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Sarah Bovy becomes first woman to win 'Driver of the Year' award

14:39 04/01/2024

Racing driver Sarah Bovy has made Belgian sporting history by becoming the first woman to be voted "Driver of the Year" at the 2023 Royal Automobile Club Belgium (RACB) Awards.

The 34-year-old from Liège beat 35-year-old rally driver Thierry Neuville, five times runner up in the World Rally Championships, to the title.

Bovy is also world endurance vice-champion in the GTE-Am (Grand Touring Endurance-Amateur) category on the Porsche 911 RSR in the Iron Dames team, alongside Denmark’s Michelle Gatting and Switzerland’s Rahel Frey.

She was elected by a jury composed of members of the specialised racing press, RACB members and drivers, including some of the finalists, after two rounds of voting.

“I’m super-emotional,” Bovy said, telling Belgian television and radio operator RTBF that she still found her win hard to believe as she had dreamed of the trophy since she was a small girl.

"There are a bunch of trophies that I didn’t think I would win in my career and this one was high on the list. I’m very honoured. I’m surrounded by big names in motorsport. For a passionate person like me, it is the reward for 20 years of struggle and hard work.

"I am extremely proud to represent Belgium internationally and I will continue to try to do it as well as possible. I hope this will open the way for women and that it will inspire some of them,” she told RTBF.

Bovy started in motorsport in 2005 with Formula Renault 1.6 Belgium - the category containing drivers who competed in the Belgian Formula Renault 1.6 series between 2003 and 2007.

She then oriented her career towards touring and GT cars. She notably competed in the BTCS (Belgian Touring Car Series) and BRCC (Belgian Racing Car Championships), and took part in the 24 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps event several times.

Since 2021, she has been included in the Iron Dames programme, whose aim is to form all-female endurance crews.

Last year, she won her category of the Eight Hours of Bahrain in the FIA WEC and came second, a little ahead of Neuville, in the 2023 World Rally Championship.

Now, she told RTBF she just wants to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans – billed as the biggest motor racing championship in the world.

Other titles at the RACB Awards include an honorary mention given to Vanessa Maes, general director of the Spa Grand Prix company promoting the Belgian Formula 1 Grand Prix.

Photo: Kvytical/Wikimedia. Licensed under Creative Commons

Written by Liz Newmark