Saturday | 12 Nov 2022

WRC's 50 Greatest Moments: Mouton makes history in Sanremo

The 1980s were exciting times for the WRC. Famous cars, famous names - and a moment of history, as Michèle Mouton broke the record books in 1981.

In Sanremo that year, on only her sixth start with the legendary Audi Quattro, Mouton clinched the first of four WRC wins alongside co-driver Fabrizia Pons - beating the likes of Henri Toivonen, Hannu Mikkola and Ari Vatanen in the process.

She was, and still is, the only woman to have taken overall victories in the FIA World Rally Championship's 50-year history. 

"I have good memories from Sanremo, of course," Mouton recalls. "It was my first win. I had tried quite hard because I was 30 seconds in front of Vatanen and he was very fast. 

"The Quattro was not easy to drive on these twisty roads around Sanremo and I just remember that I said to Fabrizia: ‘One of us will not finish the event, so I will take this stage as if it is the first one of the rally and not the last.'

"I drove exactly like that and Ari made a mistake behind me. It was a very good step, an important step for me. Of course for Audi it was a fantastic result and all the team were really happy. It was a great time."

Mouton went on to enjoy a sensational 1982 season with the team, finishing second in the drivers' championship to Germany's Walter Röhrl.

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