Rhianon Gelsomino is perhaps Australia’s most under-rated motorsport exports. While there’s (justifiable) excitement around the likes of Oscar Piastri and Scott McLaughlin, Gelsomino has become a multiple rally champion and worked with some of the biggest names in the business.
While some will remember her as successfully co-driving for her brother, Brendan Reeves, in the Australian scene, she has been based in the USA since 2012.
While she has competed around the world the highlight of her US career is claiming the 2021 American Rally Association, co-driving for extreme sports superstar, Travis Pastrana. Although this wasn’t her first US rally title, because she had already won the 2WD Open titles with both her brother and Ryan Millen.
For 2023 she has a new driver, Lia Block. The 16-year-old daughter of the late Ken Block is following in her father’s wheel tracks and is starring in the series, already winning two events in their Subaru BRZ.
“The USA has given me many opportunities I would need have got continuing to live in Australia,” Gelsomino told Torquecafe.
She added: “Working with Travis Pastrana has been like a dream come true. Travis is an incredible athlete and now one of my best mates. He and I have done 18 rallies together and won the championship in 2021. Travis and I are both incredibly competitive and hard workers, so it’s made it very enjoyable, working with someone with the same passion and desire to win.
“With Travis taking 2023 off rally, I was given the fantastic opportunity to work with 16-year-old Lia Block. Lia is an incredible young driver, just like her dad, Ken Block, was… Lia enjoys many forms of motorsport, so it will be interesting to see if she continues to rally or goes down the circuit racing route.”
And if winning all these rallies and titles isn’t enough, Gelsomino and her husband (Alex Gelsomino, Ken Block’s long-time co-driver) started Oz Rally Pro – a teaching program for rally co-drivers.
The pair have now trained more than 500 co-drivers, teaching them the skills it takes to help master the specialist skills a rally co-driver needs – writing accurate pace-notes, preparation techniques and procedures and video analysis.
“Before deciding to become a full time professional co-driver, I was a PE teacher in Ballarat in Victoria for six years,” she explains. “I loved teaching and it was something I was missing. So in 2013, I started coming up with ideas of a training business, where I could teach people in the different components of rally.”
Daily Driver: Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro
Gelsomino has been in the US since 2012 and is now a dual citizen, enjoying life in the rural region of Idaho.
“We are on 40 acres in the rolling mountains,” she says. “It’s very similar to NZ. The roads where we live are beautiful driving roads. Perfect for a casual Sunday drive. I love the freedoms that I have living in Idaho and the remoteness.”
Which is why her ideal daily driver these days is Toyota’s practical and capable 4Runner TRD Pro – similar to the Fortuner offered here.
“I think a daily driver is very dependent on where I am living at the time,” she explains. “I currently live on a narrow, gravel road, out in the mountains in Idaho, where snow in the winter is an interesting new concept for this Aussie. So 4WD is 100 per cent needed. My daily driver is a Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro. It’s solar octane in color and I love it. Very bright, but I am a colorful person. I have had many daily drivers, but this is now perfect for me in all ways. I love that it can do everything I need, where I live.”
Something special: Porsche 911 GT3 RS
While rally is her obvious passion, Gelsomino can appreciate the finer things when it comes to road-going sports cars. Which is why she’s chosen the German brand’s latest track-capable super coupe.
“A special car to me is a Porsche 911 GT3 RS,” she says. “They do 0-100kmph in 3sec and I think they are a beautiful car. I think the comfort level maybe won’t suit as an everyday driver, as this car is more like a race car. But as a Sunday car, this would be fun.”
Track toy: Audi Quattro S1
What else would a rally-loving enthusiast want? Especially one of the rally’s leading female proponents who was inspired by the ground-breaking achievements of the four-time WRC winning Michele Mouton.
“I loved watching Michele Mouton growing up and the Group B era. I think it would be incredible to own one of these classic cars and enjoy it on a track day,” Gelsomino says.
To find out more about Oz Rally Pro and its courses around the world, email: [email protected]