“This is a confidence boost” – Just after her first pole position, Emely de Heus claimed her first ever race victory in race cars after a dramatic first race in Barcelona.
What a day for Emely de Heus – her first ever pole position, then followed by her first podium – and on the highest step: the Dutchwoman in fact secured her first win after a dramatic Race 1 in Barcelona, which saw several front runners drop out of contention.
De Heus had secured her maiden pole position this morning, with a spectacular lap in Q1 that put her ahead of Léna Buhler by 0.035 of a second.
With grey clouds over the Barcelona skies, the weather held up and the drivers lined up on the grid at 3pm local time in fully dry conditions. In an inedited front row, both de Heus and Buhler were looking to grab their first ever victory after a highly promising start of the weekend. Behind them, Abbi Pulling and Hamda Al Qubaisi were eager to make up positions from the second row.
At lights out, De Heus and Buhler went side by side into the first corner – and the Swiss driver took the lead for the first time this season. A spectacular start from Bianca Bustamante didn’t bear fruit, as she almost had to lift not to collide with Marta Garcia, who also had a good start.
A driver famous for her brilliant starts, Hamda Al Qubaisi leapfrogged Abbi Pulling and moved up into third place, hunting down her MP Motorsport teammate de Heus.
Carrie Schreiner had stalled on the grid but she recovered soon from her difficult start: the German caught back the pack and passed Chong and Caceres on lap 2, then Gilkes one lap later.
Once in behind Buhler, though, De Heus continued to be fast and didn’t let the Sauber junior pull away; rather, the top two managed to open a 2 second gap to the battling Al Qubaisi and Pulling.
On lap 3, Hamda Al Qubaisi set the fastest lap but couldn’t go under the 2 second margin to the race leader, as Buhler then set the new benchmark.
Positions settled; Nerea Marti caught Jessica Edgar and made a move stick mid-way through the race for seventh, while a very fast Bianca Bustamante was trying to get ahead of her teammate Marta Garcia.
Buhler managed to put one second between her Sauber-liveried Tatuus and the MP Motorsport of Emely de Heus, just as Hamda Al Qubaisi, started to lose pace and had to keep Pulling at bay.
The British driver made a successful move on lap 10, passing Hamda for third place.
Al Qubaisi was in fact slowing down visibly and lost three more positions before making it to pitlane and eventually retiring with a gearbox issue on lap 11.
It was a particularly unfortunate DNF for Al Qubaisi, as she would have continued to gain points over Garcia with another solid podium finish.
Bustamante, meanwhile, continued to chase Garcia: the two ran on almost identical lap times – now in fourth and fifth after Al QUbaisi’s retirement – but the Filipina couldn’t find a way past her teammate, also making sure not to take unnecessary risks.
In the final laps, Buhler checked out. But, just when she was about to claim her first win in single seaters, the #7 ART GP car started to scatter oil and eventually stopped on track due to a gearbox failure with 2 laps to go, stripping Léna of her first win.
“The carter just exploded”, she told us, visibly disappointed.
Emely de Heus held on and, with a 3 second margin, she crossed the finish line securing her maiden victory in race cars.
“It means a lot to me because it’s my first podium in car racing, just after my first pole position”, Emely told us.
“I already got a lot of bad luck in the last few weekends, and I was starting to doubt myself and feeling insecure. So this is very important for me and I feel really happy, it’s a confidence boost.”
She preceded Abbi Pulling – in her second podium this year, after race 3 at Valencia – and Marta Garcia, who despite a difficult race on used tyres scored another podium and extended her championship lead by 15 points – now enjoying a 41 point gap.
“To be fair, it was good”, Marta said. “It was a hard race, because some of them had new tyres and I had to keep position. Obviously we got a bit lucky with the two problems [Léna and Hamda] had, but this can happen. So it’s very good points for the championship, now let’s see in race 2, let’s try to get some good positions.”
The 20 minute reverse grid race is set to get underway at 19:00 local time, with Nerea Marti starting from pole, ahead of Amna Al Qubaisi, Bianca Bustamante and Marta Garcia.