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Eurocup-3: Emely de Heus makes impressive debut, Blokhina continues streak of top-20

F1 Academy driver Emely de Heus made a remarkable EuroCup-3 debut at Red Bull Ring, where she finished twice in the top-15 - and battled just outside the top ten in race 1 - on her first outing in the car. Rookie Victoria Blokhina moved forward during each race and kept her uninterrupted streak of top-20s alive in the series.

Emely de Heus, GRS Team, EuroCup-3, Red Bull Ring 2024
Photo credits: EuroCup-3

Red Bull Ford Academy Programme Driver Emely de Heus made her debut in Eurocup-3 at Red Bull Ring - and did so in spectacular fashion, claiming two top-15 finishes and battling just outside the top 10 in race 1, on her return to Formula Regional machinery in over 2 years.

De Heus, who previously competed in W Series in 2022 after just one single seater season in Spanish F4, moved to F1 Academy at the championship launch in 2023, joining MP Motorsport. The then-20 year old driver earned her first pole positions as well as her maiden race victory in formulas at Circuit de Catalunya, and would claim another podium at her home race in Zandvoort.

De Heus has since then been enrolled in the Red Bull F1 Academy program and signed with MP Motorsport for a second season. The break in the F1 Academy calendar gave her the chance to get back behind the wheel last weekend, as she joined GRS Team for her first ever outing in EuroCup-3: the series is based on the Tatuus T318 Formula Regional chassis with an updated bodykit and 25kg lighter. It was launched in 2023 with the aim of providing a cost effective alternative to the FIA-sanctioned FRECA and has seen its grid developing immensely, with participation from some of the best junior teams and drivers.

At Red Bull Ring, De Heus wasn't the only female driver on the grid: Drivex racer Victoria Blokhina - previously a protagonist of the uber competitive Italian F4 championship - graduated to Formula Regional machinery for the first time this year but showed great progress over the first round at Spa Francorchamps: under extreme weather, Blokhina kept it clean and was able to make an impressive recovery in the sole Belgian race. While she was about to break into the top ten, though, the race was red flagged for a big accident and the result reverted back to the previous lap - which ended up demoting Victoria to 17th.

Nevertheless, Blokhina has often shown good skills and determination in the battles, and will be one to watch particularly in the most hectic races.

While the weekend at Spa Francorchamps was cut short by adverse weather conditions throughout the race meeting, the EuroCup-3 season resumed in Austria with an even larger grid of 26 cars - with De Heus aiming to quickly familiarize with the GRS Team machine which is usually driven by Nikola Tsolov, unavailable due to the clash with his FIA F3 commitments.

Emely used the first practice session to adapt with the car, but already made big leaps in the second session as she set the 16th fastest time, less than 1.5 seconds from the top of the timing sheets. Blokhina was P23 and P25 respectively.

Saturday was qualifying day and De Heus had a promising first session, in which she slotted into P19 for race 1 - but a setup change for Q2 didn't quite work out as expected and she found herself P21 for race 2.

Blokhina would line up from P24 and P25, as Owen Tangavelou and Christian Ho shared pole positions - and swapped places in first and second in the two sessions, ahead of Fittipaldi and Del Pino (Q1) and Del Pino and Sagrera (Q2).

Victoria Blokhina, Drivex, EuroCup-3, Red Bull Ring 2024
Photo credits: EuroCup-3
Race 1

After a big progression through the weekend, De Heus had a remarkable start and gained two positions at lights out, although she would slot back into 18th at the end of the first lap. Blockhina also moved up to P22 from 24th on the grid.

Tangavelou led Del Pino and Fittipaldi in a 1-2-3 for MP Motorsport, as the whole field battled for positions but kept it relatively clean. A wheel to wheel duel ended in Georgy Zhuravskiy going through the gravel but he could rejoin - albeit at the back of the field.

Emely de Heus passed Diego de la Torre for P16 - and the Dutchwoman significantly closed in on Nogales. An all-Drivex train saw Blokhina battling with her teammates Gilkes, Diaz, and le Gallais: Victoria passed le Gallais and Diaz and was leading the 4-car Drivex group by lap 7, now with Finley Green in her target ahead.

De Heus ran all race at a very competitive pace, showing big potential for her first time in the car: she continued to battle comfortably in the midfield, challenging Isaac Barashi and Daniel Nogales - and then picked up a position on Christian Ho when the latter went off through the gravel on lap 9.

At that point Emely stretched her legs and opened a 8 second safe margin to the cars behind while she continued to hunt down Nogales, now less than a second ahead. The Red Bull driver cleared the Drivex car on lap 14, advancing to 14th position and soon started putting pressure on her GRS teammate Barashi, who was trying to find a way past Theodor Jensen, not far from the point-scoring positions.

Blokhina meanwhile managed to break into the top-20 when Green hit trouble, and so did Diego de la Torre. A lengthy wheel-to-wheel battle between De Heus and Jensen saw Nogales coming back into the mix - and the Spaniard leapfrogged both in a double pass. When Kluss and Jensen dropped down the order, Emely de Heus continued to climb the field and, on the final lap, she had grabbed an excellent P13.

Victoria Blokhina kept it clean and brought home an equally positive P17, matching her best result from the opening round in Spa.

Emely de Heus, GRS Team, EuroCup-3, Red Bull Ring 2024
Photo credits: EuroCup-3
Race 2

In the second race, De Heus and Blokhina would have to recover from P20 and P23 respectively; Noah Lisle and Bruno del Pino fought side by side over the first lap for the lead - and it would be the MP Motorsport driver to get into first place, as Lisle also came under pressure from Sagrera.

De Heus went wide into turn 1 on the first lap but managed to hold on to 20th place; a bit further down, Blokhina lost a position to teammate Nick Gilkes.

Nevertheless, Emily soon resumed her charge up the field and overtook Diego de la Torre - and then gained one more place when Joao Diaz fell down the order; de Heus was again very competitive in the midfield and chased le Gallais, half a second ahead, but lost out to de la Torre again in the process, who made an opportunistic move stick with 12 minutes to go.

Emely stuck with this group but couldn't quite get close enough to challenge de la Torre again, although she had opened a 5 second gap to the cars behind.

Meanwhile, Blokhina managed to gain a position on lap 11 and overtook Finley Green for P23. A puncture for Kirill Smal brought out the yellow flag with 3 minutes to go as the Palou Motorsport driver parked his car at turn 8. Both de Heus and Blokhina therefore moved up one position and, with de la Torre making more progress in the midfield, de Heus had now caught up with le Gallais once again: she continued to look for a gap to pass the Drivex car, now a handful of tenths ahead.

Blokhina was also making good progress and she finally grabbed the top-20, trialling behind her teammate Nick Gilkes.

At the end of 18 laps, Bruno del Pino took a commanding victory, ahead of Christian Ho and Javier Sagrera, after Noah Lisle fell down the order.

Emely de Heus crossed the finish line in P17, but was promoted to 15th after post-race penalties, completing a highly encouraging Eurocup-3 debut for GRS Team.

Blokhina was P18 after battling in the pack and gaining valuable experience in her second round in the series, keeping up the unbroken streak of top-20 finishes.

EuroCup-3 will return to the track on 7-9 June at Portimao, Portugal; Victoria Blokhina will again be behind the wheel of her #21 Drivex Tatuus, while Nikola Tsolov is expected to return at GRS Team. Hopefully, Emely de Heus will get another outing in the series, having shown big potential in a much more physically demanding car compared to the F1 Academy F4 machine. Her next commitment in the all-female championship is scheduled for 22-23 June at Barcelona, home of her first win in 2023.



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