A maiden World Endurance Championship win for the Iron Dames in Bahrain validates the project’s efforts, according to founder Deborah Mayer.
At the 8 Hours of Bahrain, the all-female #85 Iron Dames crew won their first WEC race in the final outing for the GTE category.
They became the first all-female crew in the WEC to secure pole position at Monza last year, and Sarah Bovy claimed a further five in seven races of 2023.
Bovy, along with Rahel Frey and Michelle Gatting, all took victory as one year ago, the team – with protégé Doriane Pin in place of Gatting – won their first European Le Mans Series race at the Portimao finale.
“What an incredible day for the Iron Dames,” said Mayer
“It’s hard to put into words so much joy and emotion.
“This first victory in the FIA World Endurance Championship is a very special moment to me because it gives full vindication to the project itself and to the passion, the dedication, the hard work of all the people within the team, both trackside and behind the scenes.
“I’d like to pay tribute to each and every one of them.
“This historic moment is theirs as well. It’s a world championship victory, but it’s also a family victory.
“The Iron Dames project was founded (in 2018) with the belief that women could excel in a male-perceived world as motorsport, and we are incredibly proud of what Sarah, Rahel, and Michelle have achieved.
“Since their debuts as Iron Dames, they have demonstrated remarkable determination, team spirit and never giving-up attitude that this victory rewards.
“They are proving that dreams have no barriers if you give yourself the means to make them come true.
“May this day inspire other women around the world to never give up on what they believe in.”
Bovy qualified their #85 Porsche 911 RSR on pole with a lap time of 1:58.692, over two-tenths ahead of second-placed Liam Talbot for the #777 D’Station Racing Aston Martin Vantage.
At the race start, Bovy kept out of harm’s way from Turn 1 drama from the other two classes, but it was Claudio Schiavoni who was most opportunistic.
The #60 Iron Lynx Porsche had climbed from the back row of the grid and up to the race lead during the opening laps, ahead of the #85.
Bovy’s opening double stint saw the team compete for third place, with no race disruption or dramas to interrupt the Dames’ race progression.
Their chances at the win were enabled when the #98 Northwest AMR Aston Martin were awarded a drive-through penalty after hitting the rear of the #9 Prema Racing Oreca 07 into Turn 1.
At this point, the #60 still held the lead, but the Dames were suddenly able to push for the lead.
Before the end of the sixth hour, the #60 retired as Schiavoni was unwell, and so handed the lead to the #85.
In the final hour, Michelle Gatting was under pressure to maintain her lead, after the #777 of Casper Stevenson began turning a strong level of race pace, which subtly but surely closed the gap down to the pink Porsche.
In spite of the gap becoming as short as two seconds, Gatting kept her lead en route to the final ever GTE win, and the first for the Iron Dames in the WEC.