Getting to know: Sarah Bovy

Three years ago, at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Sarah Bovy was ready to call it quits in motorsport. Working two jobs in an attempt to fund a hobby in which opportunities were few and far between, she approached the career crossroads.

The fork in the road.

One path would lead back to the humdrum of everyday life, back to the full-time day job: the other towards fulfilling a childhood dream.

But perhaps not even Bovy could have predicted quite where her career, while still not technically professional, was going to end up just months later. Even to this day, as part of the burgeoning, barrier-breaking Iron Dames outfit, it still feels like a very, very good dream.

“It’s kind of obvious that, without the Iron Dames project and Deborah launching this whole story, I would be at home right now and not racing at all,” Bovy confides.

“After COVID, it was pretty much over for me, I started a completely different training, and for sure my life would be completely different.

“But I am an optimistic person and I always wanted to live in motorsport, and I wanted to live the dream, but if I didn’t achieve it, I would always be happy to know that I tried, and that’s a little bit why we are here now, because I have tried everything I could.

“The email I sent to Iron Dames; I have sent hundreds of them to other teams but never got any in return.”

In the Iron Dames, run by Deborah Mayer of DC Racing Solutions and operationally by former racer and team co-founder Andrea Piccini, Bovy has returned to her roots in the House of the Bull, via a brief spell at a rival brand not far from Sant’Agata Bolognese.

Having made occasional one-off outings in the Lamborghini Super Trofeo championship following an initial discussion with Squadra Corse head of motorsport Giorgio Sanna, Bovy using her skills behind the wheel to take on the role of precision driver in video shoots and as an instructor for other drivers.

That, however, was only part of the passion Bovy had for four-wheeled machines. The dream, as it were, began in her adolescence followed by a rapid ascension from karting to cars.

“I discovered go-karting when I was already 13 years old, so it was a bit late to start a full career,” admits Bovy.

“I did just two seasons of amateur go-kart and then competition for one year, but I didn’t come from a background with a lot of money, so already at that time I was quite limited in what I could do, I would say. And then I did a selection to move into cars at 15, so it was quite an early change from karting to cars, so the transition was quick.

“I always knew that I wanted to be a racing driver, but it was clear that it would be very complicated without a lot of money, big sponsors or support from the family. But luckily enough, I always kind of managed to survive, finding a little bit of sponsorship to do a big race per year, maybe do two races a year and everything.

“And that’s how I managed to join the Lamborghini family; I met Giorgio [Sanna] at the 24 Hours of Spa and basically what I wanted was to work for Lamborghini. And he basically told me to find the budget to do a couple of races with Super Trofeo and he could see how I was driving, and let’s see.

“A week after, I met a guy who gave me some money to do Super Trofeo!”

Those outings gave Bovy the platform she needed to prove her worth and, while a full season in the one-make championship always evaded her, it caught the eye of one future boss.

“The funny story is that I didn’t really know [Iron Lynx co-founder] Andrea [Piccini] before, but he had seen me on some Lamborghini events before, we knew the faces, and when I got in touch with him,” says Bovy.

“I didn’t even know he was the team manager at Iron Lynx. And he was like: ‘Sarah Bovy, that name rings a bell, so yeah we could give it a try!’. So, the fact that I was at Lambo also had a positive influence in the fact that they gave me a shot.”

Had it not been for that, it’s likely Bovy wouldn’t be at the wheel of a Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO2 today.

And while the Belgian driver, from Liège originally but currently residing in the capital city Brussels, is registered as a Bronze driver and remains an amateur, such is the hectic programme of driving she and her fellow Iron Dames team-mates Michelle Gatting and Rahel Frey are carrying out, the approach and preparation is more akin to a professional.

“For sure, I am a far better and faster driver now than when I first joined the team,” she says. “And with the technical side of things, I think with all the pre- and post-race briefings with the engineers, I am also a more rounded driver now too.

“It’s not really my role within the team to do that sort of thing; it’s usually the pro drivers who give the most feedback, but in general I am a curious person and I like to learn more and it helps me understand the car a lot more.

“Most of the time, if you have all the drivers saying the same things, you can trust what the car is like. There are a lot of things that can affect the car, like the track conditions, the weather etc. but when you have three drivers saying the same about the car, it makes it easier for the engineers to find the right balance.”

In recent years, Bovy has been the go-to driver when it comes to qualifying, and her pace over one lap has turned heads in the paddock. It’s an area where Bovy says she has ‘improved the most over the years’ and it’s clear to see that she has taken to this pre-race ritual with aplomb.

Indeed, Bovy’s reputation as a rapid and dependable pillar of the Iron Dames squad has risen so much that she can often be seen as a ‘Am driver with a professional approach’ to her racing.

After all, it wasn’t so long ago that Bovy was plying her trade in an industry about as far from the glamorous world of motorsport as you can get.

“I had a whole life completely outside of motorsport,” explains Bovy. “I was, for a bit more than five years, a headhunter for the pharmaceutical industry so I was headhunting a lot of high-level profiles, the people who are working on the regulations for medicines and vaccines, so really, really nothing to do with motorsport. I studied marketing because I wanted to understand how to convince sponsors, but at the same time I needed to have a plan B.

“I started with Lambo when I was in my second or third year in my headhunter job, and I was lucky that this company kind of understood that my passion for racing was my ultimate target. And they let me progressively work less for them and I went part-time, until the day I basically said: ‘OK, I’m not a professional racing driver but I can manage to make a living out of the different activities around my racing and cars’. 

“And that day I stopped working, in a job that I loved. I have never been able to make a living out of racing, but I have been able to make a living out of all the little things I was doing.”

That included marketing, social media, communications and events, all stemming from her initial contact with Lamborghini that year at Spa.

Sometimes motorsport really is the smallest world, and you need to be in the right place at the right time. For Bovy, Iron Dames presented exactly this scenario, and it has led to the most rewarding of unofficial jobs.

“I saw that Iron Dames were short of a driver. The timing was quite tight but in the space of a week, it turned my life upside down. I knew it was going to be important, but I had no idea it was going to be so big to be honest, but three years later, I am part of this big project and for sure, I am a better driver than I have ever been.”

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