Speedqueens is undergoing its yearly update and clean-up, so there won't be any new posts for a while.
See you in the New Year!
Saturday, 6 December 2014
Liz in 1964, in Minsk
Elizabeth Jones, born Rosemary Jones, in Newbridge, Wales, raced a Mini and other cars in international saloon races in the 1960s. She always raced under her own family name, and was often referred to as “Liz” in race reports.
She graduated from the Cooper Racing School in 1960, as one of its six most promising students. She was thirty years old, and was probably one of the oldest in the group. Using a car run by the School, she entered some Formula Junior races that year, and finished eighth in a race at Silverstone.
In 1961, she moved on to GT racing, in her own Austin-Healey 3000. She raced at Snetterton twice that year, and was second and fourth in class. In September, she took part in the Autosport 3 Hours, also held at Snetterton. Her finishing position has been lost, but she was racing against Porsches and Jaguar D-Types. According to Christabel Carlisle, a rival of the time, she took part in at least one Ladies’ Handicap race at Brands Hatch that year.
In 1962, she stuck with BMC-made cars, but exchanged the powerful and brutish Healey for the first of her series of Minis. She entered some rounds of the British Saloon Car Championship, starting at Silverstone. Her Mini was a Cooper model, prepared by the Downton Engineering team, an established tuning company. She was fourth in class at Silverstone, then twelfth overall at Aintree, in the British Grand Prix support race.
She was thirteenth overall, and second in class in the 1962 Brands Hatch 6 Hours in 1962, alongside Alan Mann and Tony Hegbourne in a Ford Anglia. This was a double drive, as she also recorded a DNF in her own Mini, which she was sharing with rally driver, Pauline Mayman.
1963 started in a similar vein. She was fourth in class in her first BSCC race, also at Silverstone, also in a Mini. Her second appearance was at Crystal Palace, for the Small Car Trophy, and she was seventh overall. Unusually, four female drivers started this race, including Christabel Carlisle, whose career took her in most of the same directions as Liz. At Silverstone, for the Grand Prix support race, she joined up with Alexander Engineering, another preparation and tuning firm, driving one of their Mini Coopers. Unfortunately, the car developed mechanical trouble, and Liz had to retire. Her second outing in the Alexander Mini, at Brands Hatch, ended in a 16th place.
In the middle of the season, she took part in the Brands Hatch Six Hours, driving for Alexander Engineering, in the Mini. Her team-mate was the Finnish rally champion, Timo Mäkinen. They were 18th overall. Early on, Liz led her class, but bad weather and hard-charging other drivers dropped them to second, behind John Aley and Rauno Aaltonen.
Liz also accepted another one-off drive in the Tour de France, in a Mini, but a works BMC Mini this time. She was sharing the car with Pauline Mayman. Christabel Carlisle was slated to be part of the team, but did not compete in the end. The engine of the Mini did not last until the end.
For 1964, her partnership with the Alexander Engineering team continued. In the BSCC, it was something of an underwhelming year, with some non-finishes. Once again, her best race was the Small Car Trophy at Crystal Palace. Liz was fifth, in a race completely dominated by Mini Coopers, like her own. Otherwise, her strongest finish was at Brands Hatch, in the Guards Trophy meeting. She was fourteenth overall. Throughout the season, a rivalry between her and Anita Taylor, who also drove a Mini, was stirred up a little by the press. It was true that Liz and Anita were sometimes competing directly for places, but other drivers, including Anita’s brother, Trevor Taylor, were often involved.
Alexander Engineering also provided a Mini for Liz for the Brands Hatch 6 Hours, which she shared with the American driver, Denise McCluggage. They retired, due to an accident. This was not a race for the Mini; several of them fell by the wayside, or underachieved, in this wet race.
In July, Liz seems to have accepted a drive with the British Vita team for the Spa 24 Hours. She shared a Mini Cooper with Harry Ratcliffe, but engine failure on lap seven put paid to any chance of success.
