Michele Mouton, the most successful and well-known female rally driver of all time, will be opening the show and driving her famous 1985 Pikes Peak Hillclimb winning 500bhp Audi S1 Sport Quattro on the Rally demonstration stage.
MEET MICHELE MOUTON
Audi Team rallying legend Michele Mouton arguably the best female rally driver of all, and certainly the equal of her illustrious Audi team-mates Hannu Mikkola, Walter Rohrl, and Stig Blomqvist will make a rare and very welcome appearance at Race Retro 2007. She will be opening the show to Saturday's visitors, and then sensationally appearing on the live action rally stage at the wheel of nothing less than her original 1985 Pikes Peak Hillclimb winning works Audi S1 Sport Quattro.
Michele's rally driving career began in 1974 at the wheel of her private Alpine-Renault. High placings in French and European International rallies came to Michele immediately and by 1977 at the wheel of a Porsche Carrera RS she took her first International win in the Rally of Spain. More success followed at the wheel of both FIAT 131 Abarth and Lancia Stratos HF rally cars as Michele established her reputation as a fearless driver of difficult machines.
The call to the new Audi Team and their revolutionary four wheel drive A1 Quattro came in 1981. After a frustrating start to her season with both mechanical and technical problems forcing retirement and exclusion in Monte Carlo, Corsica, and The Acropolis, Michele's best Audi placing was fourth in Portugal. Then putting early season problems aside Michele with co-driver Fabrizia Pons took the first outright WRC win for Audi Team, the Quattro, a 4WD car, and a female driver, on the car breaking Sanremo Rally, in effect she ushered in the 4WD era to world rallying.
For the 1982 season Michele consolidated her position at the pinnacle of World Rallying taking outright wins in Portugal, on The Acropolis, and by a huge margin from her WRC rival Walter Rohrl on Rally of Brazil but sadly crashed out on both the 1000 Lakes and Ivory Coast recovering again on The RAC to complete an Audi one-two behind her team mate Hannu Mikkola. Despite her superior number of outright wins, a more consistent Walter Rohrl took the 1982 WRC championship title by just twelve points from Michele.
With the introduction of the fearsome 'Group B' cars for 1983 Audi retained Michele's formidable services to tame their 600 bhp 4WD S1 Sport rally supercar. Despite showing phenomenal speed and mastery of the ferocious machine, the fragility of the Group B car and a number of crashes meant Michele was unable to repeat her success of the previous year.
For 1984 she drove the Audi on fewer occasions but made her first visit to Colorado, USA to drive the Audi S1 in the awesome loose surface Pikes Peak Hillclimb where she won the rally car class and finished second overall in front of several V8 single seat 'sprint' cars, a type of specialised race car that had long dominated the event.
Having made such an impact on her first visit to Pikes Peak. Michele returned again in 1985 with the works Audi S1 and this time she took total control of the 'Climb to the Clouds' leaving the 'good 'ol boys' in her dust by taking only 11 minutes 25.39 seconds for the tortuous 19.96 km twisting 157 bend unguarded gravel road, climbing from an elevation of 2866m to 4301m.
USAC star Bobby Unser whose family had virtually 'owned' the Pikes Peak record for three generations is reputed to have become quite vociferous in expressing his feelings about being beaten by a French woman in a German car. Michele's cool response is reported to have been along the lines of, 'if you have the balls you can try to race me back down as well.'
Now, twenty two years after that momentous day, Michele will once again be re-united, on the Race Retro Live Rally Stage, with the 500bhp Audi S1 that she used to win at Pikes Peak. Specially prepared for Race Retro by its current owner, Audi Quattro enthusiast John Hanlon (looking through the window). This awesome machine resplendent in its original HB sponsor colours is sure to make a sensational dash through the twisting tarmac Stoneleigh Park rally stage in the still more than capable hands of its equally legendary driver Michele Mouton.
More period video of Michele Mouton.
More period photos of Michele Mouton.
And finally, what the Audi advert said about Michele Mouton.
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