In a sport that still sometimes parades pitlane popsies, New Zealand women competitors have had some outstanding success this year in top-level events.

Motorsport has always been biased towards men but Americans have found a new heroine in Danica Patrick, who competes against Scott Dixon and the rest of the Indy Racing League. She has yet to win a race at this level but she generates more publicity than all the men put together.

Formula One has never had a woman driver at the front of the pack, but world rally drivers in the 1980s found themselves chasing Frenchwoman Michele Mouton in her Audi Quattro.

She won four world championship rallies and led the New Zealand Rally in 1983 until engine failure put her out in the closing stages.

New Zealand has its world champion this year in Katherine Prumm, the 18-year-old from Bombay, south of Auckland, who won the women's World Motocross Cup after contests in Germany and Sweden.

South Africa-born Prumm began riding a motocross bike after the family emigrated and had her first taste of a track with jumps in 1998. She followed her national success with wins in Australia and Japan.

A couple of years ago, she said her aim was to be women's world champion before she turned 20. She is now a success in the United States on her Kawasaki.

Motocross is a very physical sport, and it is no surprise that Prumm has achieved her world success in a class reserved for women.

Less heralded is the effort of Nelson motorcycle racer Karel Pavich in winning the national 250GP road-racing title against a field of men.

Pavich, born in Hamilton, had her first motorcycle at 15. In 1988 she took up road racing, establishing her own team and towing her racing machine around the country behind her 900cc Yamaha road bike.

She raced successfully in the United States and Australia before returning home in 2004 and finishing fourth in the 250GP class. This year she became the first woman to win a solo New Zealand road-racing title.

The national rally championship has often had women competing against men, but few have been as successful as Emma Gilmour from Dunedin, who has her Subaru in third place after three rounds.

After this weekend's round in Hawkes Bay, Gilmour will go overseas for the German and Finnish rounds of the world championship. She earned the starts by winning an international scholarship for young drivers.

She will be competing against her fiance, Glenn Macneall, who is co-driver for Australian Chris Atkinson in the Subaru world championship team.

The leading co-driver in the New Zealand championship is Sara Randall, who guides defending champion Richard Mason from Masterton in another Subaru.

The diminutive 20-year-old had never been a co-driver until she took on the role alongside her fiance.

Sixteen-year-old Northlander Kirsty Nelson in May became the first woman to win a major rally in this country by taking the International Clubman's Rally of Rotorua.

With Michelle Brunt as co-driver, she had finished fourth in the Top Half round the day before and won the two-day competition.

Whakatane's Christina Orr has more than held her own with the boys as she has progressed through the single-seater classes.

Last season in the premier Toyota class she had her share of good results, including a second placing at Taupo.

And if all these women on the move need a chronicler, Sandie Myhre, author and doyenne of motoring writers, was named Motorsport Writer of the Year.