W-Series: Emma Kimilainen tops Saturday in Brands Hatch
A commanding Emma Kimilainen was fastest again in the second practice session, as W-Series enters its crucial day.
As predicted, the second and last practice session of the final W-Series round at Brands Hatch was held in dry conditions, but the results remained practically unchanged: 30-year old Emma Kimilainen once again finished on top, in a session halted by two red flags.
Jamie Chadwick had briefly gained the top of the standings in the very first stages but as soon as the times started to drop, the Finnish driver improved again and remained for most of the session the only driver under the 1:23 mins mark.
"I was fastest in both rainy and dry conditions, even without the last set of new tyres, so this track really suits my driving style." - said Kimilainen. "You need something more than just technical driving, you need the guts to drive as fast as you can in the corners and that's something that is a little bit harder to copy even with the open data."
After being forced to sit out the whole first half of the season, Kimilainen came back stronger than ever: "I feel great, but it's only practice today so tomorrow my aim is to take pole position, win the race and get the fastest lap." - she concluded confidently.
As Vicky Piria told us this morning, the British iconic track of Brands Hatch proved once again to be a circuit that rewards experience: all of the five British drivers were for most of the session within the top-6, until Japanese racer Miki Koyama brought herself up to 4th. She had a very convincing FP2 after having to deal with some technical issues in the first session.
The experienced Alice Powell was the closest driver to the leader Kimilainen, grabbing second place for a little more than two tenths of a second.
Jamie Chadwick's extraordinary season kept momentum as she finished once again in the top-3: something that she very rarely gave up this season.
Dutchwoman Beitske Visser, after a dreadful morning session caused by electrical problems, came back to the first half of the classify and posted the seventh fastest time. Not enough to strip the trophy away from her friend/rival in front of the home hero, this weekend literally surrounded by the many fans and journalists.
With 16 minutes left on the clock, Sabré Cook beached her Tatuus T-318 in the escape area of Clark curve. The incident, probably helped by the heavy wind, was harmless for both driver and car but resulted in the first red flag of the session.
The American driver also had a spin at Druids towards the end of FP1, but was able to rejoin the track under her own power.
After a few minutes after the restart, another red flagged halted the on-track action when sixth-placed Fabienne Wohlwend went off at Paddock Hill Bend, luckily without hitting the barriers.
It was another positive session for Vicky Piria, who was 10th fastest after enjoying the first half of the session again in the top-5: "It's not easy when you basically have 20 minutes of red flags out of 35 minutes. But at least we did some running in the dry which is going to be useful for tomorrow." - where the Italian words right after the session.
The midfield was once again very close, with positions from 4th to 12th within a second gap.
Jessica Hawkins kept running solidly in 5th, while Sarah Moore was eighth, ahead of Marta Garcia, Piria and Sabré Cook. Tasmin Pepper was inside the top-12 in both sessions, as the South African will defend hard her final standings' position.
Gosia Rdest will have to find some more tenths to pick-up the crucial points, but the Polish driver always proved to be a fast qualifier.
The Assen reverse-grid race victory has seemingly given a boost in confidence to Megan Gilkes, who finished FP2 in P14 and showed some more progresses on pace.
Tomorrow will therefore be the decisive day for the awarding of the first historic W-Series title. Qualifying will go green at 10:30 local time, as the 20 drivers will give all their best to gain positions on the grid, in a notoriously difficult track to pass.
Ph credits: Racers-BehindTheHelmet.com