Iron Dames, the all-female racing team piloting a Ferrari 488 GTE, took part in their first ever Goodwood Festival of Speed at the weekend. The team was keen to spread their story of female inclusivity in motorsport at the world-famous event. To tell us more is Iron Dames’ Belgium racing driver Sarah Bovy.
Sarah, first time for the Iron Dames team at the Goodwood Festival of Speed. Was this also the first time for you personally?
It was my second time. I was there in 2018, with my other Italian brand [laughs]. I was there with Lamborghini as a demo driver. I already loved it and it was really cool.
What was it like going back with the Iron Dames?
It’s a little bit different when you go to an event with a team that has a purpose like we have with the Iron Dames. It’s even more powerful. We were there with all the racing cars that were at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. It was quite emotional to be honest to see the fans and their level of support. It was really special and we all enjoyed the opportunity because we know that it isn’’t something that happens every day.
What were some of your highlights of the Festival of Speed?
There are so many special, standout moments. On a very personal point of view, I had the opportunity to meet Tom Kristensen at the 24 hours of Le Mans, and then he was there at Goodwood as well. We were in the same batch of drivers running up the hill, and he remembered me and we had a good chat. I’ve been following these guys like forever. They’re legends, so to be able to have a conversation with them was amazing. He knows the Iron Dames project pretty well and was very supportive.
What’s the Goodwood Hillclimb like for you as a driver who’s more accustomed to circuit-based endurance racing?
For sure, the first time you go out there you are very cautious. The briefing from the team was “you don’t destroy the car. It’s a demo drive, we’re not here for the lap time, and we don’t take any risks”. At the beginning of the event, we all went very carefully, but what’s funny was that run by run we started pushing more and more. We’re all racing drivers at the end of the day [laughs]. It’s very different from a racing track – it’s a one-minute uphill run and it’s easy to remember where it goes.
What are favourite and worst bits of the Hillclimb? The wall towards the end, for instance, is quite intimidating.
The narrow part at the top is definitely the one you are most careful at. If you go slightly too wide, it can have serious consequences. I really like the first two corners, because at the start you can do a little burn out, and then the two corners are fast. The part I prefer the best is before the start where you do the turnaround. You can do doughnuts there, but we didn’t do that this time with the racing car.
Is it surreal seeing so many famous cars and people in one place?
There aren’t that many events where you see road and racing cars with so much history. Everywhere you look there’s amazing cars and motorbikes. In terms of drivers, I had the chance to meet Nigel Mansell. It was amazing to see him for real. There was a moment when he was having an interview with the crowd after driving his Williams F1, and he was crying at the end of it. It was so emotional. I believe you can have that only in an environment where you are connected with people with the same passion. Whether you’re a racing driver or not doesn’t matter at that time, you’re there as a tourist enjoying the moment.
When’s your next event?
I’m just coming back from a fun day at Spa, but now I’m leaving for the ELMS in Monza at the weekend, and then we stay in Monza for the WEC. So we have two racing weekends back to back and it’s business as usual.
Motul is a partner of the Iron Dames team. How important is the partnership and how does its lubricants help you achieve success on the track?
Lubricants are one of the most important parts in the racing car. They have a massive influence on the performance. Having a partner with the experience in this is a big added value for us. But the partnership is dynamic and living – it isn’t just stickers on the car.