The first GCL team for 2024 has been confirmed as the Iron Dames join the equestrian world! Securing an all-female lineup for the 2024 season, the Cannes Stars powered by Iron Dames are buckling up for a turbo-charged GCL season as the team secures the first position on the starting grid.
Natalie Dean [USA], Katrin Eckermann [GER], Janne Friederike Meyer-Zimmermann [GER], Sophie Hinners [GER] and Kim Emmen [NED] will join the squad as the sixth member of the team is yet to be announced.
As two different version’s of horsepower cross over, the Iron Dames project which started in 2018 has continued to spread their wings in motorsport, achieving historic performances at the highest level of endurance racing while raising awareness and showcasing their passion all around the world.
Cannes Stars powered by Iron Dames will consist of six riders and will be the first all-female to take on the challenge of the world wide GCL team series from the 2024 season. To mark the start of this new chapter in the project's young history, Iron Dames drivers (Sarah Bovy [BEL], Rahel Frey [SUI], Michelle Gatting [DEN], Natalia Granada [ESP] and Doriane Pin [FRA]) and new Iron Dames riders were brought together at Autodromo Vallelunga. The track, situated in Campagnano di Roma, has a highly symbolic heritage since it was converted from a horse racecourse for motor racing. The event was held with the participation of the Longines Global Champions Tour and GCL ahead of the Rome leg of the 2023 championship, which the Iron Dames drivers will attend.
Deborah Mayer, Iron Dames project founder said: “ Motorsport and horse riding share the beauty of having men and women competing on equal terms. The legacy of the Iron Dames has been growing in motorsport since 2018, celebrating multiple historic breakthroughs, inspiring the younger generation and positively changing long-held perceptions of it being a male-dominated environment. We've done well to keep believing in it and we now have proof that our vision and strategy are the right ones.
The time has come to open a new page in the world of equestrian sport, which is equally exciting and full of opportunities for women. It's a very emotional day for me, with a feeling of immense pride and the excitement of a new beginning. To give birth to the first all-female team aiming to compete in the world's greatest show-jumping events is a major step forward for the Iron Dames project and is particularly close to my heart. I'm pleased and honoured that these first six talented riders are joining us for a wonderful human and sporting journey and I wish them all the best. Their dreams are now part of our dreams.”
Jan Tops president and founder of GCL explained: “This is a new chapter and it is very exciting to be part of such a professional team joining the series. What Debroha has created around the car industry is fantastic and I hope we can continue this chapter in the coming future. We share the same values for the long term and I think with the synergy with the car industry people will understand the details of our sport to win or lose within seconds but when you have passion and drive you have the results in the long term. This is an example for the world, the unique part of our sport is men and women compete at the highest level together, but a full team of women is a great example. It is a great crossover between the two sports and this is really going to grow it.”
Staying on the Cannes Stars team for 2024 Kim Emmen explained: “We are very excited to be part of the new Cannes Stars, especially as it is all female riders. It is something new and we are all strong women with good horses so it is going to be very exciting next year.”
Coming into the GCL series next year Janne Friederike Meyer-Zimmermann smiled: “This makes me very emotional, It is a great opportunity and as a group of women supporting each other we can achieve more, Being part of the Iron Dames family is a fantastic chance. I would like to thank the whole amazing team, everyone is super excited and inspired about this big picture to help woman live their dream. I wish we could be a role model to the upcoming generation, we are proud and honored to be part of the Iron Dames family and we will never give up!”
Transferring from the Paris Panthers Natalie Dean said: “We all want to win the championship one day and it would be amazing if an all-female team could pull that off.”
Young Iron Dames driver Natalia Granada added: “This project is putting together two different worlds but in a way, they are very similar and we all work towards the same goal that women can be seen at the highest level of all sports.”
Stay tuned for further 2024 team announcements.
About the Iron Dames:
Founded in 2018 by Deborah Mayer, the Iron Dames is a groundbreaking project committed to promoting and supporting women in sports where they compete in equal terms with men. The project has been launched and rapidly developed in motor sport. The Iron Dames, as an all female line-up, achieved historic victories and breakthroughs at the pinnacle of world endurance racing, including winning the 24 Hours of Spa in Gold Cup, taking pole position in WEC or competing at the famous 24 Hours of Le Mans 5 times. In other racing categories, a new generation of pink riders is also on the rise aiming to reach the highest level.
From 2023, the project extends to Equestrian sport with an elite women's show jumping team with the ambition to compete in the most prestigious FEI championships, including Longines Global Champions Tour and Global Championships League.
With a team philosophy of race to inspire, the Iron Dames stands for all passionate women, driven by dreams, willing to go beyond barriers and limits.