Five women to race at Le Mans in 2022
As ACO released the 2022 Le Mans 24H entry list, five female drivers have been confirmed at the start of this year's endurance classic: Wadoux makes her debut, Floersch to race under the APR banner and Iron Dames are back for their fourth time at La Sarthe.
After a few days' delay due to the FIA decisions on Russian and Belarusian entries, the 2022 Le Mans 24 Hours entry list has finally been announced - and for the fourth year in a row we will find female participants in the most exclusive endurance race on the planet.
In 2019, Iron Dames brought a fully-female crew to the GTE-AM category, finishing ninth in class with Manuela Gostner, Michelle Gatting and Rahel Frey. The team founded by now-FIA Women In Motorsport Commission President Deborah Mayer kept momentum in the two following editions, when the black and pink Ferrari continued to finish the most demanding race within the top-ten.
In 2020, Iron Dames were joined by another fully-female crew - this time in a prototype category: for the first time in LMP2, the Richard Mille Racing Oreca 07 was driven by three female stars - Sophia Floersch, Tatiana Calderon and Beitske Visser. The three Le Mans rookies were ninth at their debut, in a remarkable achievement for the three young racers.
One year later, Floersch was unfortunately crashed out of the race in the earlier stages, when the Swiss team had pace to finish in the top-6.
As Richard Mille Racing moves away from an all-female crew, the Swiss watch-maker will still support a woman in her Le Mans adventure: Lilou Wadoux is set to make her LMP2 debut in WEC and will start her first 24 Hours at la Sarthe in the #1 Oreca alongside rally legend Sebastien Ogier and Charles Milesi.
Wadoux, 20, was third last year in the Alpine Europa Cup and established herself as one of the most exciting up-and-coming female sports car drivers in Europe. With several podiums under her belt and a race win in Portimao, Wadoux impressed in the Alpine one-make series and was promoted to the rookie test in FIA WEC at the end of December.
It will not be her first race on the legendary 13.626 km-long racetrack, though: Wadoux has in fact entered last year's Porsche Sprint Cup Challenge support race, where at her first race in the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup took an outstanding pole position and race win, in dominant fashion.
Sophia Floersch will also make her third appearance at Le Mans: the young German star announced she would enter the full ELMS campaign with G-Drive Racing, but following the Russian outfit withdrawal from their WEC and Le Mans 24H commitments, technical partner Algarve Pro Racing is set to take over G-Drive's entries - including Sophia Floersch's #47 Oreca 07. She is set to share the seat with American John Falb and a still to be confirmed third driver.
Floersch contested the final round of the 2021 ELMS championship at Portimao with the Portuguese outfit, finishing third overall and becoming the first woman to step on the overall podium in the series. The 20 year-old racer also confirmed she will continue with Algarve Pro Racing for the full ELMS season.
"Now it's official", wrote Floersch on her social media. "Together with John Falb, I'll be competing for Algarve Pro Racing Team in the 24 Heures du Mans. In addition, I will be competing with APRacing in the European Le Mans Series."
"The goal is clear: we want to drive at the front. Thanks to Stewart and Sam Cox and everyone who was involved for their great commitment."
Rahel Frey, Michelle Gatting and Sarah Bovy - at her second 24 hours of Le Mans - will again lead the Iron Dames line up in the #85 GTE-Am Ferrari 488 GTE Evo.
Bovy was promoted to the main team after starting the season in the Le Mans Cup, but strong results and great racecraft meant that the 32-year-old Belgian became part of the regular crew that will tackle the WEC, ELMS and GT World Challenge Europe campaigns in 2022.
A 62-car entry list for the legendary race will see five hypercars in the main category, an uber-competitive field of 27 prototypes in LMP2, 7 GTE-Pro crews and 23 entries in GTE-Am.
LMP2 will be again a closely-fought class, with a few interesting new additions such as Team Penske and Prema.
The race is scheduled to return to its traditional June slot after 2019, with the race going green on Saturday June 11th.