She was also a rally co-driver, who sat beside several different drivers in the RAC and Monte Carlo rallies. The cars were BMC models. She began in 1962, in major rallies anyway, sitting alongside Daphne Freeman in the RAC Rally. The car was a Mini. In 1964, in another Mini, she accompanied Shelagh Aldersmith for the Monte Carlo Rally. Shelagh, competing alongside the BMC works drivers in a private car, joined the team in starting from Minsk, in Belarus, which was then behind the Iron Curtain. They did not finish. After her circuit career ended, Liz continued in rallying, and took the wheel herself in the 1965 Monte Carlo Rally. Her co-driver in her Mini was Patricia Ozanne.
Her motorsport career seems to end here. Some time later, Liz moved to America, and became a well-known breeder of Mastiffs, under her married name of Degerdon. In 1989, she was charged with animal cruelty by the US authorities, and remains a controversial figure in the Mastiff breeding world.
She returned to the UK, where she continued to live until her death in 2010, at the age of 70.
(This post is heavily indebted to the research of Radnorian.)
(Image from http://minicoopers68.blogspot.co.uk/p/1964-rallye-monte-carlo.html)
Thursday, 13 November 2014
Nicole Sol, left, with Yvette Fontaine, in 2013
Nicole Sol raced in Europe, mainly in Belgium, in the late 1960s. She was a contemporary and rival of Yvette Fontaine and Christine Beckers, although she is not as well-known as either of them.
Nicole got her start in motorsport in quite an orthodox way. She enrolled in the Volant Shell driving school in 1965, learning the craft of single-seater racing. It was a surprise to some that she was ranked seventh out of the 105 aspiring racers, especially as she was the only woman. Her first race was the Benelux Cup at Zandvoort in 1965. Her car was a Formula Three Merlyn Mk V. She was second overall.
Despite her obvious knack for single-seaters, she ended up racing in saloons in 1966. Her first race in the Belgian Touring Car Championship was the Coupe Terlaemen at Zolder. She was fourth overall, in a Ford Lotus Cortina. This was her only race in the series. In a different car, an Alfa Romeo 1300 TI, supported by Alfa Romeo Benelux, she was 19th in the Spa 24 Hours, with Yvette Fontaine.
In 1967, she made a proper attack on the Belgian Touring Car Championship. Driving an Alfa Romeo 1600 GTV, she won the Group One class of the first round, the Grand National at Zolder. In a GTA, in Group Two, she was second in class in the Belgian Cup. Back in the GTV for the Coupes de Spa, she was 16th overall. For the Chimay 500km, she teamed up with Yvette Fontaine in a GTA, run by Lucien Bianchi’s team, and was second , behind the GTA of Serge Trosch and the ailing GTA of Daniel Dezy, whom they overtook late in the race. The last round was at Zolder, and she switched to a Ford Lotus Cortina, in Group Two. This gave her fifth in the qualifying heat, and ninth in the final. She was fourth in the championship.
Using the Cortina, she also took part in the Spa 24 Hours, with Tom Sol (her then-husband). They did not finish, due to a broken con-rod. In the Alfa, she drove in one round of the European Touring Car Cup, at Zolder, and was ninth.
In 1968, Nicole was absent from the Belgian championship results lists, but she was still racing, as an Alfa Romeo Benelux driver. She and Christine Beckers drove a 1750 Berlina in the Spa 24 Hours, and made the finish, in 23rd place. Nicole also drove in hillclimbs, and won at least one, the Marche climb, in an Alfa Romeo TZ prototype. She was fifth in the Bomerée event.
This year, Nicole took part in the TAP Rally of Portugal, with Brussels as her starting point. It is unclear whether or not she finished, or even which car she drove (it was very likely an Alfa). Her co-driver was Nadine Kerkhove.
