At the finish of the last special on Sunday, she couldn’t believe her eyes. With Sébastien Loeb in the seat next door, Isabelle Galmiche had just won her first world championship rally (WRC). Better still, she had just become the first woman to win a round since 1997. Almost twenty-five years!
“It’s a crazy story, I don’t know what to say. I was already super happy to come here with Seb, and then we won”, reacted the interested party on the port of Monaco on Sunday, after the success in front of Sébastien Ogier and Benjamin Veillas (Toyota). “I’ve done a lot of rallies, but like that… Even if I didn’t want to put pressure on myself, I had it anyway,” continued the 50-year-old co-driver, who since Thursday and the start of her first rally at the highest level does not let go of his smile.
“The co-driver with whom I rode the most except for Daniel”
“With this kind of car, it’s really difficult for the co-drivers. She had a lot to say all the time and she had a perfect rhythm. Of course she has a great experience in rallying in France but in the WRC, you have a lot more things to assimilate”, paid tribute to her driver after the victory.
Galmiche and Loeb have known each other for a long time, and the Frenchwoman had already accompanied the 47-year-old nine-time world champion during numerous trials. So when Loeb and Daniel Elena, his lifelong co-driver, separated, the Alsatian didn’t hesitate. “He said to me ‘Here, I have a little question to ask you. When Daniel is going to stop, do you agree to leave with me? “There it was instantaneous, yes of course! “, she replayed.
“Isabelle is the co-driver with whom I rode the most except for Daniel. So she knows my grades, we’re used to being together. She is very passionate, she is a friend and I know she will be very happy to be with me,” Loeb explained on Wednesday.
Autographs and thanks
On Sunday, when Galmiche was answering questions in the mixed zone, M-Sport boss Malcolm Wilson came to interrupt the session: “there were two stars in the team with Isabelle! “. “No no, only one star! “, resumed the one who, from this Tuesday, will be back to work as an adult match teacher, in a CFA in the Pays de Montbéliard, in Bethoncourt.
In the meantime, she signs autographs. She does not yet realize but savors, as she did in the race. Was that the key, the pleasure? “Seriously, sternly! It’s really a crazy thing like it goes fast, it goes really fast, in sensations I enjoy! I can’t stop saying thank you to Seb. Thanks again ! »
In the footsteps of Michèle Espinosi-Petit
Toyota boss, former driver Jari-Matti Latvala, also comes to congratulate her, and recalls that she is the first female co-driver to win since 1997 and the Italian Fabrizia Pons (the former partner of Michèle Mouton s imposed then with Piero Liatti).
Galmiche also follows in the footsteps of Michèle Espinosi-Petit. Known by the nickname “Biche”, she had notably won with Jean-Claude Andruet the very first round of the world rally championship in 1973. Here in Monte-Carlo. “I was told that it had been a long time since there had been any women, 1997 it’s true that it’s starting to do, so it’s cool! “, she noted.