Iron Dames partner with Proton, return to FIA WEC
Iron Dames announced a partnership with Proton Competition which allows the all-female team to continue its GTE program in FIA WEC: Rahel Frey, Michelle Gatting and Sarah Bovy will therefore drive the bright pink #85 Porsche 911 RSR-19 GTE in the upcoming WEC season as well as at the 100th running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
FIA WEC released the full 2023 entry list, which includes 13 Hypercars, 11 LMP2 entries and 14 LMGTE Am crews, for a total of 38 full-season entrants from 12 different countries and a record number of teams in the top class and in the GTE class.
As announced on Tuesday, Doriane Pin will step up to the LMP2 category with Iron Lynx's partner team Prema - but she will not be the only Iron Dame on the grid of the upcoming FIA WEC season: the well established line up of Michelle Gatting, Rahel Frey and Sarah Bovy will return to the Italian team for a new campaign in the World Endurance Championship, as well as the 24 Hours of Le Mans - this time in new machinery.
The new Lamborghini manufacturer team will in fact partner with Proton Competition for its GTE program in 2023, lining up two Porsche 911 RSR-19 machines in the bright colours of Iron Dames and Iron Lynx.
“We are extremely happy to take part once again in the FIA WEC this season", commented Andrea Piccini, Iron Lynx Team Principal. "It will be a tremendous honour to see both the Iron Lynx and Iron Dames’ colours in the iconic 100th anniversary of one of the most prestigious races in the endurance world, the 24 Hours of Le Mans."
“Following the recent announcement of our exciting next chapter with Lamborghini in GT and LMDh, choosing Porsche for our GTE campaign felt like a natural extension and fits well into the global picture", Piccini added.
Gatting, Bovy and Frey will again pilot the #85 entry, thus combining programs with two different brands in 2023. WEC is then expected to move from GTE to GT3 specs in 2024.
"I’m super happy to enter another season in this prestigious championship and now in a Porsche RSR", said Gatting. "To be combining two brands this upcoming season will for sure be a challenge, but I know that it will give us plenty of experience and knowledge to bring with us in the future of motorsports."
"Those miles are worth everything in racing and I’m proud to be a part of such a project that keeps growing and developing. Can’t wait to be participating in my fifth 24 Hours of Le Mans and then even for the 100th anniversary".
For Iron Dames, it will be the third season in FIA WEC and the fifth participation at Le Mans. The team finished third in the 2022 championship standings, following three podiums in the last three races of the season in Monza, Fuji and Bahrain.
Interestingly, former LMP2 squad Richard Mille Racing appears to have joined forces with AF Corse to create a new LMGTE Am entry, in the #83 Ferrari 488 GTE Evo. Richard Mille Racing Team started operations in 2020 with an all-female line up, but moved towards a mixed-gender crew in 2022. The LMP2 program closed operations after the 2022 season finale, and it is not clear if the new joint-operation with AF Corse will continue its mission of fielding female drivers. Luis Perez Companc is so far listed as the only confirmed entry.
The 2023 calendar will again start from North America, with an expanded 7-event schedule.
After the Sebring 1000 miles in March, the series will visit Portimao, Spa Francorchamps and Le Mans - for its crown jewel event in June. Monza, Fuji and Bahrain will again round out the season.