W Series: Beitske Visser keeps momentum in Budapest practice
Beitske Visser continued her positive trend after setting her maiden pole position last week and was fastest in Hungaroring practice, preceding a brilliant Sarah Moore and Jamie Chadwick.. Tereza Babickova made her first appearance in the top-ten after a very promising session.
We are only a few days away from Jamie Chadwick's fifth consecutive win in W Series and the all-female championship is already back on track for the sixth race of the year, as the season enters its second half of the calendar. W Series makes its return to Hungaroring, outskirts of Budapest, which becomes the second circuit to host a W Series race for the second year in a row, after Silverstone. While it will be familiar territory for a few drivers, rookies will tackle for the first time the tight and twisty 4.381 km track, where passing is tough and qualifying is crucial. The PUMA teammates are especially aiming high in Hungary, for what can somehow be considered their home race: historically, Finnish drivers have always enjoyed huge support in Budapest, with many fans making the trip from the Scandinavian country and Emma Kimilanein will try to maximize her speed in front of them to make up for an unlucky first half of the season. Similarly, Czech driver Tereza Babickova races in neighboring Hungary for the first time, in her rookie season after a remarkable karting career. When the green flag officially opened the W Series weekend, Bruna Tomaselli set the early pace - as the Brazilian returns to the location of one of her best weekends last year. The session was marked by countless track limits warnings and drivers spent the first half of the 30 minute practice to explore the limits of the track - resulting in an avalanche of deleted lap times. Jessica Hawkins was briefly on top of the leaderboard, but her times quickly disappeared and, after four warnings, she received a 5 minute black flag which meant that she remained stationary in the pit lane until the final runs. Jamie Chadwick and last week's pole sitter Beitske Visser were again among the protagonists and both alternated in first place. They were joined by Nerea Marti and Emma Kimilainen - who steadily ran within the top five - as well as CortDAO teammates Marta Garcia and Fabienne Wohlwend, who had a battling race at Le Castellet and are likely to carry momentum in Hungary. Times started to drop again after drivers returned to the pits for set up adjustments midway through the session. The classification, though, mostly remained unchanged amidst the track limits-fest that saw drivers like Abbi Pulling and Belén Garcia struggling to even put a lap in. Visser led Chadwick, Kimilainen and Marti with 5 minutes left on the clock, when Sarah Moore climbed the order and joined the top five: the British racer was one of the few to consistently improve in the final minutes, even amidst tyre degradation concerns. Moore briefly gained the top spot, before her lap was deleted. Jamie Chadwick and Emma Kimilainen only went out on track again in the final minutes, but they could not demote Beitske Visser from first place, as the Dutchwoman put the sectors together and improved with 2 minutes to go. Kimilainen had to scrap her final attempt as she spun at Turn 1 while avoiding the slower Racing X car of Bruna Tomaselli ahead. She rejoined without damage, but with a flatspotted set of tyres. With a brilliant final lap, Sarah Moore set the fastest second sector and slotted into second place, less than two tenths of a second behind Visser. Chadwick was third fastest, ahead of Emma Kimilainen and Nerea Marti who rounded out the top five. Despite the penalty and the many deleted times, Jessica Hawkins could still manage to finish sixth; Belén Garcia could also make it in the top ten and was seventh, ahead of Alice Powell and Fabienne Wohlwend. Tereza Babickova was the fastest of the rookies and completed FP1 in P10, having run all session around the top ten - in what has been so far a promising start for the young Czech. Marta Garcia dropped down to P11 in the final stages, while Abbie Eaton, Abbi Pulling and Bruna Tomaselli could not finish higher than P12, P13 and P14 respectively. 12 cars were within the one second gap, so everything can still change in the midfield during qualifying. Chloe Chambers, Emely de Heus, Juju Noda and Bianca Bustamante rounded out the field, as they all spent the session learning the track. Everyone will now analyze data and make the necessary adjustments before qualifying, which is scheduled for this afternoon at 19:25 local time.