The countries of Southeast Asia - Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines particularly - have their fair share of female racers on their tracks. Some, such as Keiko Ihara, Tomiko Yoshikawa and Takeda Kanami, have travelled extensively and raced in Europe, making them much more visible, but many more race at home. Leona Chin now has her own post, as do Anna Inotsume, Anne Wong, Kumi Sato, Junko Mihara, Siti Shahkirah Shaharul and Naomi Ran Zhang. Thai saloon racers can be found here and Korean drivers here.
Red Bull's female driver search, based in Malaysia, has added to this tally recently, with its rotating squad of female touring car drivers, some of whom have gone on to further motorsport careers. The 2009 "Red Bull Rookies" are pictured here.
Even more female drivers are active in drifting, which is currently outside the scope of this site.
Single-seater drivers from this region now have their own post.
Below are some short profiles.
Pia Boren - Filipino driver who is most famous for drifting. She has competed in endurance racing in her home country, including a run in a Ford Focus at the 2007 Petron-SVI 4 Hours event, held at Subic. She was seventh overall, sharing the car with two other drivers. She was fourth in the one-make Ford Lynx Cup in 2003 and fourth in Formula Toyota the following year, alongside more Lynx racing. She now works as a sports journalist and previously wrote for Top Gear Magazine’s Philippines edition.
Kanthicha Chimsiri - Thai driver who races in the Asia Pacific Ferrari Challenge, using a Ferrari 488. She has completed two seasons in the championship, in 2017 and 2018. In 2018, she was ninth in the Am class, with a best result of sixth, achieved twice at Albert Park and Hampton Downs. She was twelfth in the 2017 series, in what appears to be her first year of competition. In 2018, she may also have raced a Ferrari in the Thai Super Series. She was definitely back in the Asian Ferrari Challenge in 2019, finishing ninth in the cahmpionship and 21st in the World Finals. Away from the track, she competes in beauty pageants.
Betty Chen - Taiwanese driver who competed in the China GT Championship in 2019. She drove a BMW M6 in the GT3 class and earned a best finish of fourth at Qingdao and Sepang. Her final championship position was ninth. Her team-mate for most of the season was Jody Fannin. 2019 was only her second year of competition and her first time in a GT3 car. She had only taken part in two previous races before China GT with Fist-Team AAI.
Cherry Cheung - Hong Kong driver who made her major-race debut in Malaysian TCR in 2019. She drove a Volkswagen Golf and picked up two ninth places. 2019 is only her second year of racing, having began in the Chinese Racing Cup in 2018. She won her class in the 2018 888km of Shanghai, driving a Toyota GT86 as part of a four-driver team. Her Teamwork team has some plans to compete in the UK.
Emily Chow - races a Proton Saga in Malaysia. She took part in the 2019 Saga Cup one-make series, driving for the Millennium Motorsports team. She first raced in the Cup in 2018, after more than ten years of driving a Lotus Elise in hillclimbs, track days and autocross. She races in the Casual category of the Saga Cup, although she is not one of the championship’s front-runners.
Gabie Desales - races in the Flatout Racing Series in the Philippines. She did her first season of circuit racing in 2018 and came away with a ladies’ title, driving a Honda Civic. In December, she was part of a four-woman team for the Petron 8 Hour race at Clark International Speedway. Her team-mates were Kathy Villar, Dimple Napat and Aira Medrano. This was her second major endurance race after a run in a 12-hour event in the summer. Prior to circuit racing, she won several titles in slaloms and was a seven-time ladies’ champion.
Gretchen Ho - races a Toyota Vios in one-make series in the Philippines. She is better known as a TV presenter and she initially began racing in celebrity events. She is a regular in the Celebrity class of the Vios Cup, having first competed in it in 2017. She was the championship’s best female driver in her first year and by 2019, was posting top-three finishes. She has hinted that 2019 was her last season.
Azrina Jane (Abdullah) - Malaysian driver who competed in drifting and autocross for several years before switching to circuit racing. She took part in the Advanced class of the Proton Saga Cup in 2019, driving for Millennium Motorsports Asia. This ran as part of the Malaysian Speed Festival, where she was a regular face in the drift and Solo sections. This was at least her second season in the Proton, although results are proving hard to find. Azrina is also the president of the Malaysian women’s car club and gives precision driving instruction to its female members.
