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The mighty Michèle Mouton

2 years ago

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Dan Prosser | Ti co-founder


6 January 2022

One thing we should all do this year is acknowledge the 40th anniversary of Michèle Mouton’s 1982 World Rally Championship campaign, for it is by some margin the finest performance by a woman over a season of motorsport. Nobody else comes close, not in her discipline of rallying, nor endurance racing, touring cars and certainly not in Grand Prix racing.

(In fact, in the whole history of the F1 World Championship since its inception in 1950, just two women have started a Grand Prix (though five have been entered) and of them, just one has finished in a point-scoring position, Lella Lombardi scoring half a point for being in sixth place when the 1975 Spanish Grand Prix was abandoned at less than half distance.)

Another thing we should do is ask why, in half a lifetime and against the backdrop of far greater gender equality in wider society, no other woman has been able to compete at such a high level since.

How good was Mouton? She started 50 WRC events between 1974 and 1986 and won four. Three came in that remarkable campaign she delivered 40 years ago, earning her second in the drivers’ standings behind the great Walter Röhrl and ahead of teammate Hannu Mikkola. She is the only woman to win at rallying’s highest level. In fact, she’s the only woman ever to win at FIA World Championship level in any of the marquee categories. She stood on the WRC podium nine times in all (and even won her class at Le Mans in 1975).

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