The 88th edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, which were to be disputed in mid-June and had to be postponed due to the pandemic, are being disputed this weekend with the attraction of having two all-female teams on a grid of 60 cars, something that hasn’t happened since the 1970s.
The team Richard Mille Racing presents the first female crew in the LMP2 category in the history of Le Mans. It will be with the Colombian Tatiana Calderon, the german Sophia Flörsch and the dutch Beitske visser, who will take turns piloting the 50th Oreca 07 Gibson.
The second women’s team will be the one formed by the Swiss Rahel frey, the danish Michelle Gatting and the italian Manuela Gostner, who will share the controls of the Ferrari 488 GTE Evo number 85 of the amateur category of GT (LM GTE Am).
Beitske Visser She replaces the British Katherine Legge in the formation, who had to give up her place due to an accident that forced her to interrupt her progression.
Tatiana Calderon she is “very excited and grateful for this incredible opportunity.” “Doing Le Mans is a dream for all drivers and to be able to do it representing Richard Mille and the FIA Commission for Women in Motor Sport is a great honor,” adds the Colombian on the FIA website.
“We have been preparing in the ELMS (European Le Mans Series), but at Le Mans it will be the first time that the three of us have raced together, and it will be very intense, a great challenge. Three rookie drivers in a very condensed program without the usual test previous … “, he adds.
“I think we are all beginning to understand how drag racing works, how to face it as a team while sharing a car. The only sad part is that we won’t have the full Le Mans experience without the fans being there, but I hope they can cheer us on from home. We are ready for the challenge, “says Tatiana Calderón.
Among the 22 entries in the LM GTE Am class are the ‘Iron Ladies’, a unique project conceived and supported by Deborah Mayer, a passionate French driver and promoter of women in motorsport.
He Ferrari 488 GTE Evo number 85 will be in the hands of Rahel Frey, Michelle Gatting and Manuela Gostner, a trio who have obtained two third places in the category in the three races they have contested so far during the ELMS this year.
In 2019 they were the first female crew in 10 years to compete in the 24 Hours of Le Mans and finished ninth in their category.
“There should be no doubt that we definitely came to Le Mans with much more experience as a team and as drivers.. This helps us focus on the race as we all have an idea of what we are up against, “says Michelle Gatting.
“We had a good start to the season at ELMS with two podiums so far and we are targeting the podiums again at Monza and Portimão. As for the Le Mans result, I think we should aim for a top 10. There are 22 cars and a lot of strong competitors, “he adds.
The french Michèle Mouton, President of the FIA Commission for Women in Motor Sport and winner of the 2L Prototype category at Le Mans in 1975, states on the FIA website: “Le Mans is very special and to have two female crews on the line check out is amazing. “
“It is a true step forward and proof that our best drivers have their place within professional teams.. Tatiana, Sophia and Beitske are learning endurance racing but they have had some really positive races so far this season and their motivation to improve lap by lap is high, “adds Mouton.
“In his second season on GTE, Michelle, Rahel and Manuela have shown that they are capable of finishing on the podium and I know they will try even harder now that they have the experience of a Le Mans race behind them. Do not underestimate how difficult the challenge will be, but all six drivers are well prepared and have great teams behind them. We wish you all a safe and successful career, “says Mouton on fia.com.
There was no more than one all-female team at the 24 Hours of Le Mans since the 1970s. In 1975 three lined up: that of the French Anne-Charlotte Verney and Corinne Tarnaud and the Belgian Yvette Fontaine (Porsche 911 Carrera RS), that of the finery Christine Dacremont, Michèle Mouton and Marianne Hoepfner (Moynet LM75) and that of the also French Marie-Claude Beaumont and Italian Lella Lombardi (Renault Alpine A441).
In 1997 there were two teams with only women at the wheel: the Belgian Christine Beckers and the Italian Lella Lombardi (Inaltera LM77) and the French Christine Dacremont and Marianne Hoepfner (Lancia Stratos).
The race will start on Saturday at 14:30 CET (12:30 GMT) and will finish the next day at the same time.