In 1969, she returned to the Belgian Touring Car Championship. She was in a Lotus Cortina again, supported by Ford of Belgium. At around this time, Ford were using female racing drivers to promote their cars. In the UK Anita Taylor was one such driver. In common with Nicole, who had worked as a model, she was attractive, and this increased her publicity value. Of course, Nicole (and Anita) also had a couple of seasons of competitive racing under her belt, and some wins.
In the first Belgian Cup race, she was sixth in Group One, as team-mate to Jacky Ickx, in an Escort. After missing the Zolder Grand Prix, she was 19th overall in the Coupes de Spa, and 17th at Chimay. The Grand National was run as a multi-heat and final event this year; Nicole won her heat, but was only 35th in the overall classification. She then missed the Benelux Cup, and was 21st in the North Sea Trophy. The second Belgian Cup race gave her a fourth in class.
Away from the circuits, she took part in the Rally of Portugal again, starting at Brussels, but this time, as a navigator. The driver was Gilbert Staepelaere, and the car was a Ford Taunus 20M. They did not finish.
After this, she stepped down from professional motorsport, although she has remained involved to the present day, in club and historic events and promotional drives for various marques. In 1983, she came out of retirement for the Monte Carlo Rally, driving an Alfa Romeo Alfasud TI. This was as part of the last incarnation of Team Aseptogyl, and she and Marie-Francoise Placq were running as Team Belgium. Nicole did not finish.
Most recently, she drove a Bentley Flying Spur in the Star Rally, an all-star, televised Belgian event, in October 2014.
She also appeared as a character in the long-running motorsport comic Michel Vaillant, particularly in one story arc, involving a group of female touring car drivers. She also makes at least one appearance as a rally co-driver, with Gilbert Staepelaere.
(Image from www.allansporttelevie.be)
Wednesday, 5 November 2014
Laia Sanz and Ingrid Rossell in 2014
The Andros Trophy is the best-known ice-racing series, in Europe at least, but it is not the only one. There is a long tradition of ice-racing in Russia, and in recent years, a women’s championship has been held once a year. The G Series, held in Andorra, is another yearly championship, which attracts several female participants, as well as many MotoGP riders.
Here are short profiles of some non-Andros ice racers.
Katerina (Ekaterina?) Intke - competes in ice racing in Russia. She won the women’s championship at Cherepovetz Stadium in 2014, driving a VAZ 2108, despite only finishing second in the Superfinal. The same year, she was thirteenth in the main Cherepovetz race, and ninth in the Russian National class. Information about Katerina is hard to find, due to language barriers, but Intke may be a married name, and it is possible that she has been part of the ice-racing scene since 2011.
Mariona Julià Rich - Spanish driver who races in the G Series in Andorra. In 2013, she raced a VW Golf in the G Series 2 category, and was 19th overall, scoring points in each round. She shared the car with Joaquin Rodrigo. In 2014, she returned to G Series 2, and did somewhat better, with a best finish of fourth place. She was eleventh in the championship, still in the Golf. Mariona was part of the Rabbit Team, with Ingrid Rossell and others. Away from ice racing, she may well also compete in motorcycle sport of some kind.
Ingrid Rossell - Andorran driver who mainly competes in ice racing. She began in 2013, at the age of 17, in the G Series, Class Two. Ingrid managed three third places, giving her seventh in the championship. Her car was a Volkswagen Golf. In 2014, she returned to the G Series, in an updated Golf. Although she improved her best finish to second, and scored three more third places, the championship was more competitive this year, and she was ninth. A race she had against Laia Sanz, another female driver, brought her some wider attention. Laia Sanz was the winner. In 2014, she returned to the G Series, in a VW Golf. She was driving for the same team. In addition to ice racing, Ingrid has also competed in rally raids. In 2013, she took part in the Panda Raid in Morocco, driving a Fiat Panda with Manuel Saa.
Polina Samylkina - active in Russian ice racing since at least 2011, when she was joint third in the Cherepovetz women’s championship, in a VAZ 2106. In 2012, she took part in the Vologda round of the Russian Cup of ice racing, but it is not clear whether or not she finished. In 2014, she was third in the women’s championship. As well as competing, she is one of the organisers of the ice racing meeting at Cherepovetz.
