The 20th Rallye des Princesses Richard Mille departed Paris on June 1st for five days of adventure through 1,700 kilometers of French countryside. The sun had barely risen behind the famous column gracing the Place Vendôme as the 91 crews prepared to embark on a first stage of 303 kilometers, with 14 highly technical regularity zones, on their way to Beauval. Aurora Straus, the young American driver and partner of the brand, slid behind the wheel of the N°1 car, a red Porsche 356, one of eight Porsches sporting Richard Mille’s livery and dedicated to special guests. The 20-year-old Straus is a familiar figure on motorsport tracks Stateside, where she has competed in the IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge for the past three years.
“Throughout the rally, I was impressed by the prowess and dedication of so many women. The rally is extremely competitive — many of these women have been participating in regularity events for decades,” Straus said. “What has left the largest impression on me, by far, are the remarkable women I met along the way. The experiences of women are very similar across male-dominated fields, from racing to business and luxury. Part of what Richard Mille and I espouse is deliberately changing the narrative of women in these fields, and promoting women who love adventure and competition.”
From the fields around Orléans to the châteaux of the Loire valley, the Zoo de Beauval marked the end of the first day’s itinerary. The second day included country roads destined for Vichy, the celebrated thermal spa. From Vichy through the Rhone valley to Aix-les-Bains, the crews were treated to sunshine and the Mistral in equal measure. Next, the teams ascended more than 1,000 meters into the Alps to traverse the Grand Colombier Pass. The following day was the longest stage of the entire race: More than 400 kilometers in length, including four passes, and the storied Route Napoléon into Provence. During the final day of the rally, just two seconds distinguished the top two crews in the general rankings. At the finish line, in Saint-Tropez, Carole Gratzmuller achieved her fifth Princess victory while her co-driver, Elisa Noémie Laurent, celebrated her third. A triumphal ovation awaited the 200 Princesses as the last mechanical roars were heard.
“We could not have imagined a more wonderful week with which to celebrate the 20th year of the Rallye des Princesses Richard Mille,” said Viviane Zaniroli, the rally’s organizer. The weather was just perfect, the race was tight up to the finish line, and we have two magnificent winners who perfectly embody what this sporting challenge is all about. It’s a rally for women on par with the most famous of men’s events.”
The 21st edition of Rallye des Princesses Richard Mille will take place June 6-11, 2020.