W-Series: Garcia leads Chadwick in Norisring qualifying
Marta Garcia has taken her first pole position at the Norisring beating Jamie Chadwick in an incident-filled qualifying session
When the qualifying session went underway for the all-female championship W-Series on the Norisring street circuit, Emma Kimilainen took the lead of the session in the very early minutes, as the returning Finnish driver was among the first racers to put together a flying lap.
When times started to drop, it was Jessica Hawkins to post a 0:51.063 that sent her on top of the leaderboard.
Alice Powell had yet another setback when she stopped on track at the exit of turn 1 for a gearbox issue.
The red flag allowed the marshals to recover the stranded #27 Tatuus F3 car, while Brit Hawkins held the temporary pole position with 8 minutes left on the clock.
"A totally messed up weekend so far" - were Powell's words. "We had the contact in FP1 which wasn't ideal, then in FP2 there was an issue with the braking, probably a result from the contact. Wnet out in quali and the gearbox just didn't feel right, then I lost the drive. My luck needs to change".
Beitske Visser was among the drivers that could improve on a new set of tyres right before the stoppage.
Soon after the session was resumed, promoted reserve driver Vivien Keszthelyi spun on the entry of turn 5, but was able to rejoin when she managed to engage the reverse gear.
Marta Garcia went on top of the standings, as the Spanish 18-year old was the first to go under the 51 seconds mark, closely followed by friday practice pace-setter Gosia Rdest in second.
Jamie Chadwick brought herself up to P2, right before Shea Holbrook had to abandon her qualifying run due to an off into the escape road of the first corner. The American had to cut on the insidious kerb of the iconic Norisring hairpin after a technical issue.
"I thought it was just rear locking so I started to alleviate some pressure to try to get some traction back, but I quickly realized it wasn't the rear, I actually had lost steering completely." - explained Holbrook. "Obviously I overshot the corner and went straight completely, I couldn't control the car at all other than getting on the brakes".
The yellow flags deployed effectively put an end to the battle for pole: the 0:50.712 lap that had set the pace was enough for Marta Garcia to claim her first pole position. This result was a particular positive outcome for the young Spanish, as the championship battle for third sees Garcia fighting the unlucky Alice Powell.
"It all went very good, I'm so happy because yesterday it's wasn't perfect and I knew I had to do better in some places of the track and I did. Lap after lap I was faster and at the end I'm very happy for the pole position" - said Marta Garcia.
Championship leader Jamie Chadwick commented: "Pretty happy with qualy. Front row, obviously I wanted to be on pole, but considering where we were throughout the session and the few troubles we had, I'm pretty happy at least to be starting with a clear view ahead of me. So I'm looking forward to the race."
Chadwick ended her qualifying session with apparently a slightly sore left hand.
Fabienne Wohlwend spent again another session in the top three and will line up on the second row alongside Gosia Rdest.
"I had a very good sessions yesterday so I was very confident, a lot of motivation. This morning's qualifying was also very good for me, I improved lap by lap and ended P3. I just needed those two more laps to go but unfortunately we had the yellow flags in turn one for the last two minutes, so I couldn't improve anymore" - said Wohlwend. " Second row for this afternoon, we have good pace. I'll nail the start this time and will go from there and hopefully I'll bring back home another podium".
Ducth Beitske Visser was 5th fastest and preceded Jessica Hawkins in 6th.
Vicky Piria had a positive qualifying run in 7th after yesterday's disappointing FP2.
Kimilainen wasn't able to improve on her last set of fresh tyres and will start in P8.
Miki Koyama and Sabré Cook completed the top 10. with the American seemingly keeping the momentum going after scoring her first points in Misano.
Usual front-runner Tasmin Pepper will start from 11th, while Esmee Hawkey finished P15 after yesterday's FP1 accident that prevented the British driver to take part in the second practice session.
With 17 drivers in less than a second, it was again a closely fought session that will hopefully lead to another classic W-Series race.
Tune in at 16:15 local time for the 4th round of W-Series, the first street circuit race for the championship.
In Marta's words:
“Lap after lap I was faster and at the end I'm very happy for the pole position”
Ph credits: Racers-BehindTheHelmet.com