WEC - Sophia Floersch is Reaching New Heights | Federation Internationale de l'Automobile

WEC - Sophia Floersch is Reaching New Heights

29.10.21

On Sunday 24 October Sophia Floersch took part in the 4 Hours of Portimão, the season finale of the 2021 European Le Mans Series, racing an LMP2 Oreca 07 for Algarve Pro Racing alongside 24 Hours of Le Mans LMP2 winners Ferdinand Habsburg and Richard Bradley.  

The 20-year-old German made ELMS history after running at the sharp end of the race during her stint, battling for second place, with the trio taking third spot on the podium at the chequered flag, the first overall podium for a female driver in the long history of the leading continental endurance series and her first podium since 2017.

After her success, Sophia Floersch is now in Bahrain for the final two races of the 2021 FIA World Endurance Championship with the FIA Women in Motorsport supported no1 Richard Mille Racing Team Oreca-Gibson, where she is hoping for more success alongside Beitske Visser and Tatiana Calderon.

We caught up with Sophia just before the first track session at the Bahrain International Circuit.

 

Q: Congratulations on your achievement in Portugal, becoming the first female driver to secure an overall podium in the European Le Mans Series. It was also the first podium finish for Algarve Pro Racing.  Looking back at the race, how do you rate your own performance in the 4 Hours of Portimão?

SF: “I was really happy that I actually did the season final for Algarve Pro Racing. It was a fun weekend, a lot of driving in the heat of Portugal and it was cool to be part of the team. I did a double stint in the middle of the race; I jumped out of the car and the team was really happy with me. So, I was proud of myself, but in general, it was just good for me to see and to compare myself with different drivers and to see where I am at pace wise. So, it was an interesting weekend with a lot of cool driving.”

 

Q: You were racing with 24 Hours of Le Mans LMP2 race winners Ferdinand Habsburg and Richard Bradley for Algarve Pro Racing.  How did you get on with your teammates in what was a last-minute opportunity? 

SF: “It was kind of cool to share in a car with two Le Mans winners.  I’ve known Ferdi (Habsburg) for some years and we’ve always got along really well.  It was fun working with him as a teammate, which was actually the first time.  I didn't know Richard but he's really long in endurance racing, let's say and he has a lot of experience, which he also shared. Both of them were really open from the beginning onwards, and there was a really good atmosphere inside the team.  

“I think it all came together and we actually scored the podium. Also, we have the success for Algarve Pro Racing as well, which was the first podium for them.”

 

Q: Do you feel it is an important step in your development as a race driver to take your first endurance podium?

SF: “I mean, obviously, it's always really cool if you have podiums. My last podium was actually in F4 in 2017. So obviously, it was cool to get a podium in ELMS on such a high level racing against really good drivers and really good teams. So, it was nice to kind of know where I stand and also, I think, for other teams to know where I stand, in comparison with Le Mans winners. So, I enjoyed that one, we'll see and take it from there for next year.”

 

Q: How important has the Women in Motorsport programme with the Richard Mille Racing Team in the ELMS last season and the WEC this year been in preparing you for these types of opportunities?

SF: “I’ve spent two years in endurance racing already with Richard Mille Racing, which has given me a lot of experience in general, with traffic management, fuel management, and in general, the driving you need for endurance racing to be good. So, it has helped me a lot as I’ve learned a lot.  I wasn't a newcomer, let's say, this weekend to the ELMS. So, it’s been many important kilometres for me in my career, and obviously I am really thankful for the programme, which the FIA Woman in Motorsport commission and Richard Mille kind of made two years ago.”

 

Q: How important it is for you to inspire young girls to choose a career in motorsport, either as a driver, as an engineer or any other role in the industry… What message do you want to give them?

SF: “Well, I think it's important that at some time in many years, there's as many women in the sport as men and that it's not a male dominated sport anymore. Also, I think most important is to kind of prove that you don't have to change, you can still be a girl and woman with long blonde hair and still do what you love and race quick cars. In general, I think it's kind of changing and most important is that I think you always believe in yourself, enjoy what you do and do what you want to do. So that will be my actual message to keep believing in yourself and keep on fighting.”

 

Q: We are here in Bahrain for the final two WEC races of the 2021 season.  What are your thoughts on the track here in Bahrain?  

SF: “Bahrain is cool.  I've been here actually as my first LMP2 test ever was here two years ago. And then I had the F3 tests last year, so I know the track but looking forward to the doubleheader.  It's going to be hot for the six-hour race; it's a day race. So, it's going to be tough but I’m really looking forward to it and we'll see where we end up.”

 

Q: And what are your expectations for the two races?

SF: “In Endurance anything can happen but we'll first of all have to see how our pace is.  Then we'll try to be focusing on race pace, obviously. For the six-hour race will just be Beitske and actually Gabby Aubry will join the team. So, we'll have a guy and not just a female crew this time. Then for the eight-hour race Tatiana is going to be here as well. 

“So, we'll for sure try to close the 2021 season on a high and to finish it with a good doubleheader and yet try to enjoy everything.”

 

The 6 Hours of Bahrain is Round 5 of the 2021 FIA World Endurance Championship and will take place on Saturday 30 October.  The sixth and final round of the 2021 FIA WEC will be the 8 Hours of Bahrain and will be held on Sunday 6 November.