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Woman Spotlight Wednesday: The Iron Dames

Written by Sophie Harvey, Edited by Vyas Ponnuri

Image Credit: Iron Dames

Women have played an influential role throughout the history of motor racing. Many have taken to the wheels of motorsport machines, while numerous figures have worked tirelessly on the sidelines in various roles, shaping the motor racing world to the present day. Woman Spotlight Wednesday aims to take a look at the tales of these superwomen, who have surpassed various hurdles to reach where they are today.

Perhaps, it’s unsurprising that this week’s article is about the iconic Iron Dames - having achieved their maiden win at the recently concluded 8 Hours of Bahrain, the team rewrote history, becoming the first all-female team to stand on the top step in any World Endurance Championship category to date.

Their glory doesn’t stop there. Having previously competed in Ferrari Challenge and even Italian F4, these women are just getting started.

Who are the Iron Dames?

The Iron Dames are an Italian racing outfit based in Emilia-Romagna. Founded in 2018 by entrepreneur, driver and FIA Women in Motorsport President Deborah Mayer, the team’s mission was to be the first all-female lineup in endurance racing.

Iron Dames have evolved from the parent team Iron Lynx, managed by racing driver Andrea Piccini. Iron Lynx operate in the IMSA Sportscar Championship, GT World Challenge Europe and FIA WEC, competing using a Porsche 911 RSR-19, identical to that of their female counterparts.

Iron Dames’ purpose is to support women across the entirety of the motorsport industry - from mechanics and engineers, to drivers and managers. The team is a collaborative space for female career-growth and representation. Their efforts have even expanded to the equestrian world - this team truly has no limits.

Image Credit: Iron Dames

Who’s involved?

Iron Dames WEC team spent 2023 competing in LMGTE category, their efforts spearheaded by Sarah Bovy, Michelle Gatting and Rahel Frey.

Sarah Bovy is a former member of the Formula Renault Academy, and is a protege of former Formula 1 driver Thierry Boutsen. Having competed in Belgian Touring Cars, Lamborghini Super Trofeo, and even dabbling in the now defunct W Series, Bovy is an experienced competitor. She now competes in FIA WEC alongside the European Le Mans Series and GT World Challenge.

Michelle Gatting competed in the likes of Formula Ford Denmark, the Volkswagen Cup and the Porsche Carrera Cup before arriving to the Iron Dames. An enthusiastic participant since the team's inception, Iron Dames would not be who they are today without the young Dane. Gatting became the first female to win the renown Ferrari Challenge Europe Trofeo Pirelli, partnering with Iron Lynx.

As for the oldest Iron Dame, Rahel Frey has been a professional driver since 2011. Before making her endurance racing debut, Frey was a regular contestant in single-seater championships, such as the German Formula 3 Championship, International Formula Master and Formula Renault 2.0 - in which she is a multiple race winner.

Frey's time as an Audi factory racing driver gave her a taste of endurance racing, prior to joining the Iron Dames, competing in popular events like the 24 Hours of Nurburgring, Bathurst 12 Hour, and the European Le Mans Series.

The wider Iron Dames family consists of popular names, such as Ferrari Challenge European Champion Doriane Pin (currently driving for PREMA Racing) and formerly Ferrari Driver Academy’s Maya Weung, infiltrating more new and exciting championship series’ year on year.

Image Credit: Iron Dames

What have the Iron Dames achieved?

As two-time Ferrari Challenge champions, success is a familiar feeling within the Iron Dames. However, their most significant achievement so far would be their maiden WEC win at the 8 Hours of Bahrain, the last ever LMGTE Am race in the class’ history.

This marked an incredible milestone for the team, becoming the first all-woman team to win a race in the World Endurance Championship, piloting their Porsche 911 RSR-19 from pole to victory. They also secured vice-champion status in their category, and were joined on the top step of the podium by Iona Hernandez, mechanic for the #85 - a perfect ending to their season.

No doubt inspiring the racing personnel of the future, the Iron Dames are speaking volumes for women in motorsport. This certainly won’t be the last time you hear of them - the Iron Dames have already rewrote the history books, and are looking to do so again, as they seek to achieve further endeavours along the path of motorsport.


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