Porsche Carrera Cup GB champion and former W Series racer Esmee Hawkey announced she will step up to European Le Mans Series with fully-female team Iron Dames, with also French young upcoming star Doriane Pin joining the team in Michelin Le Mans Cup.
23-year old British driver Esmee Hawkey made history last year when she won the Pro-Am title in the Porsche Carrera Cup GB, after a dominant season.
Hawkey came from a busy 2019, where she had contested both the Porsche one-make series and the inaugural W Series championship: she was in fact one of the five Brits on the grid of the all-female F3 series and, despite her inexperience in single seaters, Hawkey performed well and famously clinched a third place in qualifying at the season finale at Brands Hatch.
But GT turned out to be Hawkey's natural habitat and, after three years in the British Porsche Carrera Cup, she became the first ever female champion in the series' history.
Meanwhile, another woman was writing history: it was Ferrari brand ambassador Deborah Mayer – the mind behind the Iron Dames project – who brought an all-female team into the echelons of endurance racing: Manuela Gostner, Michelle Gatting and Rahel Frey entered in 2019 the European Le Mans Series and fought for at the very top of the classify, which gave the team their first entry at the legendary Le Mans 24 Hours.
Iron Dames repeated their remarkable results in 2020 and clinched another ninth place finish at the most famous 24-hour race on the planet, with the same three women lineup.
Stepping up their game in 2021, Iron Dames will move to the World Endurance Championship – which gave the Italian outfit the opportunity to refresh their line-up in the European Le Mans Series.
Always supported by the FIA Women In Motorsport Commission, Iron Dames will in fact significantly expand its on track presence in 2021: Manuela Gostner and Rahel Frey will be joined by Katherine Legge to contest the FIA WEC and the crown jewel race at La Sarthe.
In a surprise move, Esmee Hawkey will join forces with Iron Dames in their new ELMS campaign, sharing the #83 Ferrari 488 GTE Evo with Michelle Gatting and Rahel Frey.
“This is a really exciting opportunity,” Esmee commented. “I’ve always believed that motorsport can, and should, be an open and inclusive environment to compete in so I’m thrilled to be joining a project that works towards exactly that. I’ve followed the team closely over the past few years and have been impressed by everything they do so I can’t wait to start writing our own chapter together. I’d like to say a big thank you to Iron Dames for their faith in me and also to the team at MB Partners for their help and support in making this possible."
“The European Le Mans Series is an incredibly competitive championship to race in and a big difference to what I’ve done previously. I’m looking forward to pushing myself even further and learning as much as I can about the world of endurance racing.”
Operated by championship-winning Iron Lynx team, the team co-founded by Andrea Piccini has quickly established itself as a new benchmark in endurance and GT racing in Europe.
Esmee Hawkey says she is "delighted to be joining a pioneering programme and organisation and looks forward to further highlighting the team and the FIA’s cause through their success on track."
With Iron Dames also announcing FIA "Girls on Track" initiative winner Maya Weug in its Italian F4 operation, the project will also welcome a further new addition: French young upcoming star Doriane Pin – one of the four finalists on the FIA and FDA program – will get behind the wheel of the Iron Dames Ferrari in the Michelin Le Mans Cup after successful tests with the team at Mugello and Paul Ricard, and will share the seat with experienced Italian racer Manuela Gostner.
“We are extremely happy that Doriane is joining us,” – commented the project leader Deborah Mayer. “In Iron Lynx, Doriane will be surrounded by a group of amazing and very experienced drivers which is sure to help her integrate and develop within the GT environment."
“We look forward to seeing Doriane and Manuela racing together this year. We are sure that together, they will do a great job,” she concluded.
“One of our greatest missions has always been to help open doors for our young racers and enable them to demonstrate their potential with professional racing organisations." – said Michéle Mouton, President of the FIA Women In Motorsport Commission.
"FIA Girls on Track – Rising Stars has put some of these talented drivers in the spotlight and they are proving that given equal opportunities, they have the ability to start fulfilling their dreams on the track. The long-term commitment made by Deborah [Mayer] in supporting female talent is quite exceptional for us and these young drivers, and we will be following all the Iron Dames throughout the season.”
UPDATE, 07-Apr 20:52
It seems like a FIA driver categorisation misunderstanding has caused troubles to the #83 Iron Dames crew in ELMS. Contrary to what was recently announced, Esmee Hawkey won't be able to race in the series due to "incorrect information" provided to the FIA by the driver's manager, as a team's press releases states.
Iron Dames remains committed to maintain a full female line-up and will likely provide further info on the team's lineup for the upcoming 4H of Barcelona.
EUROPEAN LE MANS SERIES 2021
R1. 18 April - 4 Hours of Barcelona
R2. 16 May - 4 Hours of the Red Bull Ring
R3. 6 June - 4 Hours of Le Castellet
R4. 11 July - 4 Hours of Monza
R5. 19 September - 4 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps
R6. 24 October - 4 Hours of Portimão