(Image from www.soymotero.net)
Sunday, 2 November 2014
Zoe and team-mate, Declan Jones, in 2013
Zoe Wenham is one of Britain’s most promising sportscar racers, and has the awards and results to prove it.
She raced karts from the age of nine, then took advantage of the 2000s boom in under-17 touring car series by entering the SaxMax championship, in a regulation Citroen Saxo. At the time, she was still only fourteen. Her first season was 2008, and she was 16th overall, as one of the youngest drivers on the grid. Her most promising result was a fifth place at Snetterton.
In 2009, she moved over from her family team, to Ferguson Motorsport. This resulted in a more successful year in SaxMax, with a ninth place overall at the end of it.
In 2010, she only competed in the first two rounds of SaxMax, as she decided to graduate to senior competition, still aged only sixteen. She took part in the 2010 VW Racing Cup, driving a Polo GTi. As she was not yet 17, she was the youngest person ever to race in the series. At the end of the season, she was 21st, with a best finish of eleventh.
In 2011, she continued in the VW Cup, in a Golf this time. More power, and experience, again helped her up the championship table, and she finished eighth overall, after her first podium place.
The following year, she made the switch to sportscar racing, and it proved to be a good call. She raced a Ginetta G50 in the British GT Championship in 2012, for Century Motorsport. In contrast to previous debut seasons in a new car, she was on the pace almost immediately, with a fourth and a third at Oulton Park. Further podium positions, at Snetterton, Rockingham, the Nürburgring and Donington, three of these being second places, were enough to give her second in the championship. She did not finish out of the top five all season. Her team-mates were Mike Simpson and Dominic Evans. In recognition of her excellent debut season, she was awarded the BWRDC’s Gold Star.
She returned to the championship in 2013, in the Century Ginetta, with expectations of her high. She did not disappoint, and this year, she had her first wins, two of them, at Oulton Park, and another two podiums, at Snetterton and Rockingham. Despite a somewhat less consistent season, partly due to reliability and technical problems, she was still in the running for the GT4 title, until she had to miss the Zandvoort round, for undisclosed reasons. Although she returned for the finale at Donington in a different Ginetta, in which she finished seventh, it was not enough to rescue her title campaign, and she was fifth. Her team-mate, Declan Jones, was second. This was the end of her time with the Century team.
Later on, she was selected as the British entrant into the FIA Women's Scirocco-R cup shootout, with a view to racing in Europe in 2014. She was not chosen; the award went to the French driver, Lucile Cypriano.
After being left without a GT drive for 2014, Zoe was determined to race something. She ended up in the Volkswagen Fun Cup, an endurance series for VW Beetles, driving alongside her younger brother, Guy. They were part of Team O’Br, driving as the “Young Guns”, with other young drivers. Zoe’s endurance experience paid off, and they were second in their first race, at Oulton Park. It was an up-and-down season, with some setbacks, like their fourteenth place in the third race, but they were strong enough to be in a secure runner-up position after the final race of the season.
Mid-season, she was even invited back to Century Motorsports for the Britcar race at Snetterton, in the Ginetta once more. She was seventh and eighth, driving with Stephen Fresle. They teamed up again at Silverstone, and managed two class wins. They were second overall in Class 3.
Zoe’s plans for 2015 have not yet been announced.
(Image from www.centurymotorsport.com)
Thursday, 30 October 2014
Michele Bumgarner is a Filipino driver, although her father is American. She started racing at ten, in karts, having learnt to drive at seven. Her father owned a kart track at Subic, so she had plenty of opportunity. To begin with, she combined karting with competitive junior tennis, but karting, and senior motorsport, interested her more. Soon, she was competing all over southeast Asia, and also in Europe. Almost unbelievably, when she was fourteen, she did her first car races, in Formula Toyota in the Philippines. Even more unbelievably, she was third in the championship.
