Last weekend, the Italian racing team, Iron Lynx and its all-female line up, the Iron Dames ended the European Le Mans Series (ELMS) season with a dominant win at Portimão, making history in the process.
The Iron Dames’ perfect weekend began on Saturday afternoon, as Sarah Bovy continued her brilliant qualifying efforts in the #83 car to take the first pole position by a female driver in the history of the European Le Mans Series, another milestone moment for women in motorsport.
The race on Sunday started in difficult, wet conditions; Sarah stayed in the top three in the LMGTE class in the early stages, setting good and consistent pace for the rest of the race.
The Iron Dames took a podium after a great performance last time out at Spa, and opted for an excellent alternative strategy while the other leaders pitted under Full-Course Yellow (FCY), retaking the lead after 35 minutes.
Sarah brought the car in from first place after a great double-stint, handing over to new Ferrari Challenge Europe Trofeo Pirelli champion, Doriane Pin under another FCY period.
Doriane put the #83 car a lap ahead of the entire LMGTE field during her stint and boxed for Michelle Gatting to end the race as the rain came down again.
Michelle managed the gap from the front and boxed for new tyres late on, crossing the line over a lap ahead of the field to make the Iron Dames the first all-female winners in the history of the European Le Mans Series and secure third place in the LMGTE standings.
By taking third in the final standings, the Iron Dames secured an automatic entry to the 2023 24 Hours of Le Mans for Iron Lynx to compete in the iconic race in its centenary year.
Claudio Schiavoni started the #60 Iron Lynx car from ninth place, still in the title race and with a good chance to finish in the top three in LMGTE.
The #60 car won in Monza with Claudio, Matteo Cressoni and Davide Rigon, and fought in the top ten throughout the first half of the four-hour race at Portimão.
Claudio did very well in the changing conditions, bringing the car in for Matteo after 90 minutes. Matteo brought the car up to fifth place, handing over to Davide who finished in a strong fourth place to complete a great recovery, narrowly missing out on a podium. The #60 car also secured fourth place in the final LMGTE standings.
Iron Dames Project Founder, Deborah Mayer, said:
"This has really been the perfect weekend for the Iron Dames project, to get a first pole position for a female driver in ELMS and then become the first all-female line up to win a race in the series in the same weekend is something I find very moving and makes me incredibly proud.
This weekend’s success is proof that the Iron Dames project is working and it is succeeding as a result of the everyone’s efforts, the whole team made this happen. The project is about motivation, determination, strong performance, but above all we are women driven by dreams with a strong message behind us and lots of passion. We race to inspire women to follow their dreams and take the first step into motorsport, because as we’ve shown today, it is possible to make it happen.
Overall, I am extremely happy with what has been achieved this weekend, not only by the Iron Dames but the whole Iron Lynx team as well".
Andrea Piccini, Iron Lynx Team Principal:
"I am incredibly proud of the work of the entire team, from the first pole position for a female racer in ELMS on the Saturday to winning the final race on the Sunday, while car #60 had a great performance. This is the perfect way to end the ELMS season and is the conclusion we had hoped for.
I am really pleased with our perfect strategy and the great work of all of the team, the drivers, the mechanics, the engineers, everyone! We were the only ones to stick to slick tyres and this paid off for us.
We were very close to the podium also with car #60 and we made a great recovery through the race thanks to the strategy and brilliant performances from all of the drivers. Honesty, I couldn’t ask for more than that.
It is a pity, as we could have been standing at the top of the of the championship standing, but the unfortunate situation of the accident in Barcelona took away our chances of fighting for overall victory. But ultimately, we must be pleased as we showed great improvements throughout the season on the technical side, management of the races as well as the drivers".
The #9 PREMA Racing car started second as they fought for the LMP2 title, with Juan Manuel Correa taking the lead at the first opportunity.
Ferdinand Habsburg and Louis Delétraz did a great job to extend the #9 car’s lead during their stints, Louis bringing home a fourth win of the season to take the title in the team’s first season in ELMS