On Saturday, 14 October the Iron Dames took on the challenge one of the world’s greatest endurance races: the 2023 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship’s season finale, Petit Le Mans.
For their fourth race in the series after joining the IMSA grid for the first time in 2023, Doriane Pin, Rahel Frey, and Michelle Gatting got their first taste of the 2.54-mile Road Atlanta circuit, competing against some of the biggest names in sportscar competition. They were able to count on the caring, reliable support of fellow Iron Dame, Sarah Bovy, throughout the weekend.
Qualifying took place on Friday afternoon in tricky conditions, with a changeable track environment seeing an evolution from wet to dry running. In the 15-minute GTD session, 19-year-old French racer Doriane posted a standout 1:23.795 run to fight for pole position and qualify a significant second in-class, alongside securing third on the grid overall.
Saturday’s 10-hour race proved to be a highly animated affair. Doriane took the start and maintained her second place grid position before taking the lead and building upon her strong pace to open an eight-second lead by the close of the first hour. She lost the lead in the pitlane which closed 15 minutes into an eventful second hour, when a multi-car accident sprung a third Full Course Yellow period.
After 85 minutes at the wheel, she handed the car over to Rahel who resumed the race in ninth and battled hard up to fourth. Soon after, however, she sustained damage to her right-rear after being hit by an LMP3 entry. This forced her to pit for repairs with damper damage.
She got back the circuit 16th in class, eight laps down on the class leader, but despite their hopes of a podium being dashed in the third hour, Michelle, Doriane, and Rahel set out to make up as much lost ground as possible. They pieced together a series of quick, clean stints up to the chequered flag, back to just one lap to finish 12thin class.
Outside of the race’s result, the Iron Dames can look back on a highly promising first season in IMSA with pride, after demonstrating that they hold a rightful place in one of motorsport’s most competitive championships.
The Iron Dames put in a very solid weekend for their first Petit Le Mans, which unfortunately was not reflected in the final result due to a contact at the end of the second hour. Nevertheless, the results of the weekend, and more generally of this first season in the highly competitive IMSA championship, are very encouraging. Doriane, Rahel and Michelle showed very strong driving and mental qualities and there is no doubt that they were up there with the best. Doriane’s performance in qualifying will remain a highlight, further confirming her speed, determination and high-speed progress. Getting to grips with the new Lamborghini Huracan GT3 EVO2 hasn’t been easy all season, but this weekend’s good feeling is a very positive sign for next one. I’d like to thank the whole team, who have worked tirelessly throughout the year to make these advances. I would also like to pay tribute to the warm welcome and support of the American public for this first season. In just four races across the Atlantic, the Iron Dames have found their place not only on the racetrack but also in motorsport fans hearts.DEBORAH MAYER, IRON DAMES PROJECT FOUNDER
Our IMSA season over. It was a pleasure even if it was a hard first one for us. We have finished Road Atlanta with a lot of positive notes. We have been fast, all the three of us, throughout the race unfortunately a contact dropped us down eight laps. It’s a pity, I am very sorry for the entire team which did great job but it is overall a good finish to the season and something we can build on for next one.RAHEL FREY
Of course, it is a very disappointing result for this race because Doriane did a great qualifying and a great first stint which put us in the lead with a big gap and gave us a lot of confidence. Unfortunately, Rahel was hit by a LMP3 with damage on the car. The positive thing that we can take we could see improvements in the car which was competitive all the weekend indications that we are going in the right direction.MICHELLE GATTING
The result is not the one we expected after a strong qualifying yesterday and with a very good car we could aim for something great. For sure, the unfortunate contact didn’t help us but we tried to push until the end but it was not enough. I really enjoyed driving here. Road Atlanta is a fantastic track like most of the American ones and I hope to come back soon.DORIANE PIN