Winning on equal terms. The Leena Gade success story

The first woman to race engineer the winning car at the Le Mans 24 Hours speaks at the 2016 FIA Sport Conference
Leena Gade

 “If there’s one sport where men and women can compete on equal terms, then it’s motor sport. And Leena Gade, race engineer and three times winner of the Le Mans 24 Hours with Audi – in 2011, 2012 and 2014 is living proof of that. Fresh from her sixth and last participation in the most prestigious of all endurance races, the English engineer, was a speaker at the FIA Sport Conference, currently taking place in Turin. “When I was thirteen, me and my sister Teena who was only ten, began to get interested in the world of racing,” recalled Leena. “At that age, nothing seems impossible and the perseverance we always had meant I was able to get where I am today: when I was told there were no jobs available, I’d ask when there would be some. I am proud to be an example to all young women who would like to follow my career path or indeed any other in motor sport. There needs to be more of us and to achieve that, we must make people aware of what we have done.”


One interesting part of the interview that we are posting deals with the perception of barriers. “When I got the job of race engineer at Audi, I began by thinking that the engineers and mechanics would have assessed my decision differently because I’m a woman. In fact, no one ever mentioned it, either directly or indirectly and I have always been treated as just part of the team. Usually, the problem of acceptance is more of an internal perception than a real one!”


And now, what does the future hold for Leena? “I have ended my journey at Le Mans just a few days ago, after winning that race three times and taking one world title. Now I want to grow as a person and work on technical development: there is so much to do. Also, as an ambassador for the FIA Women in Motor Sport Commission, I want to continue making a contribution to ensure that the number of women in racing increases all the time.”