The second appearance for Gabriela Jílková and Célia Martin in the GT Winter Series as teammates was a full success: Quick Gabi managed to win race 1, Célia brought home a podium and, to round out the weekend, the duo were second in class in a thrilling endurance race in Valencia.
The fourth round of the 2022/23 GT Winter Series featured again a fully packed field with more than 40 cars across all classes and action was non-stop on race day. Aston Martin ProSport duo Gabriela Jílková and Célia Martin - this weekend in a different car, the #250 Vantage GT4 - thrilled the spectators with a win and two more podium finishes out of the three races scheduled on Sunday at Circuit Ricardo Tormo, Valencia.
After a practice day on Saturday, the two qualifying sessions kicked off a busy race day: a strong performance by the ProSport team resulted in pole position for the sister car of Ortmann/Sokolovskiy. Czech driver Gabriela Jílková immediately delivered and took second place in the GT4 class in Q1. Her teammate Célia Martin also highlighted the potential of this driver pairing setting the third fastest time in Q2, which would give the Frenchwoman a start from the second row in class in the second sprint race.
Quick Gabi started Race 1 from second in class on the grid, had a great launch and fought her way up into the leading position in the GT4 class; she then managed to hold position until the race was red flagged for a big crash in GT3, which stopped the racing action with around 4 minutes to go.
Axel Sartingen was battling for P2 overall with Artem Petrov and the two made heavy contact, both retiring from the race. Luckily, both drivers were not injured but the recovery of the crashed vehicles meant that the race was not resumed.
Gabriela Jílková, former overall champion in GT Winter Series in 2021, won her first race with Aston Martin machinery and with ProSport thanks to a flawless run in the first sprint race.
In Race 2, it was Célia Martin's time to defend her podium position: the French driver had agood start and, albeit she couldn't catch up with the two cars ahead of her, Jan-Philipp Springob and Nico Verdonck - who battled hard for the victory - Martin scored a valuable third place and brought home another podium for the strong all-female duo.
More than 30 cars entered the endurance feature race in the afternoon - and all classes were action packed until the chequered flag. ProSport's driver Célia Martin took the start, had a good pace and help third place, keeping up with the group ahead of her. After the driver change with 32 minutes to go, Gabriela Jílková set the pace, as soon the #250 Aston Martin was the fastest car in class.
Jílková battled for second place but, at unreachable pace, she quickly cleared Guido Dumarey. A penalty-fest hit most of the entries due to short pit stop times; Jílková dropped to third, caught up again with Dumarey and overtook the Belgian again, before he was also handed a penalty.
Amidst the penalty chaos, positions were restored and the race settled down in the final laps: the ProSport Aston Martin of Gabriela Jílková and Célia Martin crossed the finish line in second place in class, as the fast Czech and French teammates brought home the third podium of the day. With a victory, a second and a third place it was a highly successful weekend for Gabriela and Célia, at only their second weekend as a team.
"Really enjoyed the weekend, great progress and preparation as a team for the coming season", Célia Martin told us. "Three podiums in three races for Gabi and I is a good weekends work", she concluded, as the team took the advantage of the competitive GT Winter Series platform to test ahead of their next racing programme.
The next GT Winter Series round will take place from 4th to 5th March at Navarra/Spain.