South African motorsport has a great history of producing great lady racers – Pat Sonnenschein will be remembered for her ’60s saloon car successes, Judy Witter followed her in the ’70s and Desiree Wilson remains the only woman ever to win a Formula 1 race. Not much has changed – today ladies Tasmin Pepper is dominant in the Volkswagen Challenge and then there are SA’s famous karting girls, of whom Fabienne Lanz has once again rewritten the history books.
Fabienne was in scintillating form at Saturday’s Rotax Max African Open races – a wildcard once a year karting free-for-all offering the winners in the top classes a drive in the Rotax Max World Finals in Italy in October and not only did reigning Northern Regions Lanz win one of those tickets in her regular Junior Max class, but the Hyde Park lass also taught the boys a lesson in the fastest DD2 gearbox class too.
“That is the best feeling in the world!” Fabienne beamed after her latest historic racing feat.
“The Senior Max races ran like clockwork,’ Fabienne explained. “Everything ran according to plan – my kart was handling superbly – I like a lot of grip which is great as Europe has a lot of it, but it started spitting with rain in the Final, which almost spoiled the moment, so I braked a bit earlier to make sure I don’t spin off but still maintained the gap I had opened earlier in the race.
“Then the rain then stopped and I was able keep a consistent pace, but two laps from the end I realised the potential of finally winning an African Open and getting that ticket, but I shut it out as something could always still go wrong. “So I drove each corner at a time and enjoyed it to the max at the same time and when the flag came out I knew we has done it at last.
Fabienne had a more difficult day in DD2. “It was a bit more challenging – my seat broke in the first heat and I was bouncing all over the show, but I ended up seventh, which was good. “We fitted another seat but the my front tyres had suffered and they were already done, so I struggled with understeer for the rest of the day.
“I have to admit that the Final seemed to go on forever because of the challenge of the front tyres, but both karts were fantastic throughout the weekend – I raced my FK in Senior Max and a Praga chassis in DD2. “So it’s a big thank you to my crew – we spent endless hours getting the kart set up perfect for me; to Punjabi for super fast engines and of course I can’t leave my dad out who has been there from day one.
“Now I need to work as hard as possible to give myself the best chance to compete for the DD2 world title at the Grand Final in Italy in October.”
Lanz has been in the headlines often of late, firstly by leading a world-first in motorsport ladies 1-2-3 at a Northern Regions round last year as she led Ivana Cetinich and Shannon Jackson to victory at Vereeniging, but the same trio also went one step further to take the Senior Max open 125cc Northern Regions overall championship 1-2-3 in 2015. Fabienne once again leads the 2016 Northern Regions Senior Max championship and she also won the final round of the national championship in that class a few weeks ago.
Saturday’s races saw both Lanz and Cetinich grabbing World Final drives, with a third lady driver Rachelle du Plessis likely to take a third ticket pending other drivers’ plans to race in Italy, but Fabienne Lanz’ unique double African Open victory is not just yet another impressive addition to her own CV, but it also adds to the growing annals of South Africa’s world-beading lady race drivers.