Sarah Bovy, Michelle Gatting, Rahel Frey delivered a solid performance in the 6 Hours of Fuji, to earn their fifth successive top-five of the season, with their remarkable consistency placing them in second place of the LMGTE-Am championship one race away from the end of the season.
In the 6 Hours of Fuji this weekend in the penultimate race of the 2023 the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) season, the 4.563km track, known for its high speed and technical corners, brought good memories to the pink trio who last year celebrated a historic milestone moment for women in motorsport by claiming the podium finish in Asia.
Following on from the positive performances in the previous rounds, the Porsche 911 RSR – 19 #83 pink car already showed a strong performance on Saturday, with another brilliant qualifying session from Sarah who qualified second, just 0.035 seconds from pole position.
Sunday’s race took place in dry conditions, following a mixed start to the weekend with threatening skies living up to expectations. The pink trio once again contested the race for the six hours amongst the top positions, at the heart of many heated battles and with an intense race finish.
As has been the story of much of the season the opening couple of stints featured Sarah battling against the #33 Corvette, with the pair providing some entertaining battles throughout. Michelle took over after 2 hours, put in strong times and kept the car in contention for the lead at the top of the class.
As the race progressed towards the midpoint, the #85 kept within range of the leading cars and in the fight for a podium finish. Rahel, who took over from Michelle after a single stint, battled hard to remain in with a chance of a top-three, but she dropped down the order slightly before handing back to Michelle to finish the race.
For the Iron Dames, the pace started to come back in the final hour and Michelle put in very strong times to keep close to the Corvette in front. Despite the determined drive, there just was not enough time to work up into the top three at the conclusion of the race.
But this valiant fourth place represents a largely positive result and could prove decisive in the quest for second place in the championship. The GTE-Am field has been close all year. Indeed, battles seemingly rage on right until the chequered flag at most of the rounds. With one race to go before the end of the season, the battle is still raging and today the Iron Dames leave Fuji taking a six-point advantage towards the season-ending silverware.
The final race in Bahrain, early November, promises to be a thrilling one, and they’ll be going all-out to make their mark and secure a championship result that could go down in history.
Iron Dame Doriane Pin, competing in LMP2 Class with the Prema Racing Oreca 07-Gibson #63, had a troubled run starting from 11th. Driving two stints, including the last one, Doriane was forced to maximise what she had, which culminated in rounding out the top 10.
For the time being, returning to Europe, the Iron Dames will be gathering on Wednesday at Vallelunga track to open a new chapter for the global Iron Dames project.
I am very proud of the attitude from the Iron Dames. Facing fierce competition, Sarah, Michelle and Rahel showed great fighting spirit and determination to secure a crucial result for the championship. It was a true team effort and I would like to thank everyone. We can’t wait to be in Bahrain to brilliantly round off this breath-taking season, in which our determination has never wavered.
We will keep pushing with the improvements that we’ve made so far and try again to maximise our opportunities. If there’s any time to believe the Iron Dames are getting closer to winning races and finishing the championship on podium, it’s now. In the meantime, next Wednesday will mark an important milestone in the young history of the Iron Dames project, and I’m delighted that we’ll all be able to experience it together in Italy.DEBORAH MAYER, IRON DAMES PROJECT FOUNDER
We can be happy today with P4 and with everything we have done together. Of course, the podium was very close, and we were hoping for it at some point. At the end we showed that the pink car was fighting at the front of the race, all race, like through all of the WEC season. For sure we will once more try to chase for that first victory in Bahrain which is a track that we like a lot. We will leave Fuji with a taste for a bit of redemption.SARAH BOVY
We can be quite happy with P4 in the end and with good points for the championship as we made the gap to P3 bigger. For sure we are still hungry for a win. We will try one more time in Bahrain.RAHEL FREY
We knew from last year that the Fuji race wouldn’t be the strongest one for the Porsche. Finishing P4 is a solid performance, and it means important points for the championship. We look forward to going to Bahrain and to end our season on a high.MICHELLE GATTING
Unfortunately there’s not much to say about today as we didn’t have the pace from the beginning of the weekend. We need to look into it when we come back to Europe, and work even harder, discussing together and trying to find solutions. We have one race left and we will give everything we have to do a good job in Bahrain.DORIANE PIN