A return to karting beckoned in 2005, but she was still looking for her big chance in full-size motorsport. She travelled to the Bahrain for the Formula BMW Scholarship, which she won, although it did not translate into an actual drive.
In 2006, she moved more fully into circuit racing, at the age of 17. Instead of taking her first steps in Formula Toyota or Formula Renault, she jumped straight into Formula Three. She drove for Team Goddard in Formula 3 Asia, in the Promotion class. The series was run from the Philippines. Her first three rounds were somewhat of an ordeal, with stalling, spins and a crash, but she learnt quickly, and by the end of the season, had climbed to third in the Promotion class, for older cars. She was 12th overall.
Her next big step was a move to America in 2007, in order to further her single-seater ambitions. She enrolled at the Jim Russell Racing School, and even competed in two of its Formula Russell races, scoring a podium finish in one.
She put together a deal for Formula Mazda for 2008. Her season consisted of the first five rounds, and she had a best finish of 15th, at Portland. She was one of four women racing in the series that year, and was the third fastest of them. At the same time, her younger brother, Mark Bumgarner, was also competed in the States, in the Skip Barber Series. He has since left motorsport. In September, she tested an Indy Lights car at Putnam Raceway.
Later in the 2008 season, her Indy Lights testing appeared to have paid off; she was selected for the NexGen team’s driver development scheme and was set to compete in Indy Lights in 2009, with Walker Racing, as part of a five-year development deal. However, the deal fell through, and she returned to karting.
During this time, she was also in talks with the Newman Watts team about a Formula Atlantic drive, but this too came to nothing, as the team’s backer, actor Paul Newman, died.
In 2008 and 2009, she won the Rock Island Grand Prix, a major street kart race. Although she had to take a lengthy hiatus from circuit racing, not competing at all in 2010 or 2012, she used it as constructively as she could, and was very competitive in a kart.
She made a small return to Formula Mazda in 2013, entering two races and finishing one, in ninth. This performance, at Houston, earned her an award for the most places made up during a race. This was a more positive end to the year than its start, which had involved Michele travelling to Charlotte Raceway for a “NASCAR RaceEX World Circuit” event for Filipino drivers, which turned out to be a scam.
2014 saw her full-time return to motorsport, in Formula Mazda, after a long series of false starts. She was racing for World Speed Motorsports. Her main sponsor was Mazda Philippines, and she was now part of the Mazda Road to Indy development programme. Her schedule took in eleven of the fifteen races, and her best result was eleventh, at Houston. Usually, she finished just outside the top ten. Her finishing record was good, with only one retirement all year, and she was fifteenth in the championship.
In the near future, Michele plans to progress up the Indycar ladder, with the aim of competing in the Indy Racing League in 2016.
(Image from www.leblogauto.com)
Thursday, 23 October 2014
Yvette in a Ford promotional shot, 1969
Yvette was the winner of the 1969 Belgian Saloon Car Championship. She was the first woman to win a Belgian national championship.
She actually began her motorsport career as a rally driver, in 1964. Her first car was an Austin Mini, like many other drivers of her era, both male and female. She did not get a particularly auspicious start to her career, as she went over the time limit for both of the events she entered that year, which were the Tour of Belgium and the 12 Heures d’Ixelles. The Tour of Belgium was her first-ever rally. The 18-year-old Yvette had only a vague idea of how a rally ran, and was not even used to driving at the 60 kph average speed expected.
In 1965, she exchanged the Mini for a Saab 93 Sport. Although her first rally in it, the Routes Blanches, ended in another OTL, she soon worked out what was what, and began posting some decent results. She won three Ladies’ Trophies, in the Circuit des Ardennes, Ostend 12 Hours and 12 Heures d’Ixelles, and was class runner-up in the Picardie Rally, in France. For at least part of the season, she was navigated by Anita Elford, who was Belgian, but married to Porsche driver, Vic.
