GT Winter Series: Gabriela Jilkova wins in Portimao round 2
Czech racing driver and well known simracer Gabriela Jilkova stormed to victory in the GT4 category of the GT Winter Series championship at Portimao, also claiming an overall podium among GT3 cars.
Gabriela Jilkova might be a popular name among sim racing enthusiast: QuickGabi - the nickname of the Czech racer - has in fact made a name for herself in the online racing community and is often featured in some of the most competitive iRacing championships.
But Jilkova is obviously also a real-life racing driver - and a very talented one - that deserves much more attention.
Given the chance to enter the GT Winter Series with historic German team Zakspeed Racing, Jilkova competed in the two opening rounds of the championship together with Robert Haub behind the wheel of the #48 Mercedes AMG GT4 in the GTS category.
Contested in mixed-weather conditions, the first weekend in Portimao was a tight battle for the leading positions in GT4, with Jilkova claiming a second place finish, 0.141 seconds behind the #930 KTM X-Bow driven by Georg Griesemann.
The Zakspeed crew went on to finish P2 and P3 in the remaining races of the season opener, with Haub taking on Race 2 and the duo swapping seats mid-race in Race 3.
In an unconventional second meeting - contested on Wedsnesday - the Portuguese venue hosted the second out of the three scheduled rounds of 2021.
In the morning qualifying sessions, Gabriela Jilkova stormed to pole position in class, which put her in fourth place overall for the first race.
In a shorter grid, Gabriela led the full 25-minute race and advanced into P3 overall on lap 3, when the #22 Porsche 911 GT3 of Jan Klingelnberg spun coming off of Turn 5.
Jilkova was over three seconds faster than any GT4 competitor - and lapped quicker than any GT3 cars as well, except for the #32 Black Falcon Mercedes of Axel Sartingen who preceded the Czech lady in P2.
After a flawless race, Jilkova crossed the finish line to take an overall podium and a dominant class victory, over 50 seconds clear of the second-placed GT4 rival.
The race was won by the only prototype car in the field, the #14 Ligier LMP3 of Javier Ibran Pardo.
It was then Robert Haub's time to shine in the second heat in the late afternoon, which again saw the #48 Zakspeed Racing Mercedes starting from the second row and GT4 class pole position. As the lights went out, the #22 Black Falcon Mercedes GT3 went into the lead, passing the #14 LMP3 Ligier.
Haub held fourth place overall and the top of the GT4 classify throughout, also lapping very closely to the #22 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car of Jan Klingelnberg in front.
Pardo re-claimed P1 in the opening stages, passing Schwerfeld in the #32 Mercedes GT3.
Never under threat despite a warning for track limits on lap 7, Jilkova's teammate Haub finished fourth and secured another GT4 class victory, leading the #666 KTM X-Bow of David Assfalg and the #18 MS Racing Porsche Cayman GT4 of Andreas Greiling across the finish line.
25-year old Jilkova, who was part of the final stage of the all-female F3 championship W Series selections in 2019, was forced to take a year off from real racetracks in 2020, where she fully focused on eSports. She would claim victory in one of her guest entries in the W Series eSports League and now has again proven to belong in a racecar.
The final round of the 2021 GT Winter Series will be contested at Motorland Aragon from 3/4 March 2021. Hopefully, the young Czech racer will be able to carry momentum and return behind the wheel of more GT4 machinery later this year.