Michèle Mouton was the first, and remains the only, woman to have won a round of the FIA World Rally Championship. The Frenchwoman claimed victory in four World Championship rallies in the 1980s and was Vice FIA World Rally Champion in 1982.
Michèle was born in Grasse, France, and took up rallying aged 22, initially as a co-driver until her father bought her her first rally car and she turned her hand to driving. Success was quite quick and by the age of 25 Michèle was competing professionally. Victories in rounds of the FIA European Rally Championship followed, as well as the runner-up slot in the series, and in 1981 she became the first woman to win a round of the FIA World Rally Championship. Pitted against some of the biggest names in the sport, Michèle powered the iconic Audi Quattro to a historic victory on the San Remo Rally. The following year, still competing with the factory Audi team, she claimed World Championship victories in Portugal, Greece and Brazil, finishing runner-up to Walter Röhrl in the 1982 FIA World Rally Championship and being instrumental in helping Audi to secure its first world title.
In 1985 Michèle took up the challenge of the legendary Pike’s Peak, again in the Quattro. Here, in Colorado, USA, she set a new outright record up the hill, on gravel, and became the first and only woman to win the event.
A move to Peugeot in 1986 saw Michèle win the German Rally Championship, becoming the first female driver to win a major series in rallying. Soon after the ban on Group B rally cars, Michèle retired from competition. Aside from her rallying exploits, Michèle has also contested Le Mans and won the Prototype 2L category in 1975.
Back in 1988, she co-founded the annual international motor sport event, the Race of Champions, and Michèle now has an active role at the FIA working as the Safety Delegate for the FIA World Rally Championship. She has been President of the FIA Women in Motorsport Commission since its creation in 2009 and was awarded the rank of Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur by French President Nicolas Sarkozy in 2011. She is the first female member of the World Motor Sport Council and, since 2019, an IOC member for the Women in Sport Commission.