Michelle Gatting shines with two race wins in Ferrari Challenge Europe
It was the perfect weekend for Danish driver Michelle Gatting as she scored two pole positions, two fastest laps and two victories out of two races at Spielberg, in Ferrari Challenge Europe's second round.
Michelle Gatting (Scuderia Niki - Iron Lynx) came into Spielberg as the championship leader in the Trofeo Pirelli, having previously enjoyed a great weekend at the Ferrari Challenge Europe season opener in Monza. In Austria, the young Dane confirmed her great form with another brilliant performance, as she scored a perfect weekend.
The Qualifying session was a tough battle between Michelle Gatting (Scuderia Niki - Iron Lynx) and Luka Nurmi (Formula Racing) - the 17 year old Finnish rookie. The Danish lady had the better out of it and secured pole position with a lap of 1:29:629 - just 0,319 ahead of Nurmi and followed by John Wartique (FML - D2P).
Race 1 began with Nurmi overtaking Michelle Gatting at the first lap, after she had tried to defend her lead. Wartique and Matúš Výboh (Scuderia Praha) followed the leading duo.
But Michelle Gatting's fight wasn´t certainly over: she chased Nurmi, close in and regained the top of the classify on lap four coming into Turn 1. She led the race until the Safety Car made its intervention on lap 10, as Alessandro Cozzi (Formula Racing) and Arno Dahlmeyer (Scuderia Niki - Iron Lynx) made contact during their battle for position.
Nurmi had no chance further chance to attack Michelle Gatting at the restart, and the Danish driver won her second race of the season ahead of Nurmi and Wartique.
“It was a beautiful race. On lap one, I was worried about managing the brakes and decided not to take too many risks, but Luka Nurmi took advantage and passed me perhaps too easily”, recalled Michelle Gatting. But her race took a turn for the better when she managed to overtake Nurmi just few laps later. “This strategy allowed me to manage both the tyres and the brakes. The car was in good condition. I got a little nervous when the Safety Car came out, but the important thing is that we won the race in the end” - she explained.
In Quali 2, Michelle Gatting was again the fastest and scored her second pole position of the weekend ahead of Nurmi and Wartique - highlighting both her one-lap performance and consistency: "Honestly, compared to yesterday, it certainly wasn't my best lap, but I was fast enough to get pole position. We're still happy because it's another point gained in the standings", she said afterwards.
Race 2 forced again Gatting to a charge through the order: the Iron Dame - and Nurmi as well - were suprised by a bursting start from John Wartique, who advanced into the lead followed by Výboh in second.
At the restart after a Safety Car triggered by of a contact at the back of the field, Michelle was able to pass Výboh and chased Wartique, who continued to lead.
With 10 minutes left, Gatting overtook Wartique under braking on the main straight and led the race until the chequered flag to win again in Spielberg, preceding Wartique and Nurmi - who had managed to pass Výboh for the last podium spot with three minutes left on the clock.
“John really surprised me in this second race because he got off to a fantastic start and immediately went on the attack to overtake me,” Michelle said after the race.
“I’ve learnt how to deal with this kind of situation intelligently, because if you overdo it at the beginning, you pay the consequences later. I kept my calm, taking it one lap at a time and this method paid off in the end.”
It was a perfect weekend for Michelle Gatting as she claimed both pole positions, both races and scored the fastest laps in both competitions. She now leads the championship with 64 points ahead Wartique (44 points) and Nurmi (42 points).
The next race weekend will take place from 29th to 30th May at Brno/Czech Republic.