Who is she?
Michele Mouton is arguably the world’s greatest female motor sport driver. She competed in the World Rally Championship for the Audi team, taking four victories and finishing runner-up in the drivers world championship in 1982.
Born in France in 1951, she started driving around her parents’ property at the age of 14. Michele started to co-drive in 1973 and built a successful career and a reputation as a fearless driver. In 1980, Audi picked her over many male rivals for their new factory team. In 1981, she won the Rallye Sanremo in Italy, holding off famed Finnish rally driver Ari Vatanen, who had earlier said “Never can, nor will I, lose to a woman”. Ha.
In 1982, she was on track to win the drivers championship, but crashed, taking her out of contention for the title.
Michele retired to start a family and in 2011 was awarded the Legion of Honour by French president Nicolas Sarkozy.
Why should we thank her?
Michele was a trailblazer in motorsport for women and no doubt many were inspired to take it up themselves. After her driving career ended, Michele went onto be the rally manager for the influential Federation Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) which handles the licensing and arbitration of formula one and world championship rally.
“Driving for me is independence…freedom. you are free when you have a car. And for me that was very important.”