Hiroko Komatsu - races in the Super Taikyu series in her native Japan, driving a Mazda Roadster for the all-female Love Drive team. She has been active in Super Taikyu since 2015, when she was selected for a women’s motorsport initiative run by Mazda. She has taken part in several events for them, as well as a run in at least one round of the 2016 Inter Proto one-make championship. She drove a Mazda Roadster for Love Drive Racing in 2019 and 2020, racing in Super Taikyu for them and the Nihon Automotive College team.
Faye Kusairi - Malaysian driver who has been active in motorsport since 2012 and circuit racing since 2016. She first competed in the Malaysian Speed Festival and was fourth in the 1600 Race Car series, driving a Honda Jazz. Her best finish was third. That year, she also took part in the Sepang 1000km and was part of a four-driver winning team in a Proton Prima. The following year, she formed a female team with Sharina Ramlle for the MSF series. She came back to racing in the MSF in 2019 after a one-year hiatus. Away from the track, she is a TV and film actress.
Angeline Lee - crossed over to circuit racing in April 2019 after having made her name as a sim racer. She entered the Malaysia Championship Series after winning a sim-racing shootout at the end of 2018. Her car is a Ford Fiesta, shared with German racer Sophia Menzenbach. The pair was 24th in both of their races at Sepang. Angeline has previously raced karts and also worked as a race organiser in Malaysia.
Joan Lee - Malaysian driver who races a Toyota and a Proton. She took part in the Sepang 1000km race in 2018, sharing a Toyota Vios with Stephen Wan and Goh Eng Peng. They were 18th overall. In 2019, she is competing in the MSF Super Turismo series in a Proton Saga, racing the Saga Cup class. She is part of the Seng Motorsports team. Previously, she worked as a promotional model in the motorsport industry.
Elysse Menorca - Filipino racer who became the first woman accepted into the Nissan GT Academy in 2016. Like the other Academy finalists, she started as a sim racer but crossed over into real-life motorsport, starting with Time Attack and drift-style events in a Toyota Corolla. In 2018, she took part in the Toyota Vios Cup. She contested the Promotional class and was a regular top-five finisher. She continued to race in the Promotional class in 2019 and was third overall.
Michie Mimoto - Japanese driver who has competed in her homeland and Thailand. She is mainly known for her performances in drifting but has been taking part in circuit racing in Thailand since 2016. Her Thai exploits have mainly been in the Toyota Vios Lady Cup, where she is a racewinner, although she has added Toyota Hilux Pickup racing to her schedule since 2018, which runs on the same bill. She was fourth in one of her first pickup races at the Chiang circuit in 2018, and has scored several top-ten finishes since then, in 2018 and 2019. She also competed in the Lady Cup that ran alongside the Thailand Super Turbo series, winning one race. Her car was her Vios.
Amirah Mokhtar - Singaporean driver who got into motorsport through the Red Bull Rookies talent search. She was one of the 2011 Rookies, alongside Siti Shahkirah. She was part of a team for the Merdeka Millennium endurance race that year and drove for the RB21 team in the 2011 Sepang 1000km. Her team-mates were Siti Shahkirah and Mark Darwin and their car was a Proton Satria. They did not finish the Sepang race. Amirah does not seem to have raced since then.
Dimple Napat - races in the Toyota Vios Trophy in the Philippines. She has been active in the series since 2015, when she entered the Promotional class at the age of 22. By the end of the 2018 Vios season, she was one of its leading drivers, winning twice at Clark International Speedway in the Promotional class. At the end of 2018, she was also part of an all-female team for the 8 Hours of the Philippines race, driving a Honda Civic with Kathy Villar, Gabie Desales and Aira Medrano. They did not finish. In 2019, she competed in Sodi World Series karting.
Nurul Husna Nasharuddin - Malaysian driver who normally races at Sepang, often alongside her father Nasharuddin Aziz. She has been racing since at least 2012, when she began her career in historics, driving a Honda Civic. She remained in the Asia Classic Car Challenge and continued to make guest appearances until recently. In 2019, she raced a Proton Saga in a one-make cup. Throughout her career, she has often raced Proton cars, including another Saga in 2018 which she shared with her father for the MSF Turismo championship. She has competed in the Sepang 1000km several times, and finished ninth in the 2014 edition, sharing a Proton Satria with Foo Yung Cheh and Yee Kok Jun.
Miki Onaga - races a VITA sportscar in Japan, in both the all-female Kyojo Cup and in the mixed Inter Proto series for which that car is eligible. She was second in the 2019 Kyojo Cup, having joined for the second round and won straight away. This was the start of a championship battle with Hinako Muramatsu, which lasted until the final round - Muramatsu won. She entered the Kyojo Cup again in 2020 and was second overall, as well as competing in the Super Taikyu Championship in a Toyota GT86, driving for a Toyota-supported jnior team. Miki has previously raced in a one-make series for the Toyota Vitz in Japan in 2015, as well as several years of karting.
