For the second year in a row, we’re seeing two teams composed solely of women drivers competing in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Let’s meet the No. 85 Iron Lynx and the No. 1 Richard Mille Racing crews.
- Class: LMP2; 23 cars
- Car: Oreca 07-Gibson
- Drivers: Sophia Floersch, Tatiana Calderon, Beitske Visser
- 2020 Finish: 13th overall, 9th in class
This crew is composed of some of the most promising names in the junior ranks of motorsport, with Visser a late addition after originally scheduled driver Katherine Legge was injured in a crash. They’re competing in the European Le Mans series this year and are currently sitting sixth in class out of 15 entries.
Calderon has competed both ELMS and the Super Formula open wheel series with her best overall series finish of second in MRF Challenge Formula 2000. Floersch’s career has thus far been composed of open-wheel racing, with her current focus being on Formula 3. Finally, Visser has competed in everything from GT cars to open-wheel machines, finishing second in the inaugural W Series championship.
- Class: GTE AM; 23 cars
- Car: Ferrari 488 GTE
- Drivers: Rahel Frey, Michelle Gatting, Sarah Bovy
- 2020 Finish: 34th overall, 9th in class
The No. 85 Iron Lynx team also goes by the name Iron Dames, and the whole goal here is to inspire other women, young and old, to conquer whatever challenges are in their way.
Frey has competed in DTM, ELMS, and IMSA since 2010. Gatting got her start with a third place overall finish in Formula Ford Denmark in 2011, since moving onto touring car and endurance racing. Bovy is a new addition to the team this year; she competed in the inaugural W Series championship.
Women have had a long and complex history at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, with Odette Siko and Marguerite Mareuse starting in 1930. Out of the 88 races held at Le Mans prior to this one, 18 have featured an all-female crew, with a total of 63 women entering the 24-hour race. Impressive numbers on their face, but not quite as impressive when you consider the fact that there are thousands of men who have competed.
In a recent chat I had with soon-to-be Nürburgring Endurance Series Champion Janine Shoffner, we discussed the pros and cons of the all-female team. Shoffner holds a fairly similar stance to myself: these teams provide valuable opportunities for women to compete in events they may not normally have a chance to, but it’s about time that we start signing women on any team. Her gender should’t make her a novelty that must be confined to only one specific type of team.
“I think right now we’re in that element of, there’s some support, you can raise money for a team, for an all girls team, and then we’ll take that and us girls will get better and as time goes on, women will be on teams in their own right,” Shoffner told me.
But for now, we can give both the No. 1 Richard Mille Racing team and the No. 85 Iron Lynx racing team our support.