1966 was the year her career really took off. She drove an Alfa Romeo Super 1600, and not just in rallies. As a teenager, she had often visited the Zolder circuit whilst on holiday with her parents, and now, she was racing there for real. In March, she entered the Grand National race at the circuit, and was 34th in the final race, tenth in class. She was then eleventh in her race at the Belgian Cup meeting, also at Zolder, and seventh in class at the Coupes de Spa. Later in the season, she travelled to Germany for the Marathon de la Route, at the Nürburgring, where she shared her Alfa with Hannelore Werner. They did not finish. In a different Alfa, a 1300, she won her class in the Spa 24 Hours. She and Nicole Sol were 19th overall, supported by Alfa Romeo Benelux.
On the rally side, she had a mixed season, with her fair share of retirements. She crashed out of the Tulip Rally, and missed out in the Circuit des Ardennes, by missing a time control. However, she almost made up for it with her first top-ten finish, a ninth on the Routes du Nord event. She did it again with a tenth place on the Rallye des Nivelles, near Brussels. She was co-driven, at different times, by “Gaby Poison” and “Puce” (“Flea”), who were both occasional racers on the Belgian scene.
Another new thing for Yvette this year was hillclimbs. Still in her works 1600, she tackled several Belgian and French speed events, and was Group One winner in four of them.
She continued as a multi-purpose Alfa driver in 1967. Her rally record continued to be a little hit-and-miss, with more than one incidence of missing time controls, or making mistakes with the route. This was tempered by some very creditable performances, including a seventh place in the Le Touquet rally, in France. Her car was a GTV 1600.
In the Belgian Touring Car Championship, she was picking up speed. In the Grand National races at Zolder, she was eighth in Group 2, driving a 1600 GTA, despite its rear axle being broken. At the Belgian Cup meeting, she scored her first win, in the Class D+E race, as well as finishing third in the C+D race. She was fourth in the Coupes de Spa, just ahead of Lucien Bianchi, and then second in the Chimay 500km (Grand Prix des Frontières), driving for Bianchi’s team with her rival and “fellow” Alfa racer, Nicole Sol. The second Belgian Cup meeting gave her a fourth place, after finishing third in her heat. She was second in the championship.
Across the border, in Germany, she was part of an Alfa Romeo team for the 84-hour Marathon de la Route, driving a 1600 GTA with rally driver, Jean-Marie Jacquemin, and J-M Heilman. They did not finish, due to an accident. Back at Zolder, she was third in the Division 2 race of the Limbourg Grand Prix, driving a 1600 GTA again. Her second ETCC outing came at Spa, for the 24 hour race, where she drove for Lucien Bianchi’s team again, with Jean-Marie Lagae. They did not finish, due to a con-rod failure.
Again, the Alfa team entered her into lots of hillclimbs, in which she was increasingly successful, normally driving a GTA. It was in this car that she was second in the Maquisard climb and third in the D’Houyet event. This was enough for third in the Belgian championship. As well as hillclimbs, she took part in a speed record attempt over a kilometre, in both a GTA and 1600 GTV. She broke a class record in the former, and was the best in class in the latter.
In 1968, her co-operation with Alfa Romeo ended, and she was promptly signed up by Ford of Belgium, who recognised her speed and versatility. They were interested in the promotional value of a female driver, but as previous winners of both the Manufacturers’ and Drivers’ titles, and only supported the most competitive. In the first race of the championship, the Belgian Cup meeting at Zolder, Yvette was second in the 1300cc race, in a Ford Escort GT 1300, run by the British Broadspeed team.
Her next race was at Chimay, over 300km, but she did not finish, due to an engine problem. Her car this time was a Twin Cam Escort, run by the works Ford team, which was still in development, and somewhat unreliable. She was third in the North Sea Trophy, and fifth in her Zolder heat, although she did not finish the main race.
She also raced in the European Touring Car Championship, driving the Broadspeed Escort at the Limbourg Grand Prix and in the Nürburgring round, sharing the car with Brian Robinson. Both ended in non-finishes, due to a water leak and a broken accelerator respectively.
