Sunday, 10 December 2017

Jessica Hawkins

Jessica (centre) on the winner's podium in 2017

Jessica Hawkins was second in the John Cooper Mini Challenge in 2017. She was a multiple race-winner in her first really successful season, finally displaying the talent she showed in a kart.

As a junior, she won several karting championships, and featured strongly in some major ones.

In the face of a series of difficult sponsorship situations, she got onto the grid for the 2014 Renault Clio Cup. This was in part thanks to winning a testing shootout organised by the BWRDC, and was helped by some further experience in the car in the 2013 Autumn Trophy. In the end, she only seems to have driven in two rounds, at Brands Hatch, but she was third and fourth. Her team-mate was Jodie Hemming, recently returned to competitive action. Jodie was acting as her driver coach too.

Later in the season, she raced in the British Formula Ford Championship, at Silverstone, scoring two tenths, and an eleventh place. She was team-mate to Michael O’Brien, a fellow youngster.

In 2015, she chose the single-seater route, and entered the MSA Formula series. This was a transitional formula between Formula Ford and Formula 4, as it would become in 2016. It was a difficult season, and she just missed out on a top-ten spot at Rockingham and Snetterton. She was 23rd overall, after competing for just over half a season. She was part of a strong field, including Lando Norris, Dan Ticktum and Enaam Ahmed.

During the winter season, she raced in the MRF Challenge in the Middle East. She managed two fifteenth places at Bahrain. These were her only two races in the championship.

Part-way through 2016, she joined Team HARD Racing for the VW Racing Cup, and was ninth and eighth at Brands Hatch, driving a Golf. She did enter the third race at Brands but did not finish. This experience put her back on her original track of saloon racing, which would pay off.

Jessica’s first race in the 2017 Mini Challenge ended in a win from pole. She followed that up with another win from the front. She aimed for a clean sweep of the Snetterton meeting, but had to settle for third in the third race. She repeated this exactly at Silverstone: two wins, two poles, then a third. She won one more race at Rockingham and earned a further six podium places from eleven races. She could have won the championship if her early momentum had lasted, but she was still a strong second in what was her first full season of competition.

Her sights are now set on a career in tin-tops and she has completed the first year of a three-year plan, which will take her into the BTCC.

(Image from

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Sarah Moore

Sarah with the John Cooper Mini

Sarah Moore made history in 2009 by winning the Ginetta Junior championship outright. She was the under-17 series’s first female champion. She has since gone on to race saloons and sportscars in the UK and Europe.

She completed her first season of the Ginetta Junior series in 2008. She managed to finish in the top ten six times, with a best result of sixth. This followed a part-season in 2007, when she was fourteen. As well as full-size cars, Sarah also raced karts.

Her championship-winning season included five wins, making her the first female driver to secure victory in a TOCA-sanctioned race. She was awarded a BRDC Rising Star at the end of the year.

She returned to the series in 2010 for a final year, but did not manage another win. She was seventh overall. This year, she moved from her family’s team, Tockwith Motorsport, to Eurotech.

In 2011, after turning seventeen, she switched to single-seaters and raced in the Intersteps Formula, supported by Tockwith again. Her best finish was fourth, achieved twice at Silverstone, and she was sixth overall. Later, she described her foray into single-seaters as “difficult”.

She also did four races in the Smart 4Two championship, scoring two podium finishes. This was a new championship for the UK, based on the unlikely Brabus-prepared Smart micro-car.

She continued in the 4Two series in 2012, and scored a second at Spa and a two thirds at Snetterton. Her team-mate was her younger brother, David. They have another brother, Nigel, and all three pair up at various times.

A career hiatus followed. For a season, Sarah concentrated on her work as a driver coach, and only competed in karting. Even then, it was to help develop her student drivers.

In 2014, she was ready to race again. Alongside her brother Nigel, she travelled to Germany, to compete in the VLN, held on the legendary Nordschleife of the Nürburgring. She was racing in the Toyota GT86 Cup class. They won the class twice.

The pair aimed to return to the VLN in 2015, but it was not to be. Sarah kept her hand in by racing in kart enduros. She was the European ProKart Endurance Champion, with her team-mate Matthew Greenwood.

After another year spent mostly on the sidelines, Tockwith Motorsport entered Sarah into six rounds of the LMP3 Cup. She was driving a championship-standard Nissan-engined Ligier. If she had been able to complete the season, she would have been in line for a good position: she and co-driver Richard Dean were third at Donington and second at Spa.

As well as sampling prototype racing, Sarah continued to gain experience in different saloons. She entered five rounds of the UK Mini Challenge, all at Brands Hatch. She drove in both the Cooper Pro and JCW classes. Her best finish was fourth in the JCW car, in August.

Minis were a theme during her 2017 season. The intention had been for her to run a full season of the Mighty Mini championship. This was restricted to four rounds, but she won two of them.

