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“Cohesion” Important for Iron Dames in 17-Race Program

Iron Dames preparing for “challenge” of tri-series program with same driver lineup…

Photo: Iron Lynx

Maintaining “cohesion” among the Iron Dames driver lineup will be “important” for Rahel Frey, Michelle Gatting and Sarah Bovy as they embark on a 17-race program together in three different series.

Iron Dames, the Iron Lynx-run initiative to promote female talent in motorsport, is fielding the same crew in the FIA World Endurance Championship, the European Le Mans Series and Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS Endurance Cup this year.

The team raced full-time in WEC and ELMS last season with a Ferrari 488 GTE Evo but the Endurance Cup venture is new with Frey, Gatting and Bovy eligible to compete in the new Gold Cup class.

The program totals 121 hours of racing and incorporates both the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the TotalEnergies 24 Hours of Spa.

It will include three visits to Spa-Francorchamps, plus repeat trips to Monza, Imola, Paul Ricard and Barcelona during a busy year.

“It started last year around mid-season during the preparations for Le Mans, when we decided that we were going to go with that lineup,” Frey told Sportscar365.

“It was a nice match. Then we did two races in GT World Challenge. It started a little difficult in Le Castellet, and then we went to Barcelona and saw nice progress.

“We were warmly welcomed in the championship by Stephane Ratel. It was a very nice exchange and competition in a very impressive field.

“We just thought and felt that this is an important step for the Iron Dames to show how competitive we can be.

“The goal for ELMS and WEC is to continue the good work we have done the past three years. There we were also always warmly welcomed from the world championship.

“The level is impressively high, but this is also the place to be to present ourselves and create a stronger name for the Iron Dames.”

Gatting added that running the 17-race program with the same lineup is “super important” for the Iron Dames organization.

The organization raced in ELMS and WEC full-time last year under the Iron Lynx banner.

Its 2022 lineup contested two WEC races together including Le Mans, plus one ELMS race, one GTWC Europe race and an Italian GT Championship round.

Frey completed both of the GTE campaigns, but Gatting only did two WEC races while Manuela Gostner was the designated Bronze driver in ELMS rather than Bovy.

“Rahel and me have been on the project since the Iron Dames were born,” Gatting said.

“The development we’ve had getting to know each other better, it proved over the years how important it is to get along with your teammates, because we spend a lot of time together.

“Knowing each other just helps the whole progress of making a good car and good performances.

“Personally, I love the fact that we can share these three championships together. We are a very good group.

“We have fun together off the track and I’m very happy that we got this opportunity being all together for the three championships.”

The newest member of the Iron Dames crew is Bovy, who made her debut with the team at last year’s Paul Ricard 1000km. She believes that having a tri-series program confirmed from the start is giving her more confidence heading into this year.

“What we’re going to do this season is covering the last 10 years I’ve been doing motorsport!” Bovy said.

“It’s pretty impressive for me to have such a program. Everything happened quite fast last year, so to be honest I was just taking stuff race-by-race. This year I had the time to prepare myself much better.

“The cohesion in the group is very good and very important. We are building upon what we do on the track, but also what we do out of the track so we can be efficient in what we are doing.

“For me, it’s the first time being part of a group like that, so it’s really nice and I enjoy it a lot. We are building a lot of souvenirs together that will last for life.”

Challenge of Switching Between Three Series

One of the Iron Dames’ main considerations will be to manage the constant switching between three different tire manufacturers. The WEC GTE-Am class uses Michelins, while Goodyear is the exclusive ELMS GTE supplier and Pirelli provides GTWC Europe.

Frey, Gatting and Bovy spent two days at Paul Ricard last week adapting to the new Pirelli P Zero DHF and also recently took part in a Goodyear test at Barcelona.

Last weekend they were at Sebring for the WEC Prologue preparing for the 1000-mile season-opener.

“A little bit of time and more mileage is needed, but from a driver perspective it’s very interesting,” Frey noted.

“It’s important that when we jump onto a different set of tires, we know what to expect. Then you can mentally prepare yourself.

“We collect a lot of information and this will only pay off in everyone’s future.”

Bovy added that while the weight of running three series might bring some exertions at the start of the season, the campaign should be a “huge asset” to the group overall.

“It’s definitely a challenge to jump from one car to another and one type of car to another,” she said.

“We’re going to struggle a little bit at the beginning because it’s always a challenge to adapt. But at the end of the day, I think it’s helping us to build a better background.

“Once you manage to do that, it’s for life, like riding a bike. I believe that even if it’s going to be a challenge at the beginning of the season, it’s going to be a huge asset for us at the end of it.”

Daniel Lloyd is a UK-based reporter for Sportscar365, covering the FIA World Endurance Championship, Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, among other series.

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