The current generation of World Rally Championship cars may well be the fastest in history, but there’s no denying the Group B era was the most dramatic, and Michèle Mouton was right at the heart of it.
Every rally fan will be aware of Mouton’s participation in the WRC, especially during the 1980s, but the Queen of Speed film provides totally new insight into the lady behind the wheel.
Mouton is famed for her time driving for Audi, winning four rallies along the way, but this film goes beyond that. It explores every aspect of her career, right from the beginning, becoming a co-driver from the inception of the WRC, before ending up behind the wheel after her father purchased her an Alpine.
The heart of the story focuses on Mouton’s time at Audi. How could it not? It was that part of her career that made her a global rallying star, and the film focuses on every one of her Audi years.
Mouton is open and candid throughout the film, explaining how events unfolded from her perspective. It shines a whole new light on what it was like for Mouton, working with one of rallying’s greatest teams at the time, breaking boundaries that had never been achieved before.
Of course, Mouton didn’t have it easy in her career. In a male-dominated sport, she didn’t receive the same level of respect and admiration from her male counterparts as they would have for each other. But she didn’t let that faze her, and when she started beating her rivals and they began to question how it was possible, it left her with an even greater satisfaction.
With a heavy orchestra playing in the background, the rallies play out through the film, creating a real sense of jeopardy and drama.
Assisted by incredible in-car shots, Queen of Speed intensifies the stories of individual rallies, explaining how Mouton won certain events, such as her first WRC victory on Rally Sanremo.
It’s exciting, it’s vibrant and it hooks you in. You might already know the result, and yet you are still left questioning how the rally panned out. The film is well executed and inspiring, and it splendidly showcases a career like no other and perfectly does it justice.
It doesn’t portray Mouton’s career to be entirely perfect – it wasn’t, but also it doesn’t paint it to be a story of a driver constantly against the odds until success hit. It has got the perfect balance of creating an enthralling documentary, whilst remaining completely true to the events.
One of the most interesting aspects is that we don’t just hear from Mouton. A number of her rivals, including Ari Vatanen and Walter Röhrl, detail what it was like racing and at times losing against her. Along with views from several journalists, including DirtFish’s own David Evans, it provides a well-rounded view as to how Mouton was perceived from the outside.
Mouton also explains how she coped with the tragic death of her father, who tirelessly supported her career, as she competed on the Ivory Coast Rally. It was the penultimate event of the 1982 season, in which she could have been champion had she won the rally, and she competed without making anyone aware of her loss.
But we won’t give you any spoilers as to how that went, we’ll let the documentary tell that story.
Queen of Speed is punchy, it’s exciting and eloquently reviews a career of one of motorsport’s most inspiring and pioneering drivers. It’s definitely not to be missed.