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Iron Dames "emotional" after historic all-female WEC win in Bahrain

Sharing the #85 Porsche 911 RSR-19 in the GTE Am division, Gatting, Bovy and Frey survived late pressure from the D’station Aston Martin Vantage GT3 of Tomonobu Fujii, Casper Stevenson and Liam Talbot to take the chequered flag with a winning margin of 5.548s.

The result made them the first all-female crew to score a victory in any class of the WEC since the inception of the series in 2012.

The win also came in the final race for GTE cars, with the current GTE Am class getting phased out in favour of a new category for GT3 machinery in 2024.

Speaking in the post-race press conference, an ecstatic Gatting said the result of Saturday’s race proved that she and her team-mates are an equal match to their male counterparts in the pinnacle of GT racing.

“I just enjoyed the last ride in this car,” quipped the 29-year-old. “It's been an absolute pleasure having the opportunity to drive the Porsche this year and finally getting this win.

“It's been something we wanted to achieve for a long time and finally to get it for the last race, it's something that is quite emotional for all of us.

“I'm very proud of the whole team of this project. This is exactly what we want to achieve and we want to prove that we can compete on exactly the same level as everybody else and we are here to win races.”

#85 Iron Dames Porsche 911 RSR - 19: Sarah Bovy, Michelle Gatting, Rahel Frey (Photo by: JEP / Motorsport Images)

Gatting had to stave off the threat from Stevenson’ Aston Martin after taking over the #85 Porsche for the final part of the race, but the Danish driver said she had the race under control despite coming under serious pressure at one point.

“It was a bit of a pressure to be honest and also stress for me inside the car but in the end we were managing with our engineer. [With] the feedback I got, he made me stay calm in the car.

“At one point I could really see the Aston was very close. So I was like okay, ‘I may need to start to push a little bit more’.

“But it's about finding a balance of not killing the tyres at one point.

“I tried to stay calm. When he got too close I pushed a bit more to increase the gap a bit, and at the end with traffic and so on I managed to increase the gap even more.

“It felt pretty controlled to be honest.”

The sister #60 Iron Lynx Porsche led for almost three quarters of the race, but the team had to retire the car when it became clear that its bronze-rated driver Claudio Schiavoni wouldn't be able to complete his required driving time due to illness.

#60 Iron Lynx Porsche 911 RSR - 19: Claudio Schiavoni, Matteo Cressoni, Alessio Picariello (Photo by: JEP / Motorsport Images)

That promoted the Iron Dames car that Bovy had put on pole back in front of the race, with the #85 Porsche having consolidated second by that point.

Bovy felt tyre management was key to Iron Dames’ maiden GTE Am victory, with the highly abrasive Bahrain International Circuit known to be difficult on the Michelin rubber.

“This race was about tyre management and I think we managed that pretty well,” she said. “We anticipate the race conditions and the fact that we were going into the night and we really try to nurse our very nice Michelin tyres one last time.

“And in my stint as I was also taking the start it was a bit like we didn't know what to expect really in those temperatures but at the end the pace was there and I think the whole crew did a good job.

“I'm so proud of everybody. We have been working really hard for this and it's finally there and I think the way was long but we are super happy to be here tonight.”

As the most experienced driver in the Iron Dames crew, Frey has a long history in sportscar racing, having first raced at Le Mans back in 2010 at the wheel of a Ford GT1.

Asked where this result ranks among her other achievements, she said: “What we always aim for is to make the team stronger. I added a fair value to the team with my experience.

“To see that we can win races with the Iron Dames on the highest level of GT racing makes me very proud.

“I keep passing my experience to the younger generation, there are younger Iron Dames coming up. This is also something that we focus on for the future. This makes me very proud.

“But nevertheless I am still a racer and I love to race and I love to continue a little more to keep fighting for more wins.”

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