Sharina Ramlle - races a Proton Saga in her native Malaysia. She competes in the Casual class of the Proton Saga Cup, which is part of the Malaysian Speed Festival bill. As well as this, she sometimes races a Honda Jazz in the Malaysian Super Production championship, alongside her husband. According to Malaysian media, she has been racing since 2011 and is supported by “Pursuit of Dreams”, a driver programme run by MSF and Petronas. Sharina is also one of the members of Malaysia’s first women’s motorsport organisation and has an all-female team to work on her car. Her nickname is “Racing Mama”. In 2020, she raced in the three-round Malaysian Endurance series, driving a Honda Jazz.
Rally Marina Sa – Indonesian driver who currently races sports and touring cars. In 2013, she took part in the Sepang rounds of the Lamborghini Super Trofeo Asia, with Mika Kagashima of Japan. They were thirteenth and fourteenth in the two races. In 2014, she raced in the Audi Race Indonesia one-make series, and won at least one race. She was third in the championship. Previously, she competed on and off in single-seaters from the age of fourteen, in 1994, when she won a national championship. In 1996, she won the Asian Formula championship at Gudang Garam. After that, she did quite a lot of drag racing in southeast Asia, as well as working as a TV presenter for MotoGP and NASCAR.
Yumiko Sekizaki - Japanese driver who began racing in 2015 after being selected for a women’s motorsport programme run by Mazda. She was the fastest driver of the final twelve selected. Since then, she has been part of the Love Drive team competing in the Super Taikyu series, driving a Mazda Roadster with other Japanese female racers. She was part of the team for the 2018 Fuji 24 Hours. In 2019, she switched to rallying in a Toyota Vitz and competed in the Toyota Gazoo Racing Rally Challenge.
Shasha Shafie - Malaysian driver who competes in the Malaysian Championship Series. She normally shares a Suzuki Swift with Shafiq Samsudin. They have been racing together since 2018 and compete in the SP2 class for production cars, where they are midfielders, although they did score some class podiums in 2018. The car was put up for sale after the second round of the 2019 championship due to problems. As a teenager, Shasha was a karter, but she did not start her senior career until she was in her 30s.
Rio Shimono - Japanese driver who made her debut in the 2020 Japanese TCR series, although this was delayed by the coronavirus outbreak. She drove a Honda Civic run by Drago Corse when the championship restarted and won the Bronze class outright. She was second in the main championship with one race win at Suzuka. Rio previously raced in the Super FJ Series in Japan, an entry-level championship based at the Okuyama circuit. She scored two wins during the 2019 season.
Nanami Tsukamoto - Japanese-Brazilian driver famous in her home country for her pink cars and glamorous image. She competes in both racing and rallying, as well as drifting. In 2018, she travelled to Europe to race in the VLN, driving a Toyota GT86 for Ring Racing and earning a second and fifth in class. She had previously raced a GT86 in a one-make series in Japan between 2013 and 2017, alongside electric car racing in the JEVRA EV Trophy and a 2015 season in the Japanese Carrera Cup, where she was eleventh overall. In 2017, she won two rounds of an Audi A1 one-make series and in 2018 she added to her win tally with three victories in the Z Expert Trophy, driving a Nissan Fairlady. In rallies, she has competed in the 2018 and 2019 Toyota Gazoo Challenge in a GT86. She competed again in the Fairlady in 2020 and also won a team championship for electric karts as part of an all-woman squad.
Kathy Villar - won the GT150 championship of the Philippines Grand Touring championship, driving a Honda Civic. She was also Rookie of the Year. Late in 2018, she was part of an all-female team for the 8 Hours of the Philippines race, alongside Dimple Napat, Aira Medrano and Gabie Desales. They ran as high as third in class in their Honda Civic until it caught fire. Kathy previously competed in Time Attack events.
(Boey) Chai Pao Weei - races in the Proton Saga Cup in Malaysia. Her car is a Proton Iswara. She has been racing Protons in single-make championships since at least 2016. She won a Saga Novice Cup race at the 2017 Malaysian Speed Festival, sharing the car with Choo Yoong Chon. At the end of 2018, she raced a Suzuki Swift in the Sepang 1000km alongside Shasha Shafie and Nurul Husna Nasharuddin. In 2019, she competed in the Saga Cup Casual section of the MSF Super Turismo championship, in the Iswara.