L’Richard Mille’s involvement in the automotive world takes on a new twist. Partner of events such as Le Mans Classic, Chantilly Arts & Elegance or the Rallye des Princesses, the watchmaker will participate this year in the world endurance championship in a renewed form. After having entered a female crew in the race for two seasons, the Richard Mille Racing Team, associated with the very successful Signatech team, has just put together a mixed trio of drivers.
A new challenge
“Our initial goal was to highlight the lack of opportunities for women,” explains Amanda Mille, Director brand and partnerships. Starting with a 100% female team was essential to understand our intentions, make people think and challenge prejudices. We had two great years by launching the debate with three women who have now proven themselves in an LMP2 prototype in ELMS, then in WEC. However, all the female pilots explain that they want more inclusiveness by finding their place in mixed crews. Their dream comes true when the men want to ride alongside them in the same team, and this is now our case with a trio promising a rich season in both human and sporting terms. »
This trio will be Lilou Wadoux, Charles Milesi and a certain Sébastien Ogier, who again took second place in the Monte-Carlo rally on 23 January. An important change of direction for the 38-year-old driver. “I am aware that the challenge is up, he acknowledges, but I was looking for a program that motivates me more than the choice of ease. After winning his eighth world rally championship title in November 2021, Sébastien Ogier could have continued this adventure. And aim for a ninth WRC crown. But he chose to take a new turn. “It’s been a long time since I got it into my head that endurance could be a great challenge,” he recalls. As a result, the Richard Mille Racing Team has chosen to include him in its mixed crew which will compete in the WEC world championship this year. Ogier will therefore swap his agile rally Toyota for an Oreca-Gibson LMP2. After a contested prologue in mid-March, at Sebring, in the United States, six rounds will follow until November, with a visit to Le Mans on June 11 and 12.
The desire to share
Easy to go from rally to track when you have your track record? “LMP2 is a superb category and the best way for me to reach the highest level of endurance and to progress in this discipline, he admits with humility. I am clearly a novice, but I want to have fun while gauging what is possible. And see how close I can get to the best. Although he has raced head-to-head with his co-driver Julien Ingrassia for a long time, Sébastien Ogier will drive as a team this time, which does not seem to bother him: “Each driver tends to be quite individualistic, but there comes a time, when you are lucky enough to have had a successful career, where you want to share more things. It is with two very young talents that he is about to experience these moments of sharing. Discovering the prototypes, Lilou Wadoux, 20, was the first woman to win the Alpine Elf Europa Cup, before excelling in sedans and GTs. “The walk is long, but I learned a lot in a short time, especially in areas that were unknown to me, such as downforce, refueling and driver changes,” she says. Although he is also only 20 years old, Charles Milesi already has a good track record in endurance racing: in his first season in the FIA WEC championship last year, he won three first places in LMP2, notably during the 24 Hours of Le Mans (6and in general).
An RM 67-02 “Sébastien Ogier” watch
By joining the Richard Mille Racing Team in endurance, Sébastien Ogier nevertheless remains on familiar ground. He has been wearing the brand’s colors since 2016 and wears a personalized RM 67-02 watch on his wrist. First, the colors of the French flag appear on the dial. In addition, his name appears on the back of the case of this ultra-light Carbon TPT and Quartz TPT automatic model (32 grams!) designed for top-level athletes. A category of champions in which Sébastien Ogier wants to keep his place: “I’ve always had a good ability to adapt in rallies, so we have to hope that this is also the case on the circuits! »