As well as Belgian events, she travelled to Denmark and the UK for Ford-sponsored races, taking the works Escort to seventh at the Jyllandsring, and the Broadspeed car to sixth, at Mallory Park. She was also eighth in the Coupe du Salon, at Montlhéry.
Hillclimbing was still very much on the agenda, and she won her first climb this season, the La Roche event. She was driving a Twin Cam, although she also drove a Lotus Cortina and a Mustang during the season. Remarkably, she was also twelfth overall, with a class win, in the same climb, driving a Formula Ford. Ford Belgium experimented with putting Yvette in a single-seater in speed events and circuit races, and she even managed an eighth place in the Limbourg Formula Ford race.
Ford retained her services in 1969, and decided to allow her to concentrate mostly on saloon racing. Rallying, never her strongest discipline, was restricted to a single co-driver outing with Gilbert Stapelaere, on the Routes du Nord. She did a few hillclimbs, but achieved no more wins.
This year, she made a bigger assault on the ETCC, in the revitalised Escort Twin Cam. It began haltingly, with DNFs at Monza and Vienna, but picked up when she returned later in the season, with a sixth in the Brands Hatch 6 Hours, with Freddy Semoulin (Alain Dex). She was then eleventh in the Spa 24 Hours, with John Fitzpatrick, and won the Division 2 race at Zandvoort.
The Belgian championship also began slowly. During the Belgian Cup meeting, Yvette was moved into a Welcker Cortina, to make way for Jacky Ickx, and could only finish twelfth. Back in her usual car, she won the 1300cc race at the Zolder Grand Prix, and was fourth at Spa and third at Chimay. The Zolder Grand National and the North Sea Trophy gave her fourth, and the Coupes Benelux at Zandvoort, another win. She was second in the second Belgian Cup meeting. This, combined with her results in the ETCC, was enough to give her the Belgian Saloon Car Championship, her first championship and a first for a female driver. She had defeated Jean-Pierre Gaban, in his Porsche 911, in the last race.
Still with Ford, she returned to the Belgian series to defend her championship in 1970. She started where she left off, with a win in the Zolder Grand National race. After a DNF at the Belgian Cup races, she won again at the Zolder Grand Prix. A broken accelerator put her out at Spa, but she was sixth at Chimay, and third in the Coupes Benelux. A practice accident stopped her from competing in the final round, at Zolder. She retained her class championship, quite narrowly.
The ETCC was more problematic. Ford of Belgium, despite Chevron sponsorship, did not have the resources to run her in the full series. They entered her into the Silverstone and Zandvoort rounds, in a Twin Cam, but she did not finish the main race in either. Ford of Germany picked her up for some races, usually partnering Hannelore Werner, but she did not always make the start, due to car problems and insufficient preparation. Driving the fierce, 2300cc Capri, she did not finish at Monza, Salzburg or the Nürburgring, and was pulled out of the Spa 24 Hours line-up.
She also did one Formula Three race, at Chimay, but went out early on following a crash. Among her opponents were James Hunt and David Purley. This was her last single-seater outing.
Ford continued to employ Yvette in 1971. Her schedule was exclusively saloon races, driving an Escort BDA. Her Belgian season began well, with a win in the Group 2 Final of the North Sea Trophy. She was then second in the Zolder Grand Prix, but only 29th in the Coupes de Spa, after not finishing a heat. Her car’s engine failed at Chimay, but she was second in the Belgian Cup. The Benelux Cup gave her a third place. She was fifth at Nivelles, and could not retain her championship, although she was awarded the ladies’ championship as a consolation.
In the European championship, she got some support again from Ford of Germany, although in an Escort, rather than one of the now-dominant Capris. She was fourth at the Nürburgring, with Gerry Birrell. Driving for the BP-sponsored British Vita team, she did not finish the Spa 24 Hours. A works drive in the Zandvoort Trophy did not help either, as she lost fuel pressure. The Paul Ricard double six-hour race also ended in retirement.