The other cars she raced were a Smart ForFour, which she used for some rounds of the Britcar championship, and a Ginetta G50. The latter car she used in the BWRDC’s Ladies’ Handicap in November. She was the runaway winner on scratch, lapping almost all of the field twice. However, she was given a very low handicap, and was tenth in the final results.

Her future plans are in the sportscar direction, with Le Mans a career goal.

(Image copyright Marc Waller)

Thursday, 30 November 2017

Manuela Gostner

Manuela Gostner raced in the 2017 European GT4 Championship, driving a Maserati. She is best known for driving a Ferrari. Unusually, she was almost 30 when she started competing.

She is the elder sister of Corinna Gostner, who races in the Coppa Shell Ferrari Challenge with Manuela and their father, Thomas. Their brother, David, also races. It was he who encouraged Manuela to take the wheel of his Ferrari at a test day in 2014.

She started racing only a few months later, at Brno. Her sister Corinna made her debut at the same time. Corinna finished just above Manuela in the first race, in tenth, and they swapped places for the second. Manuela returned for the season finale in Abu Dhabi. She was 20th in the championship.

In 2015, she enjoyed a bigger racing programme and contested the entire Coppa Shell Ferrari Challenge. Her car was a Ferrari 458 run by Ineco-MP Racing, who ran her in her first races. She started slowly but soon learned the car. By the third round at Mugello, she was into the top ten. In September, she broke into the top five for the first time, at Imola, and repeated this at Valencia. She was twelfth in the championship.

In 2016, she raced both with and against Corinna: in the Ferrari Challenge, she was not quite as competitive, earning two top tens, the best of these being a ninth at Monza. She finished 21st overall. She and her sister shared the Ferrari in two Italian GT Championship rounds at Mugello, and were eighth and sixth in the GT Cup class. They were racing against their brother and father in another MP Racing Ferrari.

She made a move into the European GT4 championship in 2017. Her Maserati Gran Turismo  MC was run by Villorba Corse. She was third in the Am category, just in front of her Villorba team-mates, Romy Dall’Antonia and Giuseppe Fascicola. She won her class at Brands Hatch and Zandvoort and was third at the Red Bull Ring.

The Coppa Shell had not been forgotten. Back with the Ineco-MP team, she did most of the European Ferrari Challenge, and had a best finish of sixth at Paul Ricard. She was also sixth in the World Final at Mugello.

Her GT4 success has earned her a first FIA driver classification of Bronze.

Away from the circuits, she competed internationally at both indoor and beach volleyball before having her two daughters.

(Image from

Saturday, 25 November 2017

Ashley Freiberg

Ashley (centre) on the Sebring podium

Ashley Freiberg has competed in the prestigious Daytona 24 Hours and Sebring 12 Hour races. She is a racewinner in the IMSA GT Challenge series and the Continental Sportscar Challenge.

Ashley began her senior racing career in 2008, after several successful seasons in karting.
Initially, she progressed through the Skip Barber racing school ranks, and in 2009, she was the first female winner of a Skip Barber National Series event, in New Jersey.

Initially she specialised in single-seaters. She did her first Formula Star Mazda races in 2009, before winning another National Series race in a Formula Mazda, and then winning the 2010 Skip Barber Summer Series outright. She added to her win tally with another Summer Series race victory in 2011.

In 2012, she competed in Formula Star Mazda full-time, and was eleventh in the championship. Her best finish was sixth, at Baltimore.

After this, she switched to sportscar racing, and contested the 2013 IMSA GT Challenge, in a Porsche 997. In her first season, she won once at Watkins Glen, a first for a female driver, and was second twice, at the Glen and Monterey. She was ninth in the championship, after missing the last round.

In 2014, she made history again by winning the Continental Sportscar Challenge race at Daytona, supporting the 24 Hours, in a BMW M3 Coupe. Funding was an issue, but she did secure enough sponsorship to race again and took part in another four Challenge races. Her best finish was seventh, at Laguna Seca.

In 2015, she was a BMW North America Scholarship driver, and raced an M3 in the Continental Sportscar Challenge again. She won one race at Road Atlanta. This was one of three podium finishes: the others were a second at Watkins Glen and a third at Road America. Her co-driver was Trent Hindman.

In 2016, she competed in the Daytona 24 Hours and Sebring 12 Hours for Turner Motorsport, in a BMW M6. She was second in class at Sebring, and 23rd overall. Later in the season, she drove for the team again at Road Atlanta, and was ninth in the GTD class. In between, she tried out a prototype for Starworks Motorsport and contested another three rounds of the Weathertech Sportscar Championship. The car was an LMP2 and she secured two class finishes, at Long Beach and Laguna Seca. She was a temporary team-mate to class winners, Alexander Popow and Renger van der Zande.

