Richard Mille Racing Team has announced that it will cease operations after three years of competing in the LMP2 category.
The French squad, which was run by the Signatech team and funded by Swiss watchmaker Richard Mille, was founded in late 2019 as a platform for providing opportunities to female racing drivers but will not return next year.
It entered the 2020 European Le Mans Series and the 2021 FIA World Endurance Championship with all-female crews before morphing into a mixed-gender lineup for its WEC program this year.
The team notably ran eight-time FIA World Rally champion Sebastien Ogier at the 24 Hours of Le Mans and also supported Alpine single-make graduate Lilou Wadoux who went on to sample a Toyota GR010 Hybrid at the recent post-season rookie test.
Richard Mille Racing Team’s final race was the 8 Hours of Bahrain WEC season finale where it finished eighth with Wadoux, Paul-Loup Chatin and Charles Milesi.
“Our initial aim in creating the Richard Mille Racing Team was to make a strong impact and highlight the lack of opportunities for female drivers,” said Amanda Mille, head of the Richard Mille Racing Team project.
“With an all-female lineup, the target was to take them to the highest level of motor racing.
“Our approach and performance, in no way inferior to that of our male counterparts, challenged biases. Gradually, we developed the project by listening to our drivers.
“They all told us they would have succeeded in advancing in this world the day men asked to team up with them.
“We succeeded this year with excellent and enthusiastic drivers around our project: Lilou Wadoux, joined by Charles Milesi, Sebastien Ogier and Paul-Loup Chatin later on.”
Signatech is set to run two Oreca 07 Gibsons in the LMP2 class next year for Alpine, which is spending a season in the second-tier class to bridge the gap between its ineligible Alpine A480 Gibson LMP1 car and its ORECA-based LMDh that will debut in 2024.
Signatech team boss Philippe Sinault told Sportscar365 earlier this month that his team wanted to continue with the Richard Mille project, but at the time it was in discussions about whether it would run two or three cars next year.
“We would like to sincerely thank Richard Mille and all its teams for their confidence in this adventure,” said Sinault.
“It was a fantastic opportunity, both from a sporting and human point of view, and we are honored to have been able to take part in it.
“Women’s place in our sport is no longer in question. As our deputy CEO Giuseppe Bizzoca likes to remind me, some drivers refused to replace Katherine Legge after her injury in 2020. Today, some of them are calling us to join the program.
“It shows that women are finally being recognized as fully-fledged racers, as they should have always been.
“Lastly, we are proud to have seen our proteges improve in their career, just like Lilou, who went from the Alpine A110 Cup to the Hypercar class at the rookie tests in just one year.
“It is a strong message and bolsters the fact we have provided them with a top environment thanks to the bravery and determination of Richard Mille and his teams.”
Richard Mille Racing Team finished 10th in the ELMS standings during its debut season, which also included its best result of fifth in the opening round at Paul Ricard.
During the same year, it became the first team to field an all-female driver lineup in the LMP2 class at Le Mans with Tatiana Calderon, Sophia Floersch and Beitske Visser.
Richard Mille Racing Team then stepped up to the WEC with the same lineup and finished ninth in the LMP2 points.
It achieved the same position this year in a larger field of cars and with a new driver lineup involving rallying star Ogier and European Le Mans Series champion Milesi.
The highlight of the season was a ninth-place finish at Le Mans, after which Ogier left the program and was replaced by Chatin.
“We have reached a new level each year,” reflected Mille.
“Our performances allowed us to prove many things. We’ve been lucky to have the support of like-minded people who see the potential of female drivers, and we’ve had more and more requests to join us.
“We owe this success to Signatech and all the drivers, engineers, technicians and mechanics.”