Iron Dames clinch front row start at ELMS 4H of Barcelona
Updated: Aug 28
With another strong qualifying performance, Sarah Bovy put the #83 Iron Dames Ferrari on the front row of the grid for tomorrow's 4 Hours of Barcelona. Sophia Floersch will start from P10 in LMP2 – but hopes are high for for a competitive race pace.
The fourth round of the 2022 European Le Mans Series campaign is off to a good start for Iron Dames, who return to the track after claiming the historic class victory at the 24H of Spa Francorchamps.
At the 4 Hours of Barcelona, a slightly altered driver line up sees Doriane Pin joining series regulars Michelle Gatting and Sarah Bovy, after the 18-year-old Frenchwoman highly impressed in Ferrari Challenge as well as at her first 24 hour race.
On Friday, the drivers of the pink #83 Ferrari 488 GTE explored different setup solutions and were eighth fastest in the morning practice session. In the afternoon, Bovy already showed big improvements in the Bronze Test and advanced to third place.
The progression carried on into Saturday, with Gatting and Pin alternating behind the wheel for FP2, as Bovy took the helm for a shorter stint towards the end of the session.
Michelle Gatting’s 1:45.791 effort was enough for second place, which the Iron Dames retained throughout the 90-minute second practice.
It was then Sarah Bovy's turn to qualify the #83 Ferrari and the Belgian was second straight away after the first run. Dark clouds were quickly approaching the 4.675 km-long Circuit de Catalunya and all teams were eager to put in a fast lap in the opening minutes.
Oman Racing’s Ahmad Al Harthy soon claimed provisional pole, preceding Bovy by three tenths of a second. Christian Ried went third fastest in the championship-leading Proton Competition Porsche, demoting Diego Alessi (#32 Rinaldi Racing Ferrari) to fourth.
Bovy then pitted with three minutes left on the clock and the Iron Lynx crew bolted on a new set of tyres. Sarah had a fast outlap and set the fastest first sector overall, before maintaining the gap within a few thousands in sector 2 to pole-sitter Al Harthy. A slower third sector, though, meant that Bovy opted to come in the pits and settle for second.
Everyone else struggled to improve in the closing minutes and Ried held P3, as TF Sport Oman Racing claimed pole position in the GTE category after a tense duel with Sarah Bovy.
“We knew it was going to be difficult, as the Aston Martins are again very fast and well driven – well done to them." – Bovy commented after qualifying. "I’m happy because we managed to stay in front of the Porsches, that’s a nice feeling."
"Obviously with the weather being so uncertain everybody wanted to quickly do a lap, so traffic was a bit crazy. It was not easy to do a clean lap and put everything together, but at the end I’m happy with P2: we are starting on the front row and let’s see what tomorrow will bring.”
It will be another front row start for Iron Dames – in yet another remarkable performance for the all-female team that has made history in countless occasions in ELMS, FIA WEC and GT World Challenge this year.
While BOP has proven to be a bit challenging this year in ELMS, Bovy feels confident ahead of tomorrow's 4 Hours of Barcelona.
“It’s difficult to say before the race starts" – she told us. "I think it’s a bit closer than it was at the beginning of the season. I also think that our engineer did a great job because we really worked hard to have a fast car in the corners. So far it’s promising."
In LMP2, Algarve Pro Racing's Sophia Floersch and Bent Viscaal had really strong practice sessions, as they placed the #19 Oreca in second and fourth in the timing sheets.
Viscaal contested the 10-minute LMP2 qualifying, after the Dutchman had been focusing all weekend on flying lap pace, with Floersch working on long runs and race pace.
Cool Racing’s Ye Yifei led the early pace, ahead of IDEC Sport’s Paul Loup Chatin and Pietro Fittipaldi in the #43 Intereuropol Competition. Bent Viscaal improved to P6 after his first lap and climbed the order gaining three positions, before pitting with 3 minutes to go for a new set of tyres.
Everyone pitted except for provisional pole-sitter Chatin, as IDEC Sport opted to save a new set of tyres for Sunday and stopped.
After everyone completed their laps, Viscaal would end up P10, with a best lap of 1:35.620.
With Chatin in pit lane, Nicolas Jamin and Ye Yifei snatched the front row at the last attempt, with Aitken third in the Racing Team Turkey ProAm entry.
Bent Viscaal and Sophia Floersch will therefore have to build their recovery from the fifth row of the grid tomorrow – but the #19 APR LMP2 Oreca has been competitive in long runs and hopes are high for the race with very consistent pace from the two Silver drivers that showed enough pace to contest for podiums in any round so far this season.
The 4 Hours of Barcelona will go underway on Sunday 28th August at 11:45 local time.