of Carmen”), and managed by Tina Lanfranchi. Among the four team officials was Roz Hanby, who later found fame as the face of British Airways. Neither of the team’s drivers completed the whole 20-round season and Micki was not as quick as Gabriel. She was thirteenth in the championship, which folded at the end of 1971.

She was an enthusiastic early member of the BWRDC, and competed in their women-only events. Her best result in one of these was a third place in the “Fast Girls Consul Challenge”, held at Brands Hatch in 1972 as a support to the Rothmans Formula 5000 championship. Gillian Fortescue-Thomas was the winner, ahead of Jenny Birrell and Micki, who finished ahead of her Carmen Curls team-mate Gabriel Konig. 

Much later, she took part in the Brands Hatch rounds of the 1976 Shellsport Ladies’ Escort series, scoring two seventh and one eleventh place.

For at least part of 1973, she raced an MG Midget in the STP Production Sports Car Championship.

She raced less often after her marriage to Mike Chittenden. Tiffany Chittenden and karter Tamsin Germain are her daughters.

(Image copyright Reading Evening Post)

Friday, 13 August 2021

Yana Pelenichenko


Yana Pelenichenko is one of Kazakhstan’s leading rally drivers. 

The Kazakh rally scene is quite small, and Yana is part of a team aiming to raise its profile. 

She started young, co-driving for her father Mark from the age of fourteen in 2012. Mark Pelenichenko only ever competed at club level due to health problems. Yana then started learning to drive and preparing herself for a career behind the wheel.

Her first rally as a driver, the Rally Stepniye Volki in 2012, resulted in an eighth place. Her car was a Citroen C2, which she has continued to drive since then. The car was bought in Moscow.

In 2013, she managed two fifth places, in the Sapsan and Vostochnyy Marafon rallies, and also travelled to Italy for her first European event, which was the Rally Ronde Prealpi Mastershow. She drove a Subaru Impreza and was 94th. 

She continued to be very competitive in her home country in 2014, still in the C2. She was sixth in the Sapsan and Saryagash Rallies. Unfortunately, she also had quite a few retirements, and was one of three drivers excluded from the Stepniye Volki event.

She does not appear to have competed in 2015, but she came back in 2016, again in a C2. She was eighth in the Rally Sapsan. A repeat of this car and rally pairing in 2017 resulted in a fourth place. 

In 2018, she earned two further fourth places in rallysprints in Kazakhstan. She did some rallysprint events in 2019, still in the C2. The first of these gave her a runner-up spot. 

She does not appear to have competed since then.

(Image from