A late high point of 1971 was Yvette’s part in some Ford speed records, set over a kilometre on a Belgian motorway. As part of a team including Jackie Stewart, she set new records in an Escort, Capri, and, most famously, a Transit Van with a Formula One engine.
Her 1972 season was mostly based around the Belgian championship. She drove for the Ford BP team once more, and started the season in a 3-litre Capri, in which she was fourth and second at Zolder, but did not finish at Nivelles, after the throttle linkage failed. For the Coupes de Spa, she drove an Escort, but was only seventh. She was fourth at Chimay and Nivelles. A win in the last round, at Zolder, pushed her up to fourth in the championship.
The Spa 24 Hours was disappointing again: Yvette shared an Escort RS 1600 with Gillian Fortescue-Thomas, but the head gasket blew. Her only other outing was a trip to England, where she was fifth in a Ford Consul race at Brands Hatch.
The Ford team was struggling a little by 1973, and Yvette drove a private car this year in some rounds of the Belgian championship. She was fifth in the EEG Trophy, at Zolder, and a battling third at the Nivelles 24 Hours meeting. She was also eighth in the Zolder Grand Prix race. Her Spa 24 Hours ended in another blown engine.
For the first part of 1974, Yvette continued in the Belgian championship, with a 1300cc Escort. She did two races at Zolder, finishing the second in third place. Later, after missing one round, she got a last Ford works drive, in a Capri. She was seventh in one Zolder race, and fourth in the EEG Trophy. They also backed her for the Spa 24 Hours, driving a Capri with Claude Borgoignie, but the car’s head gasket went.
Yvette's Capri at Zolder, 1974
Through Ford’s links with Chevron, Yvette’s career received a welcome new challenge, in the shape of sportscar racing. She raced a Ford-engine Chevron B21 in the Spa 1000km, with her erstwhile rival, and replacement at Alfa Romeo, Christine Beckers. They did not finish, but this proved valuable practice for Le Mans, the following month. Driving as the “Ecurie Seiko Sato”, Yvette and Christine, with Marie Laurent, were 17th overall, and won the 2000cc class.
Despite her continuing good performances in the face of decreasing support, Ford dispensed with Yvette’s services at the end of the 1974 season. The fuel crisis had hit them hard, and sponsorship was getting harder to come by. Her modest Le Mans success was recognised, and she was invited to be part of Anny-Charlotte Verney’s Porsche 911 Carrera RS team. They were eleventh overall and second in class. The third driver was Corinne Tarnaud.
The Belgian touring car championship itself had gone into decline, and now only had three rounds. The European series was plagued by problems. Yvette had been in talks with BMW about a drive, but it did not materialise. She was picked up by Atlas Racing for a couple of rounds of the Trophée l’Avenir, driving a BMW 3.0 CSi. Her team-mate was Noel van Assche, known as “Pedro”. They were eleventh in the EEG Trophy, but second in the Spa 24 Hours. This was Yvette’s best-ever finish in that race.
After this, Yvette called time on her professional racing career, at the age of 29. Although she had won many races and achieved considerable success, there was now less money in motorsport than ever, and she had never been paid anything near the amounts her male team-mates had. In 1976, she accepted a couple of drives in a Chevrolet Camaro in the ETCC, but these were her last big races. She shared Reine Wisell’s car with him and Stuart Graham for the Spa 24 Hours, but did not finish. In a different Camaro, for “Team Zip-Up”, she was 20th, but not classified, in the Tourist Trophy at Silverstone. Her team-mates were Rune Tobiasson and Rudy Host.
The end of her professional career was not the end of her involvement with motorsport. Yvette continued, and continues, to compete, on and off, in club rallies, hillclimbs and races, and historic events. She has also organised track days for female drivers.
(Images from www.forum-auto.com and www.touringcarrracing.net (Paul Kooyman).