24h Le Mans
19/06/2019 - 18:01

Kessel Racing proves motorsport isn't just for men

Three women were in the driver line-up at the 24 Hours of Le Mans this year: Manuela Gostner (Italy), Rahel Frey (Switzerland) and Michelle Gatting (Denmark). The three, who shared the wheel of the Kessel Racing #83 Ferrari 488 GTE, drew attention from media and fans alike.
Kessel Racing proves motorsport isn't just for men

Motorsport as a whole is actively seeking to attract more women to racing, across the spectrum of roles involved. Michèle Mouton, former rally champion and Le Mans driver and current president of the FIA Women in Motorsport commission supported the Kessel Racing endeavour.

23rd all-female driver crew

This is the 23rd all-female driver crew since the race began in 1923.  Women at Le Mans go back a long way. The first to compete were Odette Siko and Marguerite Mareuse, in 1930. They finished seventh in a Bugatti 40. Two years later Siko returned with Jean “Sabipa” at the wheel of an Alfa Romeo 6C with which she claimed fourth place overall, the best result for a woman in the race to date.  

This year was the first time since 1977 that an all-female driver line-up finished the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Nine years ago, a female driver crew took part, but withdrew due to engine failure. Rahel Frey was one of the drivers in the 2010 race, sharing the wheel of the Matech Competition #61 Ford GT with Natacha Gachnang and Cyndie Allemann.  

This time, Frey’s co-drivers were both rookies. The crew started out in the 2019 European Le Mans Series (ELMS) and took second place in LMGTE in the first round at Le Castellet in April.

"I’ve always dreamed of racing at Le Mans"

The three women did not know each other before racing as a team but gelled quickly, their love of racing drawing them together. “I’ve always dreamed of racing at Le Mans. Ever since I was a child” admits Michelle Gatting, the youngest of the three.  For Manuela Gostner, it’s also “a dream come true. The atmosphere, the circuit, the team... it’s all incredible!” Having lived their dream of racing at Le Mans, the women accomplished their goal of finishing the race. After 24 hours and four minutes of racing, in which they completed 330 laps of the Circuit des 24 Heures du Mans, the Kessel Racing team finished 39th overall and ninth in LMGTE Am. A good result for an inexperienced crew and one that manager Déborah Meyer can be proud of. 

Gostner has the last word: “Motorsport is not just for men. Girls should know that they can have the pleasure of racing too. There is no difference between sexes at the wheel of a car.”