Monday, October 25, 2021

LE MANS: le Femmes, 2021 Encore

Although how many even remember this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans race now?


Presumably only Hard Core 24 Heurs du Mans Aficionados will remember that last year's Le Mans event made history with the advent of two 100% Le Femmes Drivers line-ups, one LMP2 Prototypes entry, and one LM GTE Am Tintops' "Saloon."


As the Prototypes entry was the No. 50 Richard Mille Racing Team Alpine A470/Gibson V-8 with Columbia's Tatiana Calderon, then contesting Japan's Super Formula series being the only name I recognized of this  trio of drivers. Due to her being a former FIA Formula 2 Driver and a Alfa Romeo Racing F1 Test and Development Driver.


Calderon was partnered with Co-Drivers Sophia Florsch, then a German 19yr old  Teenager contesting her Rookie season in the FIA Formula 3 championship where she finished 29th out of 35 Drivers Overall. Along with Netherlands Beitske Visser who finished runner-up in the 2019 (Women's) W Series at it's controls. With the trio finishing 13th Overall, and 9th in Class.


For 2021, Calderon, who recently tested an A.J. foyt Enterprises IndyCar at Mid Ohio following the series race, and favourably impressed the Foyt team during her 87-laps outing, remains an Alfa Romeo F1 Development and Test Driver. Along with continuing splitting her time between Super formula and Sports Car racing this year.


Twenty-year old Florsch has switched this year to Tintops racing by moving to the Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters (DTM) Championship, driving for ABT Sportsline, aboard an Audi R8 LMS Evo in her Rookie campaign alongside team-mate Mike Rocky’ rockenfeller.


Following the cancellation of last year’s Women’s W Series, Visser made her LMP2 Prototypes debut at the 2020 Four Hours of Spa as Thy Leggy Juan’, aka Katherine Legge’s replacement at Signature Team after Legge suffered multiple fractures in a testing accident. Beitske remained with the team for the rest of the European Le Mans Series (ELMS) Championship.


Beitske is once again contesting this year’s W Series and recently made the Headlines at Spa Francorchamps. As perhaps you heard about the Massive six car Pile-up during their Qualifying session, which included two of the drivers being sent to Hospital for further evaluation, with one of them being Visser. As both Drivers were later released,  with the Dutchi’ Visser being sore from Back and leg injuries and Did Not Start (DNS) the season’s fifth of eight races, further denting her Championship standing.


Visser sat 12th with 18 points vs. Series leader Alice Powell’s 109 points, with reigning Champion Jamie Chadwick tied with Powell, albeit Powell held the tie breaker. As they’ll decide the Championship at the just concluded final two rounds at Circuit Of The Americas as part of the Formula 1 race’s Support Series.


As it took quite a Bitamyte’ of energy, and time to discern that the Signature Team was renamed as Richard Mille Racing for the 2020 ELMS season…


The Femme Fatale trio  is contesting this year’s FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) for Richard Mille Racing aboard it’s No. 1 Oreca 07 Gibson V-8 LMP2 entry.


As it’s Funny how I didn’t put together who Richard Mille was until learning of McLaren F1 Driver Lando Norris having his timepiece, a limited edition 1 of 33 Me Thinks? Custom Richard Mille $55k wristwatch in McLaren’s Papaya Orange and Blue team colours stolen off his wrist at the Euro 2020 Finals!


But as they say, it All went “Pear Shaped” for the No. 1 team in the sixth hour when Florsch crashed in the Dark during one of the multiple Rain Storms that popped up unexpectedly, frequently during the event. As Sophia went Offtrack and I’m not sure if she either tangled with the #26 G Drive LMP2 or was taking Avoiding action? Since they were both involved in the initial incident.


But then it got even Stranger when Florsch was trying to reverse out of either the Tyre barrier or “Kitty litter” and the #74 Racing Team India EurAsia LMP2 didn’t see her in the Flashing Yellow lights/Flags and Plowed into her!


As I Don’t recall who said it on the Radio Le Mans Broadcast, perhaps John Hindhaugh? But I recall whomever saying that the Track Marshals were knocking on the roof while Sophia was on her Cell phone to tell her to exit the car, since the collision with the #74 had triggered the In-car Medical Safety Alert, meaning Florsch needed to go for a mandated Medical Check-up, with the No. 1 ultimately being retired.


Meanwhile last year’s Gran Torismo entry was the #85 Iron Lynx Ferrari 488 GTE Evo chariot in the "lower" tier GTE Am (Amateur) category driven by Rahel Frey, Manuela Gostner and Michelle Gatting. They finished 34th Overall, and 55-laps behind the winner.


An as I’ve mentioned before, Frey's name sounded vaguely familiar to Mwah, before learning that she was part of an All Swiss le Femme's Driving trio Wayback in 2010. Aboard one of Matech Competition's Ford GT1's that I've previously scribbled bout here on No Fenders in a story titled Swiss Misses invade Le Sarthe…


Italy's Gostner cut her teeth in regional Ferrari Challenge series, as her family’s name is synonymous with Ferrari’s, along with reportedly being an ex-Professional volleyball player. While Gatting is another Dane' cutting her teeth in Sports Car racing - wishing to follow in the Footsteps of Christina Nielsen, a Two-times IMSA Weathertech SportsCar Championship GTD (Daytona) Class Champion.


Thanks to Raymond Hando’s For the Love of Indy’s Le Mans preview, as ‘Ol Hobbo’, nee HobbsCapp’, aka David Hobbs would say that Boy’s got eyes Sharp as Rats, Hya! I learned that this year’s #85 Iron Links LM GTE Am Ferrari 488 GTE Evo entry was sporting a new Driver lineup.


Whilst Frey and Gatting remain, Belgian Sarah boby replaced Gostner as of the previous six Hours of Monza round, where she made her FIA World Endurance championship debut, an thus Has  just made her 24 Heurs du Mans debut this year.


At one point in her racing career, former Belgian Formula 1 Driver Thierry Boutsen took her “Under His Wing” to help Sarah develop as a race car driver as part of his Boutsen-ginion Team, in GT, silhouette and Touring Cars. This followed Sarah’s Single Seater debut in the Renault 1.6 Belgium series before transitioning to “Saloons” in an On Again, Off Again Sports car career due to lack of funding…


Boby was confirmed as one of the inaugural W Series Reserve Drivers and made three starts in 2019, beginning at her Home race at Zolder where she failed to start due to technical issues. She claimed her best finish of 12th at Misano and finished 19th at the Season Finale at Brands Hatch after a first lap incident.


As No Clue on how Thar race went, other than by my unofficial counting, they finished eighth in Class, listed as 36th Overall, +39 laps to the winning Toyota.