Front row start for Iron Dames at 4H of Imola
Sarah Bovy is back with a bang and puts the #83 Iron Dames Ferrari 488 GTE Evo on the front row in class for the upcoming ELMS 4 Hours of Imola.
Sarah Bovy left her mark once again, as the highly-talented Belgian conquered a front row start for Iron Dames in qualifying ahead of the 4 Hours of Imola. Bovy was forced to miss her home race in Spa Francorchamps just one week ago – having tested positive for Covid at the second round of the World Endurance Championship. Luckily, her recovery was quick and she was able to get back behind the wheel of the #83 Iron Dames Ferrari 488 GTE Evo at Circuito Enzo and Dino Ferrari, Imola, for the second round of the European Le Mans Series. Sarah was outstandingly fast at the season opener at Le Castellet and again proved her pace with an impressive qualifying on Saturday, when she was three tenths away from Iron Dames’ first pole position. Michelle Gatting had put the #83 in second place in the first practice session on Friday, while Bovy would later finish P5 in the session reserved for Bronze-rated drivers. Gatting set a 1:41.773 early on in the session, before handing over to Frey after 30 minutes of practice. The all-female trio finished seventh in GTE, but were confident for another good qualifying performance by Bovy. And the Belgian did not disappoint: she led early in the 10-minute qualifying session, before Ahmad Al Harthy (Oman Racing with TF Sport Aston Martin) managed to top her fastest lap time. Bovy pitted for new tyres with 4.30 minutes left on the clock and was able to improve slightly – but not enough to edge the fast Aston Martin. A spin by Michael Fassbender at Tosa brought out a quick yellow flag, but the track was soon clear and drivers could improve on their final attempts. Sarah Bovy significantly improved on her last run, but came three tenths short of pole position – securing a brilliant front row for tomorrow’s four hour race. “Today was good!” – Sarah told us after qualifying. “We knew it would be really really difficult to get the Aston – it’s very well driven and it’s very competitive. At the end I knew I had to push to the maximum to have a chance and so I did it!” “I’m happy with P2”, she continued. “I think we still had a little bit more in the car – but that we will never know. It’s a good position to start the race and what matters is where we finish tomorrow. We’ve focused on the race since the beginning of the week and we will try to make the best out of it.” With another stellar opening stint like at Le Castellet, Bovy has the potential to hand over the #83 pink Ferrari to teammates Michelle Gatting and Rahel Frey in a very good position for a strong result. “Rahel and Michelle showed some very good pace and I’m confident we can do a good race tomorrow” – she commented. With crowded classes in both prototypes and GTE, traffic management will be crucial – especially with the LMP3 and GTE close performances that can lead to difficult situations while in the battles. Furthermore, the nature of the Imola track might prove tricky to pass – therefore starting from the front of the grid was particularly important. “For sure here it’s more important”, Bovy said. “To be honest it would be more complex if we were starting in the middle of the pack, but now we have to focus on having a clean race, keep contact with the front and see what can happen. Strategy is going to be key.” In LMP2, Sophia Floersch went out to qualify the #19 Algarve Pro Racing’s Oreca for her first this year. The young German – who made history once again at Paul Ricard by topping her own record of best ever finish for a female racer in the series - was faster than her teammate Bent Viscaal in the second practice in the morning and had high hopes also considering the speed of the sister car, the #47 driven by Alex Peroni who topped both practice sessions. The Portuguese team, though, had a tough qualifying, hampered by traffic, as well as a small issue that prevented them from leaving the garage as planned – ultimately leading to both the cars ending up in traffic. Sophia’s laps were all influenced by heavy traffic and she eventually posted a 1:33.556 that put them in 15th place on the grid. Nevertheless, the team showed great pace in the long runs and is expected to move up the field quickly. Alessio Rovera scored AF Corse’s first pole position in LMP2, in an all Pro-Am front row of the grid: the Italian will in fact share the first row with the TDS Racing x Vaillante entry, which had already taken pole position at the season opener. The #9 Prema Oreca follows in third place, ahead of the #37 COOL Racing Oreca. The #65 Panis Racing and the #22 United Autosport prototypes will start from the third row, in fourth and fifth respectively. Malthe Jakobsen took pole in LMP3, almost half a second faster than the closest pursuer – the #4 DKR Engineering of Alvarez. They preceded the #14 Inter Europol Ligier and the United Autosport driven by Bailey Voisin. At its return on the ELMS calendar after 2016, the 4 Hours of Imola will get underway on Sunday at 11:30 local.