24h Le Mans
1975 24 Hours of Le Mans: when Michèle Mouton had fun in the rain
In 1975, rally driver Michèle Mouton competed in the 24 Hours of Le Mans with Christine Dacremont and Marianne Hoepfner. In what was to be her only appearance at the Circuit de la Sarthe, Mouton created a splash while rivals in more powerful cars struggled in the wet conditions.
Michèle Mouton is primarily known for her rallying prowess, finishing runner-up in the 1982 drivers’ world championship with Audi. Earlier in her career, however, she competed at the 1975 24 Hours of Le Mans, finishing 21st overall with her teammates Christine Dacremont and Marianne Hoepfner, clinching the 2.0-litre prototype class title in a Moynet LM75 chassis powered by a ROC-Simca 2.0L I4 engine. It proved to be her first and last appearance in the race.
“It was Esso who masterminded the project,” Mouton recalls. “We had done some testing at Magny-Cours, but nothing in terms of aerodynamics. I’d agreed to this new experience as I must have been a bit crazy at the time! I started the race, I remember, and it began to rain. I had a lot of fun out there. My pit crew told me to stop but I carried on and passed even some of the big cars! The conditions suited me to a tee. In fact, it was as if I were rallying at Le Mans! I just relied on my rallying skills and experience. The night didn’t bother me either as I even did some long stints. The race was a completely new environment for me and extremely interesting. I enjoyed sharing the wheel with my teammates. It brings back good memories. I also loved seeing the crowd invade the circuit and the marshals’ guard of honour at the end. Ultimately, it was a unique experience. I was pushed to do more circuit racing after that, especially Formula Three, but it wasn’t my cup of tea. I loved racing alone, against the clock. My character wasn’t cut out for circuit racing,” she concludes. Today, Mouton chairs the Women & Motor Sport Commission of the FIA (Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile).
Photo: LE MANS, CIRCUIT DES 24 HEURES DU MANS. Michèle Mouton at the wheel of the Moynet LM75 in her only Le Mans appearance.