top of page
  • Writer's pictureRACERS

Sarah Bovy opens ELMS campaign with pole position for Iron Dames

"Seeing so many smiles in the garage adds even more flavour to it" - Sarah Bovy claimed the first LMGT3 pole position in European Le Mans Series, as Iron Dames make their return to the series with their trademark speed.

Sarah Bovy, Iron Dames Porsche GT3, European Le Mans Series 2024, Barcelona Circuit de Catalunya
Photo credits: 2024 European Le Mans Series / FocusPackMedia - Jan Patrick Wagner

Iron Dames' return to the European Le Mans Series was immediately marked by Sarah Bovy's pole position at Circuit de Catalunya, as the 2024 season gets underway at Barcelona.

After a one year absence from the series, in fact, Iron Dames picked up where they left off and will line up from pole position in the all-new LMGT3 class.

Bovy is not new to these accomplishments, as the bronze-rated driver has emerged as a qualifying master in every series where the ground-breaking all-female team has participated. The Belgian became the first ever woman to claim pole position in FIA WEC, with a stellar performance at the 2022 6H of Monza. Since then, she has collected 5 pole positions in the World Endurance Championship - both in Ferrari and Porsche GTE machinery - one in ELMS, as well as two class pole positions in GT World Challenge Europe.

In their last ELMS entry - the 2022 4 Hours of Portimao - Iron Dames topped the qualifying's times for the first time in the series' history, then went on to win their first race.

Two years later, the team is back with a new car - the Porsche 911 GT3 R 992 operated in collaboration with Proton Competition - and with a slightly different line-up, as Rahel Frey will contest the full season alongside bronze-rated Bovy and gold-rated Michelle Gatting - but one thing remains unchanged: the Iron Dames are back to win races.

As is usually the case for the team, the three drivers focused on car setup and on progressively building speed with the ultimate aim of long run consistency in practice, making good progress through FP1 and FP2 where they got closer to the top five.

What was immediately clear, though, was that the speed of the Ferrari cars would be tough to challenge, as the 296 LMGT3 cars often locked out the top five places.

In qualifying, though, it would be Sarah Bovy's time to shine again. Third on her first push lap, she then grabbed the top of the time sheets on the second run, becoming the first driver to go under the 1:42 mark. The Belgian improved once again on her third timed lap, setting a 1:41.850 which put her 3 tenths clear of the Iron Lynx Lamborghini of Hiroshi Hamaguchi, thanks to a particularly strong final sector.

With nobody quite close enough to challenge her, Sarah Bovy took the first ever LMGT3 pole position in European Le Mans Series, as Iron Dames picked up where they left off on their return to the series.

"I am very happy to start the ELMS season with the first pole position", said Sarah. "Seeing so many smiles in the garage adds even more flavour to it. Tomorrow's race won't be easy, but Michelle, Sarah and I will try to get through it."

"The real challenge is to keep the position and we are ready to fight", Bovy continued.

Sarah Bovy, Iron Dames Porsche GT3, European Le Mans Series 2024, Barcelona Circuit de Catalunya
Photo credits: Andrea Lorenzina / Iron Dames

Iron Dames are joined on the grid by another female driver - Catalan racer Belén García, who made the step up from Le Mans Cup to ELMS, again in a LMP3 entry. She will share the wheel of the #4 DKR Engineering Duqueine with Alexander Mattschull and Wyatt Brichacek. The team's weekend was off to a challenging start - including an incident in the practice reserved for bronze drivers. The trio, though, showed good speed again on Saturday morning and Brichacek took the reins of the Duqueine LMP3 for qualifying duties.

The US American improved to third on his second timed run and, while a little mistake prevented him from improving on the following lap, he kept fourth at the end of the LMP3 class session. Belén García's crew will line up from the second row for the opening race of the season on her home track. Manuel Espirito Santo took pole for COOL Racing, two tenths ahead of Gillian Henrion (Team Virage) and Julien Gael (RLR M Sport), who slotted into third at the end of the session.

Ben Hanley (United Autosport) claimed overall pole position, ahead of the IDEC Sport and Algarve Pro Racing LMP2 Orecas, ahead of tomorrow's 4 Hours of Barcelona.

There was also more positive news from the Iron Dames Le Mans Cup line up, as the team's new recruits Célia Martin and Karen Gaillard will start from the second row of the grid for the Iron Dames' return to the championship. Martin was in fact among the protagonists of a closely fought GT3 qualifying, where the Frenchwoman was third fastest, half a second short of pole position on her first GT3 qualifying in the #83 Lamborghini Huracan. Martin was on an even faster final lap, but was slowed down in the final corner by a Ferrari spinning in the gravel.

The first race of the Michelin Le Mans Cup season is scheduled for Saturday at 17:40 local time, while the main ELMS race will go green on Sunday at 11:30am.



bottom of page