Frey, Gatting, Gostner finish Le Mans 24 hours in top 10
The Kessel Racing Ferrari #83 took an historic P10 finish in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Rahel Frey, Michelle Gatting and Manuela Gostner drove flawalessly the Ferrari 488 GTE to the 41st overall position, 10th in the GTE-AM class.
For the very first time in history, an all-female line up completed the most challenging race on the planet, the iconic 24 Hours of Le Mans. The previous attempt (2010, by Allemann-Gachnang-Frey on a Ford GT), was prematurely halted by a technical failure.
There was sun, rain, Safety Cars and drama as per usual in Le Mans: nevertheless, it was a vastly untroubled race for the "Iron Dames", whose main focus was to bring the car home and take an historic chequered flag. "To finish first, you first have to finish" - there's not a more appropriate aphorism for Le Mans.
The more experienced Rahel Frey took the start of the race, before leaving the seat to Manuela Gostner. Then it was Michelle Gatting's turn, in the late Saturday afternoon.
As the rain became to fell on the circuit de la Sarthe, the ladies kept their cool and were only troubled by some unfortunate Safety Car timings.
Some stunning stints by Frey in the always scenic Le Mans night saw the #83 making up some ground and moving up the order.
Both Gatting and Gostner lapped consistently and error-free as well, and when the morning came, the gorgeous Kessel-run Ferrari was just below the top 10.
With late drama both in the LMP1 and GTE-Am classes, Gatting crossed the finish line in 41st overall position and 10th in class after 330 laps. A remarkable result for the "Iron Dames": not a single mistake from the whole crew and not a technical delay, with the #83 also finishing in front of the sister car, the #60 driven by Schiavoni-Piccini-Pianezzola. A clean-racing masterclass.
"Dreams do come true. We did it, managed to cross the finish line after 24 hours at position 10." - said Gatting through her social media profiles.
"This week has been such an unforgettable experience! A big thanks to everyone involved, especially Deborah Mayer, FIA Women In Motorsport, our Kessel Crew which means our amazing mechanics, Pietro, Marie, Gabriel, Giacomo, Tiziana, Franziska, all crew on our sister car #60. To the girls, Rahel Frey and Manuela Gostner for driving a race without mistakes and for all the laughter we had together."
"We crossed the line of the 24 Hours of Le Mans! The Iron Dames did an amazing job by taking P10! Now I have the certainty that this race is not comparable to anything else and i'm very proud of Rahel Frey, Michelle Gatting, myself, but also every member that contributed to turn this dream into reality, especially Deborah Mayer!" - echoed Manuela Gostner.
"Simply impressive. Thank you very much to the whole Kessel Racing team for this unforgettable memory!!!" - wrote Frey, who will now head straight to another legendary racetrack, the Nurburgring, for her second 24 hours race in two weeks.
The fourth woman behind the Iron Dames was Deborah Mayer, the project leader: a Ferrari ambassador with experience of Ferrari Challenge, Ferrari XX programs and GT Championships. This successful program was born from her innate passion for cars and challenges, with the support of FIA Women in Motorsport.
After a Monday communication, the GTE-AM winning car of Keating-Bleekemolen-Fraga has been disqualified from the race for a breach of fuel tank capacity regulations. The news comes after the further disqualification of the #68 Ford GT run by Chip Ganassi Team USA, which was previously classified 4th in the GTE-Pro class.
Even though the result remains provisional so far, these updates would mean that the Iron Dames have been promoted to P9 in class and 39th overall.
Frey, Gatting and Gostner will be back in the #83 Ferrari at Barcelona, as the ELMS season resumes on July 20th.
In Michelle's words:
“Dreams do come true. We did it, managed to cross the finish line after 24 hours at position 10. This week has been such an unforgettable experience!”
Ph credits: irondames.racing / Kessel Racing