Following in her father’s footsteps, Lia Block shares her excitement for motorsport and meeting one of idols, Michèle Mouton.

Nadia Riaz-Ahmed

Mathieu Bonnevie

8 March, 2024

The weather may have been similar in the mountains around Sanremo, back in October 1981, when French rally driver Michèle Mouton became the first woman to win a stage of the World Rally Championship. 

Now the Maritime Alps with its historic bends and climbs echo to the signature roar of the historic Audi quattro and the futuristic whir of the Audi S1 Hoonitron. It represents a coming together of technologies and personalities and the perfect opportunity to speak to Lia Block about the significance of electrification, the future of her sport and how Michèle Mouton’s inspiring legacy has influenced her personally. 

Lia, what were your initial thoughts when you heard about the Audi S1 e-tron quattro Hoonitron?
When my dad told me about the Audi S1 Hoonitron, I was quite surprised and a bit confused, since he had never worked with electric vehicles before. It was an eye-opening moment for me, because the idea of my dad wanting to create an electric drift car seemed so unexpected. However, it quickly became clear that there was something truly special about this car and the project as such. Experiencing the car first hand was a cool adventure in itself.

How so?
Well, it was a bit scary at first, because it was so different from anything I’d ever driven before. I just knew I was going to have a lot of fun bringing this futuristic car onto those roads that have so much history, especially in rally driving. The tight, challenging turns and being able to take the car around these corners and accelerate on the straightaways is a really great driving experience. The electrification allows for instant torque and power when you barely touch the paddle, which makes it easier to get the car rotated and use the power to do something like, say, donuts.

Are these unique aspects of racing the driving force behind your passion for motorsport?
I have a deep love for motorsport, primarily because I grew up surrounded by it, with my dad participating in rallies and rallycross events. It has always been an integral part of my life and choosing to pursue a career in motorsport has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I just feel incredibly fortunate to race cars and to drive rallies. 

Talking about your young career as a rally driver, how has Michèle Mouton influenced your mindset and approach to motorsport?
I wasn’t fully aware of her impact until I delved deeper into rally racing. Michèle Mouton’s story captivated me, as I saw many similarities between us, particularly starting our careers at a young age. She never viewed herself solely as a woman in motorsport – she was just another competitor. I strongly resonate with this mindset. My goal isn’t to be the best woman or girl in my motorsport field. I’m here to be the best. 

What aspect of motorsport do you most appreciate, which might not be well-known to others?
Oh, the sense of calm while racing. My mind is primarily focused on my co-driver’s notes and the road ahead. I tend to block out distractions when I’m fully concentrated on driving. This level of focus allows me to perform at my best, achieving peak performance by being entirely in tune with my co-driver, the car, and the rally stage. We call this state of mind the ‘white space’, when we’re so immersed in our zone that nothing else around us seems to matter. 

How do you see the future of motorsport, particularly with the advancements in electric vehicle technology and its potential impact on rallying?
The future of motorsport is truly fascinating, considering how far it has come, especially with pioneers like Audi who introduced the quattro all-wheel drive. I’m excited to see what’s next as more companies explore new technologies and how that will shape racing, particularly for drivers. Electrification could potentially bring a significant leap in performance, similar to the introduction of four-wheel technology in rallying. While there are still challenges to overcome, such as the range required for top-level rally events, I believe that if we can someday incorporate electrification into rally cars, it will truly revolutionise the way we drive and compete in motorsport.