Michèle Mouton, a true legend of world motorship
In this issue, Legends Magazine presents you a French driver Michèle Mouton, a true legend in world motor sport. She is the only woman to have won a round of the World Rally Championship. And that’s more like four times than one! After winning the San Remo Rally in 1981, she went on to win the Rally of Portugal, the Acropolis Rally and the Rally of Brazil in 1982, when she was crowned Vice Champion in the World Rally Championship in her four-wheel drive Audi Quattro.
Some will claim that her four world championship victories can be explained more by the technological superiority of her car than by her talent. However, one would forget that Michèle Mouton had not waited for the arrival of the Audi Quattro to shine and win events in the French and European rally championships at the wheel of Alpines, Porsches, Lancia Stratos and other Fiat 131 Abarths. It is true that all the other manufacturers entered in the 1982 World Rally Championship did not have all-wheel drive cars. However, Michèle Mouton was able to prove later that her speed was at least equivalent to that of her male rivals! In 1985, we find her in the United States, at the famous Pikes Peak hill climb, which she then left her mark on. She won in the Open Rally category with its Audi Quattro, pushing back its main rivals to 42 and 47 seconds. More than a personal victory, it was a blow to Americans’ pride, who had previously been unbeaten in their prestigious race.
More than a personal victory, it is a snub from Europe inflicted on the Americans, until then undefeated in their prestigious race.
Then in 1986, when Jean Todt, director of competition at Peugeot, entrusted her with one of his formidable 205 Turbo 16s in the Tour of Corsica, Michèle Mouton not only matched her team-mates Bruno Saby and Timo Salonen, but also beat them on several occasions. The same goes for her rivals Markku Alen, Henri Toivonen and Miki Biasion at the wheel of the no less formidable Lancia Delta S4. In the nine special stages in which she took part before retiring due to gearbox problems, she set five third fastest times and four fourth fastest times. And not in 10-minute stages, but in ones of almost half an hour!
In the first special stage, which was 38 (!) km long, she was third fastest, having conceded only one second to Timo Salonen. Better still, Michèle Mouton relegated the Lancia of Henri Toivonen and Miki Biasion to five and eleven seconds respectively. It is therefore wrong to claim that her victories in the world championship can only be explained by a more competitive car than her rivals. rivals.”What Michèle Mouton has achieved with these Group B cars, which many consider to have been the fastest rally cars of all time, is incredible,” reports a Colombian driver Tatiana Calderon, who is supported by the FIA’s “Women in Motorsport” commission chaired by Michèle Mouton (see below). After having left top-level sport in 1986, Michèle Mouton is one of those champions who help the next generation of drivers as soon as they stop racing. This is certainly a way of giving back a little of herself to motor sport. It is indeed thanks to this that Michèle Mouton, at the age of 70 – she was born on 23 June 1951 – is still very popular. And that also in Switzerland. Peter Schmid, a Swiss-German autograph hunter, will not contradict us: “Michèle Mouton is not only a motor sport legend, she is also a very caring person. The proof is in the two autographed photos she was kind enough to send me,” he concludes.
The FIA commission “Women in Motorsport” is chaired by Michèle Mouton since 2009. One of its goals is to promote the participation of women in motor sport as drivers, officials, team managers, engineers, mechanics… Colombian driver Tatiana Calderon, development driver for the Sauber- Alfa Romeo F1 team and leader of the Richard Mille women’s team which competes in the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the World Endurance Championship, is one of the drivers who has benefited from the support of the FIA’s “Women in Motor Sport” commission. She answers our questions. One of its goals is to promote the participation of women in motor sport as drivers, officials, team managers, engineers, mechanics… Colombian driver Tatiana Calderon, development driver for the Sauber- Alfa Romeo F1 team and leader of the Richard Mille women’s team which competes in the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the World Endurance Championship, is one of the drivers who has benefited from the support of the FIA’s “Women in Motor Sport” commission. She answers our questions.
LEGENDS MAGAZINE : Tatiana Calderon, what does Michèle Mouton represent to you?
TATIANA CALDERON : She is a role model for all women in motor sport. She has been a pioneer and what she achieved when she was racing in rallying is quite a reference. She was a trailblazer and what she achieved when she raced in rally is quite a benchmark. She knows what it takes to be successful at the highest level and it is a privilege to have her at the head of the FIA commission “Women in Motorsport”.
LEGENDS MAGAZINE : How did Michèle Mouton help you?
TATIANA CALDERON : She always tried to create new opportunities and open doors for women drivers. Thanks to her, but also thanks to her commission and Richard Mille, we were able to make our debut at the 24 Hours of Le Mans last year. Together with Sophia Floersch and Beitske Visser, we are participating in the World Endurance Championship this year. I am very grateful to them.
LEGENDS MAGAZINE : Michèle Mouton is still very popular today. How do you explain this?
TATIANA CALDERON : She is a legend and everyone who is active in motor sport knows her achievements as a driver. I think, however, that everything she is currently setting up for the new generations adds another dimension to her popularity.
LEGENDS MAGAZINE : What would you say are Michèle Mouton’s greatest achievements?
TATIANA CALDERON : What she achieved as a driver with Group B cars that many people consider the fastest rally cars of all time is simply incredible. It was insane and you only have to watch the videos of the time to realize how fast and brutal these cars, in which she fought and won against the best drivers of her time, were. For just over 10 years she is contributing to setting up the FIA’s Women in Motorsport Commission and giving it a profile that I hope will enable many other women to repeat the success of the same high standard as hers. (L. M.)