The Iron Dames is the female team of the Italian Iron Lynx motorsport lab. Last weekend, the all-female driver squad of Iron Dames, Rahel Frey, Michelle Gatting, Sarah Bovy, brought their Motul-powered Ferrari 488 GTE EVO to a fifth-in-class finish at the legendary and testing 1000 Miles of Sebring. Rahel tells us how their season opener in the World Endurance Championship went.
Rahel, Iron Dames is unique in the world of endurance racing. Could you give us an overview of what the team is about?
Iron Dames is a very unique project. It was created by Deborah Mayer as a competitive female racing team. We race under the slogan “Women Driven By Dreams”. We want to inspire females to enter the world of motorsports. So, we try to support the inclusivity of female power within our sport, not only on the driving side, but also on the mechanical, engineering and management side.
Not only are you a racing driver on the team, but you’re also a team leader. What does that entail?
Yes, on one hand I’m the driver. I love to drive fast cars and I love the competition. But I’m also the project manager for the Iron Dames. This means I talk to our female drivers and try to find a very nice place for them, to connect them with manufacturers and teams within different series, not just in our team, but within different championships. We are already a big team, but we still aim to grow and to get more international. We are definitely growing on all fronts.
How was the 1000 Miles of Sebring for Iron Dames? You finished fifth in class and were the fastest Ferrari in your first race of the season.
This was definitely a good start into the season. Last year our best finish was seventh in the world championship. So now starting the season with a high score is already great. This was what we all worked hard for over the wintertime and the hard work has paid off. Nevertheless, our goal is to finish in the top five in the championship and we are very happy to do so already in our first race. Sebring was all new for us. We didn’t know the track, and the team hadn’t raced in America before, so we’re happy with the entire team’s performance. We prepared well for the race, we didn’t make any mistakes on track and were fast throughout the weekend. We are very happy with our season opener in WEC.
As your team’s first experience at Sebring, how did you find the track, which is notorious for its bumps?
It was very bumpy. It’s an old airfield and there are no track limits, so as soon as you make a mistake, you’re off the track. It’s an old school American racing spirit and we simply loved it. The fans were very close to the track, they were able to enter the paddock, and the pitlane is just a wall with tents and cars, so everything was very simple and back to basics, but well organised. This is the American way of motorsport and is so different to what we’re used to in Europe. It was a good new adventure, and we would definitely love to go back.
What’s it like to race for 1000 miles? Is it like a marathon, where you take it easy at the beginning and get faster at the end?
The important thing in endurance racing is to survive and then in the last two hours it turns into a sprint race, but for me that’s more the strategy for a 24-hour race. For an eight-hour race, it’s flat out from the beginning, but you do take care at the start. The most important hour in an eight-hour race is always the last one. The car can go flat out the whole race. They’re very reliable. But the driver also has to concentrate for the whole eight hours [laughs].
On the subject of reliability, how important are Motul’s lubricants in helping you reach the end of the race in a good position?
It’s very important. One little mistake or technical issue can cost a lot of time and potentially a very good result. In WEC, we only have five race weekends a year, so even one little issue could cost us the championship immediately. We are really happy and appreciative that we can count on reliable long-term partnerships. Knowing each other definitely helps a lot. So, thank you very much to Motul.