Isabella Galmiche made history during 2022's Monte Carlo Rally. As co-driver for the victorious Sebastien Loeb, she became the first woman to take a victory at the prestigious rally event since Fabrizia Pons co-drove for Pierro Liatti in 1997. That’s not bad, considering rallying is Galmiche’s side gig. By day, she’s a math teacher.
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Galmiche has been rallying since 1995, WRC reports, but it’s always been a passion she’s indulged in when she can, as opposed to being her main source of income. Before Monte Carlo her 228 career starts only included six WRC entries, all of which were at lower divisions. Her seventh WRC start came alongside multi-time Champion Sebastien Loeb, who gave the 50-year-old co-driver a call ahead of his one-off appearance this season.
Why Galmiche? Well, Loeb had undertaken plenty of test sessions with Loeb, and her normal partner, Daniel Elena, had retired. It was a natural fit for Loeb.
“Séb called me to ask if I would join him for Monte-Carlo. Naturally, I immediately said yes,” she told WRC. “I did a lot of test sessions with him with Citroën and Hyundai when Daniel wasn’t available, but this was our first actual rally together – and what an amazing result.
“It’s a dream come true. It was already a dream just getting to take part in Rallye Monte-Carlo alongside Séb in such a good car, but to actually win, it doesn’t get any better than this. What a crazy story!”
Galmiche keeps her cards close to her chest; we know little about her history, with the exception that she’s been rallying since she was a child and that she’s now become the oldest woman to win a WRC event.
Part of that is because she’s a teacher by trade, seeing that as her primary occupation. When Top Gear asked her if she planned on taking her trophy into class to show her students, Galmiche emphatically said no, explaining that, “I haven’t talked about it too much but I think when I come back everyone will know! I don’t know how they’re going to react.”
Loeb and Galmiche’s biggest competition came from Sebastien Ogier, who took an early lead in the Rally. Ogier and Loeb swapped places and tailed one another for the entire rally, but a penalty for Ogier meant that Loeb and Galmiche were able to sweep the win by just over ten seconds.
Galmiche didn’t offer much information to the press about her future plans. She acknowledged that her success with Loeb will likely afford her future opportunities, but whether or not she’ll continue to compete remains to be seen. But as she told Top Gear, “What I feel is indescribable. These three days have been fantastic and I appreciate it very much.”