Gabriela Jílková takes maiden LMP3 victory at Zandvoort
At only her third weekend in LMP3 machinery, Gabriela Jílková took a remarkable victory in Prototype Cup in Zandvoort, surviving a penalty and extending the gap with unmatched pace. With a podium and a win, Jílková is now fourth in the championship standings.
At only her third race weekend in LMP3 machinery, Czech racer Gabriela Jílková claimed a spectacular victory in the ADAC Prototype Cup, which was preceded on Saturday by her first podium with an already impressive third place - that finally proved her potential after an unlucky streak in the previous rounds.
Starting from the second round at Oschersleben, Jílková teamed up with Asian Le Mans Series LMP3 champion Xavier Lloveras - and the duo showed race-winning pace but couldn't unfortunately capitalize due to a technical issue while in the lead.
The fast Van Ommen Racing duo aimed to bounce back at Zandvoort - a circuit where Jílková has historically been fast, collecting breakthrough results in GT4 competitions.
Going into race one, Gabriela Jílková - at the wheel of the #5 Duqueine for the first stint of the race - had qualified in P8. Also eager to top her best result so far after two unlucky rounds was young American racer Courtney Crone, who shares the #70 Gebhardt Motorsport Ginetta with Jacob Erlbacher. Following his Q1 on Saturday, Erlbacher started from P15.
In the lead of the ever increasing pack - this weekend with a few new entries - was Oscar Tunjo (Van Ommen By Datalab) in front of Markus Pommer (Racing Experience) and Nico Göhler (BWT Mücke Motorsport).
Shortly before the end of the formation lap, the pack was shown the yellow lights and the start of the race was delayed by an extra formation lap due to a technical issue of the starting lights. The race finally got underway and Oscar Tunjio set the pace.
Erlbacher, who was behind the wheel for the #70 crew, overtook two cars and grabbed P13 after a good getaway. Meanwhile Jílková lost her P8 for a short while but was soon able to recover and quickly moved up the ladder to P6, just as race leader Oscar Tunjo dropped down to the order and eventually had to retire his car. Jacob Erlbacher gained P12 due to this incident.
The Safety Car was initially deployed, however the red flag was waved shortly after with 43 minutes left on the clock. After a five minute interruption, the restart was planned behind the Safety Car. The resumed action, though, wasn't long-lived before the next Safety Car episode.
Jílková managed to catch up to the preceding cars, overtaking them and settling in 5th position before the new neutralization happened due to a car off track.
With 33 minutes left on the lock, the race was back to green and the pit window opened, allowing the racers to pit and handing over the car to their teammates.
Gabriela Jílková came in and Xavier Lloveras took over; after their pit stop, they rejoined in 15th position, but Lloveras was able to get positions back quickly rising up to 12th place.
Meanwhile Erlbacher climbed the ladder up to P8 by extending his stint.
After the round of pit stops, Lloveras rose up to fifth thanks to some very fast laps.
Courtney Crone got the car handed over by Jacob Erlbacher and rejoined in 11th position.
Fighting hard, Lloveras would earn P4 and after another good fight against Gustavo Kiryla he secured 3rd position. Crone meanwhile fought equally hard, and it paid off, as she gained two positions, settling in P9 with 17 minutes left on the clock.
After another incident, the third safety car was out again and shortly after another red flag was waved. The race control decided to not resume the race, which ended with 13 minutes left.
After a very eventful race, Courtney Crone and Jacob Erlbacher were able to secure a great P9 for their team, in what was their best performance of the season so far. They would be promoted to eighth place following a few post-race penalties.
Gabriela Jílková and Xavier Lloveras gained a fantastic third place and thus their first podium finish of the season.
Jasper Stiksma (MRS GT-RACING) finished the race in front of Kiryla (BWT Mücke Motorsport) and Xavier Lloveras (Van Ommen By Datalab).
But it would be the second race on Sunday afternoon to bring even more excitement and notable results. After a great qualifying, Xavier Lloveras secured the pole position for the #5 Van Ommen Racing team, ahead of Valentino Catalano (DKR Engineering) and Julien Apothéloz (Van Ommen by Datalab). Courtney Crone qualified in P13.
Lloveras started strong with a good start and quickly got into the lead with a 3.3 seconds margin. His start, though, was under investigation due to a possible jump start which led to a 5 second time penalty to be deducted from the final race time.
Probably even more fuelled by the need of extending his gap, Lloveras continuously pushed the #5 Duqueine to its limits: with 43 minutes left on the clock, he had successfully opened a 6.6 seconds gap to second-placed Catalano. But for a brief moment, Lloveras was off track, in a short heart-stopping moment. Gladly, the Spaniard managed to get the car back on track, still in the lead.
Meanwhile, Courtney Crone tried her best to defend the 13th position. At 33 minutes into the race, the pit window opened and Crone was in to hand over the #70 Ginetta to Jacob Erlbacher. Lloveras waited for a few more laps and then Jílková took over for the second stint with a big task: extending the gap to secure a race win.
Back on track, Jílková soon increased the lead up to 9.974 seconds ahead of Rogalksi, finally securing the win for her team in one of the most impressive stints to date. The Czech driver kept chipping away and her pace was unmatched. Her fantastic performance gained the team a victory by the amazing margin of 11.394 seconds after the penalty was applied.
Jílková is now fourth in the championship standings, with 75 points on her tally, as the two podium finishes in Zandvoort put her back in the title hunt.
Rogalski (DKR Engineering) and Cascatau (BHK Motorsport) completed the podium positions on P2 and P3.
Jacob Erlbacher had soon gained tenth place shortly after taking over from Crone and successfully defended the position to the end of the race - in yet another top ten for the duo.
After this very exciting and successful weekend for the two female racers of the championship, the Prototype Cup Germany will be back on 7th to 9th of July at the Norisring in Germany. This will be the last race weekend before a one month break in August.