As the 2023 FIA World Endurance Championship drew to a close in Bahrain, the Iron Dames made the headlines by becoming the first all-female team to record a victory in a FIA world championship. Away from the headlines, there are many women without whom the FIA WEC simply wouldn’t function. Elise Bauquel is one of those unsung heroes of the pitlane.
She may not be seen giving interviews or lifting trophies, but Elise Bauquel is a vital cog in the Hertz Team Jota Porsche Hypercar programme. She has a number of different responsibilities, including making sure the driver changes on the team’s Porsche 963 run smoothly.
“I am also in charge of bodywork and building new panels,” Bauquel said, after WEC-Magazin caught up with the Hertz Team Jota mechanic at the 8 Hours of Bahrain. “Alongside that, I also handle the wrapping process and make sure everything is perfect in that regard.”
Bauquel’s career in the pitlane began almost by accident, although the interest in cars and motorsport was there from an early age. After originally studying to become a mechanic designer, a friend asked if she would be join their rally service team – and Bauquel jumped at the chance.
Following that first taste of competition, Bauquel was soon searching for the next opportunity in professional motorsport. In 2007, she decided to enrol in the prestigious École de la Performance in Nogaro, where the next generation of race mechanics and engineers are trained.
Once she graduated, it wasn’t long before the teams came calling. Bauquel decided to join Hexis Racing, who were racing in the FIA GT3 European Championship with the Aston Martin DBRS9 in 2008 and 2009 and subsequently in the FIA GT1 World Championship with the Aston Martin DBR9 GT1 in 2010 and 2011, as Chief Mechanic. Her four-year stint at the French team culminated by winning the FIA GT1 World Teams’ Championship in 2011.
Next stop: Le Mans and WEC
Hexis Racing moved on to McLaren machinery for 2012 and 2013, before Bauquel moved on herself, switching to WRT in 2014 and spending the next three years working on the team’s Audi R8 LMS entries in GT3 racing. She also found work with a variety of teams for the 24 Hours of Le Mans, including United Autosports and Larbre Competition.
Once she had gathered experience with GT3 machinery and at Le Mans, Bauquel made the switch to the LMP2 class on a full-season basis in 2018 – firstly as Chief Mechanic for IDEC Sport in the European Le Mans Series and before joining JOTA for the FIA WEC’s Super Season in 2018-2019. Since then, she has never looked back, as the team continue to scale new heights in LMP2 and move into the Hypercar class with their privateer Porsche 963.
For Bauquel, gender doesn’t play any kind of role in her day-to-day activities: “There’s no difference between men and women in the garage – we are all mechanics. That’s how I see myself.”
Has it been more difficult for Bauquel to make her way up the career ladder compared to her male colleagues? “Sure, we always knew that it would be more difficult for us to make progress in motorsport as women, but it’s always been my goal to do my job as best I can. Now we are in the top category, I want to achieve as much as I can and take on these new challenges.”
Images © WEC-Magazin