Iron Dames take second consecutive top five finish at Le Mans

Iron Dames - Photo by Melissa Warren

For their sixth consecutive appearance at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and their first one in the new highly competitive LMGT3 category. At the wheel of their Lamborghini Huracán LMGT3 Evo 2, the trio of Sarah Bovy, Rahel Frey and Michelle Gatting were the only females among the 186 drivers entered to take up the challenge of the ultimate endurance race.

On Thursday, Michelle Gatting took the car for qualifying, narrowly missing out on making Hyperpole by placing in ninth and the team began the race from there.

Rahel Frey, stepping in for Doriane Pin, took the start of the race. The #85 car took time to get up to speed, but a great strategy call during an early rain shower and determined driving from Rahel took the car to the top three after the first few hours before Sarah Bovy took to the track. She was running very well in third when she was hit by the #4 Porsche Penske car.

The team had lost around a minute due to the collision, but was still in the mix when Sarah handed back to Michelle. The team was able to run in the top eight as night time descended, including through a long Safety Car period, before Rahel took the car back as rain fell. The car, however, was not fast at this point of the race.

The rain fell very heavily at around 4am CET, and this necessitated a very long Safety Car period. This allowed the team to use up the rest of Sarah’s drive time before handing back to Michelle for the restart from the top eight.

In the morning hours, a combination of great strategy and great driving from Michelle and later Rahel put the #85 in contention for a podium finish, sitting in third as the afternoon approached.

As the hours ticked down, the Iron Dames valiantly pushed on through further rain showers and Safety Cars but slipped down the order slightly. Regardless, they came home a very commendable fifth on the debut for the Huracán at this 24-hour race.

Sarah Bovy said: “I think that since we arrived this week, I’ve been saying that if we finished in the top five, we’d be happy. We know that this is a new category and we’ve been building up little by little, but we knew that the competition here would be very fast. The team did a great job in terms of strategy, car preparation and reliability. Hats off to the team for that. We’ve done nothing but climb up the field and I don’t have the disappointment of thinking that we’ve missed out on something. This year was the best we could have hoped for, and we’ll have to hopefully come back and try to finish on the podium.” By Melissa Warren

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