Iron Dames show fighting spirit in challenging IMSA debut
A new car, a new championship, a new challenge, same fighting spirit: Iron Dames fought technical issues to complete their first ever 24 Hours of Daytona in the new Lamborghini Huracan GT3 EVO2.
There are events that encapsulate all the beauty and complexity of motor racing, able to spark the imagination of millions of fans around the world every year. The 24 Hours of Le Mans, the Indianapolis 500, the Monaco GP, the Rolex 24 Hours, the 24H of the Ring are just a few of them. They are challenges for drivers as well as for the machines, and there lies their greatness. There will be defeats also for the greatest drivers and teams, which will eventually turn into their greatest success once conquered. The debut of the barrier-breaking team Iron Dames to the premier North American Sports Car Championship IMSA certainly was a challenging one, filled with misfortune but also a source of valuable learning opportunities, as the team enters its new era with Lamborghini. In Florida, Iron Lynx fielded its three brand-new Huracan GT3 EVO2 for the first time - with the #83 again dedicated to the all-female project Iron Dames, represented again by the talented Rahel Frey, Michelle Gatting, Doriane Pin and Sarah Bovy. In the ROAR weekend of testing leading up to the 24 hour race, Iron Dames progressively built speed and got closer to the top ten in class - in one of the most competitive and biggest GTD fields ever. Frey qualified the car in 15th position and, as the team continued to get to know the car and the new championship, she took the start of the race. It was her second participation in the iconic race. The Swiss ace took the start from P13 after two cars were moved to the back of the field and was recovering steadily with a strong opening stint. Towards the end of the first hour of racing, Frey broke into the top ten in class, before handing over to Sarah Bovy. Unfortunately, the #83 Iron Dames Lamborghini received a drive through for having too many crew members over the wall working on the car – a penalty that also hit a couple of other GTD cars. The penalty cost Bovy a lap, as the Belgian had to build up again her recovery from the back of the pack. It was then Michelle Gatting's turn at the three hour mark; the Dane continued the charge and kept P16, as the pink brand-new Lamborghini Huracan tried to close the gap to the Triarsi Competizione Ferrari 296 GT3. Sarah Bovy was back behind the wheel as the race entered the fifth hour. She rejoined in P16, as the night was falling over the famous racing venue and temperatures dropped. Unfortunately it all went wrong soon after: the Iron Dames Lamborghini limped back to the pits and the car was pushed behind the wall for repair. Almost 20 laps later, Sarah Bovy was back out on track, as the team worked on an electronic issue. Sarah remained at the wheel for another lengthy stint, running 20th in class. At the following round of pit stops, Doriane Pin officially started her first IMSA race. She would gain one more position when the team passed the #96 Turner Motorsport BMW. Rahel Frey pushed hard through the night and moved up to 17th, before Gatting took over at around the mid race mark. Despite all difficulties, Michelle Gatting, Sarah Bovy, Rahel Frey and Doriane Pin never gave up and were always ready to pick up any opportunities that the race presented and collect important mileage to better understand the new car. With 7 hours and a half to go, Doriane Pin slowly returned to the pits but the car was quickly back underway, and the Frenchwoman could keep 17th in GTD. Unfortunately, the #83 Lamborghini had more setbacks with five hours to go: Frey brought the car back to the pits and behind the wall. Iron Dames slipped from 17th to 19th, having been stationary for over 20 further laps. But when everything seemed to suggest a possible retirement, the Iron Lynx crew worked tirelessly and managed to send the #83 back out on track. During the final action-packed and incident-filled hours, Michelle Gatting and then Doriane Pin kept it clean and completed the race in 18th place in class. While the result does not represent in any way the team's potential, the fighting spirit of the team fully emerged. Among the takeaway points from the 61st running of the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona, we will mention one of the most competitive entry lists in every class in any motorsports series in the world; an unfavourable BoP for Lamborghini, Ferrari and Porsche in GTD; the absolute proof that Iron Dames won't stop at nothing. "With less than 75 days between the last race of 22’ and the first of 23’ our magic team managed to make the transition to a whole new brand, prepare 3 shiny new cars, set up a workshop on a different continent, get familiar with an entire new championship and all those 3 cars saw the finish line of the Rolex 24" - wrote Bovy. "It was challenging and our car was unfortunately the one who suffered from electronics issue quite early in the race but I’m extremely proud of our team of mechanics, engineers and support - they never gave up and we did just the same - we kept the pace up and enjoyed every lap, fight and opportunity we had on track - and we had a great time!" "We raced hard for 24 hours - but this race will last a little longer because it's the result of days and weeks of tremendous work by everyone in the team", summed up Frey. "And while the result doesn't reflect the hard work, we'll keep going."