Woman Crush Wednesday - Michelle Mouton
Michelle Mouton isn't just a race car driver. She is a rally driver. She competed in Group B, probably the most daring, dangerous and controversial form of motorsport in history, travelling insane distances over entire continents at breakneck speeds in high performance test vehicles that were deemed far too powerful for the standard race circuit. She was the first woman to ever win a rally world championship.
Born in the French Riveria, on the route of the famous Monte Carlo Rally, Michelle Mouton first began ripping around in her fa
ther's Citroën 2CV when he wasn't looking. When she was 22, he bought her a 1600cc Alpine-Renault A110 to compete in her first professional rally. By the end of the season, she had won two championship titles.
In 1980, French oil company Elf came on a sponsor. Later that year, she signed a contract with Audi to be their primary completive rally driver, much to the chagrin of many men who dominated the sport. That year, she won the San Remo Rally in Italy, becoming the first women to ever win an event on the world rally stage. She would always have a female navigator in the car with her.
During the 1980's, Michelle Mouton's name would become synonymous with the Audi Quattro, the company's re
volutionary all-wheel-drive car that was born and tested in Group B rally racing by Michelle and her team. She would take home four championship rallies for Audi. In 1985, despite slippery conditions from a hail storm, Michelle Mouton broke racing legend Al Unser, Jr.’s 1982 record at the Pikes Peak Hillclimb by 13 seconds
The next year however, the era of Group B rally racing came to an end after Mouton's teammate and close friend Henri Toivonen and co-driver Sergio Cresta were burned to death in a crash at the 1986 Tour de Corse. Within hours of the crash, WRC’s governing body decided to ban Group B cars from competition, a decision that was long overdue.
As late as 2010 she was still driving in events like the Rallye du Maroc and became the first president of the FIA’s Women & Motor Sport Commission, and in 2011 was appointed to manage the FIA’s involvement in the World Rallying Championship.