Emma Kimilainen clinches maiden pole in Assen
Yesterday's pace-setter Emma Kimilainen took her maiden W-Series pole position in Assen, in a session defined by two red flags.
In a mostly cloudy but dry Assen, Jamie Chadwick was the first driver to set a timed lap, before being topped by Emma Kimilainen in the early stages of the session.
As the times dropped, Kimilainen and Garcia gained the top positions of the classify, but still on a slower track compared to FP1 and FP2 times.
Esmee Hawkey briefly spun on track and then went wide at turn 8, with her car almost taking off from the impact with the outside kerb. She managed to rejoin without visible damages, but then reiterated her misstep at the same corner a few laps later.
Home hero Beitske Visser briefly took the lead with a 1:35.340, followed by Garcia, Kimilainen and Wood, who enjoyed a very competitive session and could regularly improve her first sector times.
The session was also characterized by several lap times cancellations for not respecting track limits, with among them Wood, Piria and Moore losing some of their qualifying efforts.
Wohlwend went on track for her first timed lap with only 13 minutes left on the clock, presumably for a technical issue then solved on her #5 Tatuus. Her first flying lap was nonetheless fast enough for temporary second place.
Alice Powell took the lead of the standings soon after, as the British driver posted a 1:35.155 then immediately topped by her 1:34.885.
Wohlwend damaged her front wing right flap, but continued.
Caitlin Wood briefly took second place again, before Emma Kimilainen brought herself up to provisional pole once again, signing a 1:34.758.
Jamie Chadwick took third place on her new set of tyres, merely 0.127 seconds off the Finnish driver's pace. Her closer title rival Beitske Visser couldn't do better than 4th, but while most of the drivers were about to post their times on fresh rubber, American Shea Holbrook spun at turn 10, bringing out the red flag after her car ended up stuck in the gravel trap. A disappointed Holbrook climbed from her #67 car, as she will be forced to take the start of today's race from the back of the grid.
In the meantime, Sarah Moore had managed to climb the classify with the 5th fastest time, before the red flag was waved. The British driver will however have to serve a five place grid penalty for her incident at the Norisring, when she made contact at turn one with Shea Holbrook.
The session was restarted with four minutes to the end, with Emma Kimilainen still topping the time-sheets. When the 18 cars went on track for their remaining 2 push laps, it was Vicky Piria to bring out another red flag, as her #11 Tatuus F3 car came to a stop at turn 13 with a huge cloud of smoke coming out from her engine. Piria, after having enjoyed a very positive Friday, will have to start from 12th.
This incident effectively terminated the qualifying session; Emma Kimilainen thus signed her maiden pole position with her 1:34.758 lap. Alice Powell will start alongside the Finnish racer on the front row, as the former GP3 racer finally enjoyed a trouble-free session after two unbelievably unlucky weekend.
"Pole position today, quite happy about that! I felt the whole weekend the speed" - commented Kimilainen, "it wasn't the perfect qualifying to be honest, as I got only one ok lap, but I'm happy that it reached to the pole. Now looking forward to the race, maybe it's going to be wet which is always nice for me."
Championship leader Jamie Chadwick will start 3rd, alongside rival Beitske Visser, while an impressive Caitlin Wood will take the start from 5th. Tasmin Pepper was P6 and Fabienne Wohlwend P7, right in front of last race dominator Marta Garcia. Gosia Rdest and Sarah Moore (after her penalty was applied) rounded out the top 10.
Jessica Hawkins could not repeat her yesterday's pace and finished P11, ahead of the unfortunate Vicky Piria. Koyama was P13 and will have to make up some spots in the race to gain points and defend her 6th classify position.
It was another closely fough session, with the top four in less than 2 tenths and the top 13 within one second gap. Tune in for Saturday's points paying race at 16:10 local time, for some more excting action from the (maybe wet) Assen TT racetrack.
In Emma's words:
"Of course we're pole, no points and the race is where I'm concentrating on. Let's hope that I can win it."
Ph credits: W-Series media