Michèle Mouton, born in Grasse, France, set a record that can never be broken: she was the first woman to win a round of the World Rally Championship. When she climbed onto the roof of her Audi Quattro at the end of the 1981 San Remo Rally, and opened the champagne, her victory was regarded as a sensation. A woman had conquered a World Rally Championship event, a feat previously not thought possible.
Hre first experience of rallying was when a friend entered the Tour de Corse and invited Michele to join him on a practice run. From this it was a short step to competing in the Monte Carlo Rally in 1973 as a co-driver, an event which was eventually called off due to too much snow. At this point Michele's father bought her a Group Three Renault Alpine Berlinette.
In both 1974 and 1975, Michele became the French Rally Champion, in 1976 she won the Coupe des Dames in the famous Monte Carlo Rally. Then in 1977, with then co-driver Francoise Conconi, Mouton was runner up in the European Rally Championship.
Michele spent three seasons with Fiat France before her move to Audi in 1981.
She came within one event of winning the 1982 world title for Audi, but a transmission failure and her concern for her father's illness ended her chances at the title nearing the end of the Ivory Coast rally. She narrowly lost the title to Walter Röhrl. Later, Audi sent her to conquer the Pikes Peak International Hillclimb, much to the annoyance of some of her competitors at Pikes Peak. She won the event twice, and set a new overall record for the race. Michèle is probably the most successful and internationally famous female racing driver.
Mouton contested the World Rally Championship from 1979 until 1986, but her best result was the 1982 WRC in which she scored 97 points and came second to Walter Rohrl. Her career resulted in four WRC victories and she was regularly a top five finisher. She was also the first woman to win the famous Pike's Peak race in Colorado, USA, which she won in 1985.
Since her retirement from competition, Michele has organised the annual Race of Champions in Gran Canaria, the celebrity event that is her one remaining connection with motorsport.