She stuck with sportscars for 2017 and entered the Lamborghini Super Trofeo, contesting the Pro class with DAC Motorsport. This resulted in five podium finishes from eight races, the best of these being second at Watkins Glen, her lucky track. She was third overall, just behind her earlier team-mate, Trent Hindman. She had taken a chance with her entry and was not sure how her season would go. Early on, she described her plans as “going race by race”.

She is also making a name for herself in cyclocross.

(Image from

Saturday, 18 November 2017

Female Drivers in TC2000 in Colombia

Miriam Gil and Maria Paula Martinez

Colombia has a thriving saloon racing scene. Its premier touring car championship is TC2000 (Turismo Carretera). This is a multi-class championship with two sections for novice drivers (Academy), plus a Junior class and a main TC2000 class. Women drivers have been a feature of TC2000 for many seasons now. Most are from Colombia, but the championship also attracts drivers from the surrounding countries.

Maria Isabel Bonilla – Colombian driver who races touring cars in her domestic championship. Between 2012 and 2013, she took part in the Colombian TC (Turismo Carretera) Academy, in an attempt to get onto the professional racing circuit. Her cars were a SEAT and a Mazda. She was most successful in the SEAT in 2012, and managed one podium place. In 2016, after a break, she raced a Chevrolet in the TC2000 series in Colombia, in the Junior class. She was the highest-placed driver in her region and was sixteenth overall in the championship.

Maria Isabel Cajiao - raced in the TC2000 touring car series in Colombia. She competed in 2005 and 2006, driving a Honda in 2006 at least. Both years, she was seventh in the championship, and the leading female driver. After 2006, she was linked to a drive in a “PanAm” Grand Prix series, but this did not happen. Little other information about Maria Isabel’s other racing activities, or biographical data, appears to exist.

Jennifer Cañon - has raced touring cars in Colombia since 2014. Her first year in cars ended in a second place in the Academy B Class of Colombia’s TC2000, driving a Citroen. She repeated this in the the more competitive A class in 2015. A second season in the A class in 2016 was not as successful, and she was 22nd after missing the first two rounds. She did another incomplete season in the Citroen in 2017, and was 36th in the championship. She has also done some endurance races, including the 6 Hours of Bogota.

Miriam Gil - Venezuelan driver who races in TC2000 in Colombia. In 2017, she formed an all-female team with Maria Paula Martinez, for karting and TC2000. She raced a Lada in the second-string TC2000 series in 2017. Most of Miriam’s experience has been in karting, but she first raced in touring cars in 2014. She drove a Chevrolet in the Academy B class of Colombian TC2000 and was promoted to the A class before the end of the season, although she could not make the top-three shootout.   

Mary (Maribel) Gonzalez - finished eighth in the 2017 Colombian TC2000 Academy B class, driving a Fiat 147. She is another driver whose consistent approach is her strong point; her best finish seems to have been a fifth place. She shared the car with Edwin Carrillo, who used it in the Academy A class. 2017 appears to have been her first season in TC2000.

Maria Paula Martinez – Colombian touring car driver who started racing cars as a junior. 2013 seems to have been her debut season. In 2015, she won the TC2000 Academy development series outright. Her car was a Chevrolet Swift. Prior to this, in 2014, she was one of the top five Academy drivers. Her first year included a win in a Ladies’ race in TC2000. In 2016, she raced the Chevrolet in the Junior class of TC2000 Colombia, and was 39th overall after a strong, but short, part-season.

Maria Camila Medina - drove in the Colombian TC2000 touring car series between 2005 and 2007. She began with a part-season in 2005, before  two more substantial efforts at the championship. Her best overall finish was 30th, in 2006. Details of her cars are not widely recorded. At the end of 2007, she was linked to a drive in European Formula 3000, but this does not appear to have happened. In 2009, she is listed as a driver for the Petrobras 6 Hours of Bogota race, driving a Van Dieman. She did a couple of Latam Formula 2000 races in Miami in 2014, and was fifth and sixth, representing Colombia.

Paola Oliveros - raced in TC2000 in Colombia in 2017, in the A class. Her car was a Suzuki Swift GTi and she was part of a female team with Miriam Gil and Maria Paula Martinez. Her final championship position was 16th in Class A. She has been racing since at least 2014, when she took part in a TC2000 ladies’ race in aid of breast cancer charities. Her car was a Chevrolet.

Tatiana Perez - raced an El Mako JAC in Colombian TC2000 in 2017. She was competing in the Academy B class. Her season started well enough, but she dropped out part-way through. This left her in 41st place in the drivers’ standings. 2017 was her second attempt at TC2000, having had a similar year in 2016, when she entered the first round, but did not finish due to electrical problems.

