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  • Writer's pictureRACERS

Iron Dames fight their way up to P11 after proving Super Sebring

Nothing left behind: Iron Dames overcame two of the toughest endurance races in just as many days, making the most out of the unfavourable BOP and becoming the first ever full-female team to run the Super Sebring.

Photo credits: Andrea Lorenzina / Iron Lynx

The challenge was certainly out of the ordinary: a single weekend, two of the most proving races on the endurance calendar, in two different classes and two different cars. Iron Dames became the first ever all-female team to complete the Super Sebring, having raced in both the FIA WEC 1000 Miles of Sebring and the IMSA 12H of Sebring - for a combined over 20 hours of competitive racing. Having just moved to Lamborghini equipment in GT3, and to the Porsche brand in the final season of GTE, the challenge was even bigger for Michelle Gatting, Rahel Frey and Sarah Bovy, who alternated behind the wheel of two very different cars, that require different driving styles and in two different championships. Add to the mix the Florida weather, with heat over 30°C on track, and you'll get the perfect extreme test. After claiming pole position in the WEC race, Iron Dames led most of the first part of the 8 hour race, only to see their first WEC win slipping away for a tiny mistake. Despite the heartbreak, the all female trio had shown outstanding pace in the #85 Porsche 911 RSR GTE, which is highly promising for the remainder of the WEC season. A few hours later, they had to regroup and reset for the second round of the IMSA WeatherTech sports car championship - a physical and mental test in itself. At their first participation in the premier North American sports car series, Iron Dames had a troubled debut at Daytona, where they were hampered by several technical issues on the new Lamborghini Huracan GT3 EVO2. In the practice sessions of the 71st running of the Sebring 12 Hours, both the Iron Dames and Iron Lynx teams had positive steps forward, but confirmed an overall lack of speed for the Huracan. In the hands of the experienced Rahel Frey, the #83 pink machine set the 16th, 15th and 8th fastest laps in the GTD practice sessions. The Swiss driver then qualified in an encouraging 11th place - but it was soon clear that, with an unfavourable BOP, the top ten would be a mountain to climb. Michelle Gatting was the driver elected to start the race for Iron Dames and the Dane soon moved up to tenth, before an early Safety Car freezed the action less than two minutes into the competition. Soon after the restart, though, the #83 pink Huracan settled back in P13, in an incredibly tight midfield. At the one hour mark, a badly timed Full Course Yellow forced the team to an emergency pit stop for fuel under caution, which resulted in a further pit stop once the pitlane opened. At that point, Sarah Bovy climbed in the driving seat, rejoining in P16. The Belgian gained a position and remained in the car for a double stint Into the third hour, Rahel Frey started her first stint of the race and the Dames would gain back the lead lap thanks to a pass-by. Rahel overtook Katherine Legge - who was wrestling a wounded Gradient Racing Acura NSX - and clinched 14th place, before handing over to Michelle Gatting at the fourth Full Course Yellow of the race. The heat was certainly testing the drivers' endurance and most of the team altered their strategies to complete mainly single-stints until the sun set and temperature slightly dropped. Mid-way through the race, Iron Dames were still fighting on the lead lap. A Safety Car for the stranded #8 Tower Motorsports LMP2 left Gatting temporarily in the GTD lead, having yet to pit at the neutralization. Bovy was up next, and the bronze-rated driver had a brilliant restart that saw the Iron Dames moving up to P11. Mostly lacking straight line speed, though, the #83 Lamborghini soon had to give up some positions and settled back in 14th place in class. The following two hours were heavily disrupted by cautions, but Sarah Bovy always kept her cool and was flawless in avoiding troubles. She completed her running time and Rahel Frey took over once again in the eighth hour. The Swiss driver had to take a trip through the grass at the hairpin when she was pushed off by the #7 Porsche 963, but she could rejoin without damage. Steadily in P13, Rahel Frey and Michelle Gatting alternated behind the wheel in the following hours. They drove smartly and made no mistakes - despite the many hours of racing throughout the weekend on their shoulders. In the closing stages, the #83 Lamborghini Huracan GT3 EVO2 started to climb the order when some of the GTD entries ran into trouble. Rahel Frey brought the car home in P11, after a positive race that maximized the car's potential. “We're very proud of our team and drivers", commented Andrea Piccini, Iron Lynx's team principal. "We couldn't have done a better race with the BOP we were given." BMW collected a 1-2 in the GTD class, with the #1 Paul Miller Racing driven by Madison Snow, Bryan Sellers and Corey Lewis taking victory, ahead of the #96 Turner Motorsports BMW of Patrick Gallagher, Robby Foley and Michael Dinan. The #92 Kellymoss Porsche of Brule/Udell/Andlauer overcame misfortunes to score a podium finish, with 10 cars finishing on the lead lap after an unpredictable finale. During the Super Sebring weekend, the Iron Dames left nothing behind and pushed through adversities, showing their proverbial fighting spirit. Two rounds out of the four scheduled on the IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup now completed, the new Lamborghini factory team has certainly not been able to showcase its potential but, with IMSA being renowned for its good BOP, we can hope for a stronger second part of the season. The Iron Dames will return Stateside for the Sahlen's Six Hours of the Glen at Watkins Glen, on 22-25th June 2023.

Photo credits: Iron Lynx



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