“Then two weeks later at the Silverstone 6-Hours we did the same thing. I started, handed over etc, and off she went like a rocket, only to cock-up the chicane at Woodcote due to fading brakes, and have to take the escape road. The Stewards should have docked her just a few seconds but they made it a whole lap penalty instead. Regardless, she then drove absolutely like a woman possessed and we won that race too. She clawed back a whole lap by dint of sheer pace and determination to be the best that day – quite remarkable...”
Five weeks later, Mrs Wilson was at Le Mans with Alain and new third driver Francois Migault and the tiny de Cadenet crew. But as she would recall: “In qualifying, after endless rain, it started to dry out. Alain set a time, François set a time, and in the closing minutes I went out, did a decent time on my second lap – and then had a big accident on my third. At the exit of the Porsche curves, on slicks, I caught a wet spot and spun. As I hit the barrier the wooden support broke and it just fell over, and launched me. The car landed on its back and I was soaked in fuel. I was conscious and unhurt, but when you’re upside down you don’t always think clearly. I was trying to turn off the ignition, thinking, does the switch go up or down? There wasn’t a mark on me, and the car was mended for the race, but the organisers ‘lost’ the decent time I’d done on my second lap. They said I hadn’t qualified, and Alain and François did the race without me.”
And the boys in their rebuilt car – which had to have all four corners replaced – finished seventh without her – but Desire Wilson had certainly made her mark – as a quick scan of the record books alone confirms.
I have come in for some stick over the “will a girl ever become the standard-setter in Formula 1” debate, because I have absolutely no doubt that the men in F1 would never let that happen. Under the G-loadings of modern Grand Prix racing I think simple physiology mitigates against a female ever achieving such primacy – in just the same way that female sprinters don’t run against males, female shot putters don’t compete against males, and as for female tennis players – ugh – over-rewarded perishing ‘Woolly Ball’...etc, etc.