Laura Rodriguez - finished joint second in the Colombian TC2000 Academy B class in 2017. She was driving a Mazda with her father, Javier. The duo’s consistent finishes helped them, although they have not quite managed to challenge for podiums. This was Laura’s second season in the series, after a couple of starts in 2016 in a Fiat.

Manuela Solorzano - raced a Peugeot in the Colombian TC2000 championship in 2017. She was competing in the TC A class, and was ninth overall. This was her second season in this championship and class; she was twelfth in 2016, in a similar car. This seems to have been her first season in a car. Previously, she was active in karting, and competed internationally between 2011 and 2015.

(Image from

Monday, 13 November 2017

Angelique Germann

Angelique and her team in 2016

Angelique Germann is a German driver who was racing in national-level Formula 3 in Europe. She was one of the front-runners in the CEZ series in 2017, after winning the German title in 2016.

Angelique’s father, Andreas, raced in Formula Three across Europe and continues to do so, therefore it was natural that she gravitated towards this style of competition. She began racing single-seaters in a serious way in 2014. That year, she raced in the mostly Eastern European-based Remus F3 Cup. Her car was a Dallara 305 Opel, run by her father’s racing team. Her best finishes were two ninth places, at Poznan, and another two top-tens at Salzburg.

She continued to race a Formula 3 car in 2015, entering two championships: the Central European Zone (CEZ) F3 series and the Remus F3 Cup, formerly Austrian F3. She used a Dallara F311 for both. Her F3 Cup season took in just over half of the championship. Her best result was a ninth place at Brno, at the end of the season. She was less successful in her part-season in the CEZ series, in which her best result was 17th at Brno. She did have the small consolation of finishing in front of her father, who was 18th.

As well as F3, both Angelique and Andreas had at least a guest appearance in the Italian F2 championship. Angelique was driving a Dallara F308 run by Franz Wöss Racing.

In 2016, she made something of a breakthrough in the sport. She entered the Central European Zone F3 championship and the Remus F3 Cup and performed well in both series. A highlight was winning a Cup race at Lausitz and finishing fifth in the championship. She was sixth in the CEZ championship, with a best finish of fifth. Her breakthrough race was the first CEZ round at Most, where she was seventh. Her fifth followed shortly afterwards. She was fifth in the Remus F3 Cup.

The German F3 Cup ran parallel with these two series. Despite a slightly shaky start at the Red Bull Ring, she won seven of the next ten races and took the championship comfortably. Her nearest rival was her father.

Her fourth season in Formula 3 was spent moving between the Remus Cup, the CEZ series and the German F3 Cup. Driving for Franz Wöss Racing again, she scored one win, at Hockenheim, and four second places, behind her team-mate Philipp Regensberger. Regensberger won the German championship and eleven out of the fourteen races.

She did not do quite as well in the European-based Remus series, although she held her own. Her best finish was a fourth place at Spa, and she was seventh overall. The CEZ championship seems to have run alongside the European one, as Angelique’s scores seem to be very similar.

Previously, she raced an NSU TT in historic events, from at least 2012, sometimes with her father. Away from motorsport, she is a keen horsewoman.

(Image from

Thursday, 9 November 2017

Marisa Panagopulo

Marisa in 2012

Marisa Panagopulo is an Argentine driver, active since the 1990s.

Marisa’s early forays into motorsport were in karting and midget racing. She did race karts extensively from the age of about fourteen, sometimes with her brother, Carlos. It took a while for her to be able to move up to cars; she was still karting as a senior in 1986, when she was 18.

She seems to have started her senior career in 1994, in a Nissan Sentra, which she raced in the Copa Damas. This was a one-make series for female drivers, which was shown on television. She won the 1994 championship.

In 1995, she was part of Formula Hyundai Femenina, another touring car championship for female drivers. Her second year in cars gave her another winner’s trophy.

Her first appearance in the leading TC series was the 2 Hours of Buenos Aires in 1996. She shared a Ford Falcon with José Larroudé and finished 16th. This was the first of three races that she did in the Falcon, and her best finish. In a different car, a TTE prototype supported by Citroen, she made her debut in the Mil Milhas at Interlagos. Her team-mates were Delfina Frers and Suzane Carvalho. They do not seem to have finished.

That year, she also raced a Citroen AX and a Volkswagen Gol in one-make series. She appears to have won at least one race in the AX.

After that, she took a break from motor racing, partly due to finances. During her time away, she became a mother.

She returned to karting for many years, in order to satisfy her competitive urges.

Marisa made a circuit comeback in 2012. With Delfina Frers, Lorena Blanco and Carolina Eiras, she was part of an all-female team for the Fiat Linea Cup. She was ninth in the Rosario race.

Since then, she has returned to competitive karting, and made a guest appearance in the ASM Championship in 2014. She was driving a Fiat Uno. She also dabbles in historic racing.

(Image from