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  • Writer's pictureRACERS

Le Mans 24H: Iron Dames making up ground after being hit by a prototype

While solidly in the top-five, the Iron Dames Lamborghini was hit by a hypercar into the fifth hour of racing – but continued to make up ground through another rain shower and a safety car with now Michelle Gatting behind the wheel.

Sarah Bovy, Iron Dames Lamborghini Huracan GT3, Le Mans 24H 2024
Photo credits: FIAWEC / DPPI

Iron Dames bounced back after being hit by a hypercar into the fifth hour that had dropped Sarah Bovy outside the top 10. Following a very solid triple stint by the Belgian and a bold run by Michelle Gatting brought back the #85 Lamborghini into the top five.

By staying out during a rain shower that shuffled the order, Gatting perfectly managed very tricky conditions and made up ground with several passes as the night approached – then a safety car at the end of the sixth hour of racing further closed the gap.

The all-female team had already made it to the top three in the opening hours, when a stellar triple stint by Rahel Frey saw her Huracan settling in third from ninth on the grid, having navigated a rain shower on slick tyres with great racecraft.

Sarah Bovy was up next; having climbed back to fourth during the rounds of pit stops, she stopped on lap 60 and stayed behind the wheel of the #85 Lamborghini Huracan GT3.

Light rain fell again, but not enough for a tyre change. Back in the top three, Bovy had really strong pace – but then fell behind Joel Sturm when the latter flew past on the straight, with the Lamborghini visibly suffering in straight line speed compared to the Porsche.

Nevertheless, she kept pushing and set her personal best lap in 4:01.5, eventually returning to the top three in between stops. A slow zone was deployed when the #35 Alpine hypercar came to a halt with engine issues.

While running with a safe margin, Bovy was unfortunately hit by the #4 hypercar Porsche at the Porsche Curves, which sent the #85 Lamborghini into a spin. Sarah was able to rejoin and immediately pitted , but the incident had put the Belgian down to P13 in class, having lost over one minute. The #4 Porsche was handed a drive through for the accident.

Behind the clouds, the sun started to get low over the horizon and the temperature dropped under 15°C.

With now a mountain to climb, Bovy was several seconds per lap faster than the cars ahead; she caught Johnny Laursen and passed him with a great move at the exit of the Dunlop chicane. Next up was the GR Racing Ferrari, 19 seconds ahead. That gap kept going down, and the Belgian racer was soon back into the top ten with 5 hours and 30 minutes elapsed.

By lap 80, Bovy had closed the gap to Wainwright to 6 seconds, then pitted at the end of a triple stint from ninth place in LMGT3 and handed over to Michelle Gatting – who took over as the darkness approached.

Rain reappeared as Michelle had almost caught the #87 Akkodis Lexus; several cars pitted for wets but Gatting stayed out and made it back into the top ten and, despite the rain intensifying, conditions soon eased and the Iron Dames gamble paid off.

Gatting battled with Ian James and was glued to the back of the Heart of Racing Aston Martin when the Full Course Yellow was deployed for an incident involving the sister Iron Lynx Lamborghini of Claudio Schiavoni. One lap later the green flag waved again and Gatting made a great pass stick, gaining sixth place after a brilliant recovery.

In clear air, Michelle soon closed a 13 second deficit to the United Autosport’s McLaren of Cottingham, eventually reclaiming the top five when the latter pitted.

Iron Dames completed their 9th pit stop just as the safety car was out for the first time in the race, following an accident for the #15 BMW hypercar that had damaged the barriers after contact with Kubica’s Ferrari.

Up to fifth, the neutralization gave Iron Dames the chance to make up for the time lost during their contact.

Just as the merge process commenced after one hour behind the pace cars, more rain fell over La Sarthe – but again not enough of the track was significantly wet for a tyre change.

Eight hours into the race and with the restart approaching, Michelle Gatting is sitting in P4.



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