Sarah Bovy opens the new FIA WEC era where she left off: Iron Dames clinch GTE-AM pole position for the 1000 Miles of Sebring, at the team's first race with the Porsche 911 RSR
"Time to celebrate is tomorrow", as Rahel Frey likes to say, but there's certainly reason to be optimistic at Iron Dames, after Sarah Bovy clinched the team's third pole position in FIA World Endurance Championship.
Iron Dames, at their first race with the Porsche 911 RSR GTE, were protagonists of the Prologue last weekend, where they led two sessions and were constantly among the fastest team on track. Just a few days later, Michelle Gatting, Sarah Bovy and Rahel Frey kept momentum, leading the first practice session, clearly showing great speed on the one-lap pace - but also encouraging race pace with close times between the three drivers.
In qualifying, it was time for Sarah 'qualifying-master' Bovy to shine. And once again, she delivered an outstanding performance for the all-female team, taking back to back pole positions - after the 6H of Bahrain, 2022 season finale - and becoming the only driver to achieve consecutive GTE AM poles with two different car brands.
At the beginning of the 15 minute session, the #83 Richard Mille AF Corse Ferrari 488 driven by Luis Perenc Companc - who shares the car with Ferrari GT factory driver Lilou Wadoux - went on top of the time sheets, but it was then soon clear that pole position would be a battle between Sarah Bovy and Corvette Racing's Ben Keating.
Despite kissing the wall at the final corner, Bovy was fastest on her first flying lap, but was then topped by Keating. With another spectacular run, Bovy found almost 8 tenths of a second, further raising the bar. Keating's next lap was 9 thousandths of a second faster - but the Iron Dame still had a final chance to snatch pole position.
In the final minutes, Sarah Bovy extracted everything from the #85 pink Porsche and set a 1:58.949, almost four tenths clear of the #33 Chevrolet Corvette C8.R, as Ben Keating had to settle for second place.
While Michelle Gatting and Rahel Frey followed from the pits, Sarah Bovy could back off her final lap, with no one on track able to get closer to the Iron Dames' Porsche.
“I knew it was going to be very close" – said Bovy. "I wanted to attack as hard as possible. But it’s my first qualifying session with the Porsche 911 RSR, so it took me a while to find the limit. In the last lap, I actually felt really good – even though I nudged another car and was afraid of losing time while overtaking."
"I’m really happy about pole position. As a team, we managed to prove that we mean business with the new car. We worked hard towards that. Now, we’re concentrating on the race. Even though we secured a good qualifying result, the most difficult task is still ahead of us tomorrow.”
Bovy became the first woman to score pole position in FIA WEC at the 2022 6H of Monza, and would repeat the achievement in Bahrain. The first round of the 2023 season is off to a great start for the all-female trio, who will be on double duty for the 12 Hours of Sebring - with the Lamborghini Huracan GT3 EVO2.
“Kicking off the 2023 FIA WEC season here in Sebring with a pole position is an amazing start for the Iron Dames", said Iron Lynx's team principal Andrea Piccini. "Last year they achieved great results, which made us very proud, and we look forward to seeing how they can develop on that success during tomorrow's race and the rest of the season."
Lilou Wadoux's #83 Richard Mille-sponsored Ferrari will start from P4 in GTE-AM and was the fastest Ferrari in class; the Frenchwoman is making her GTE debut after contesting last year's rookie season in FIA WEC in the LMP2 class. In LMP2, Doriane Pin's #63 Prema Racing Oreca 07 was qualified by Mirko Bortolotti in P10 in class, with a best time of 1:50.726. Throughout the Prologue and the practice sessions, Pin, Bortolotti and Kvyat also showed very promising pace, so there are high hopes for a recovery in tomorrow's race.
The 1000 Miles of Sebring race will go green on 17th March at 12pm local time.