W Series: Jamie Chadwick clinches pole position for home race
Home hero Jamie Chadwick completes perfect day 1 at Silverstone and seals her third pole position of the season, after an exciting battle with Emma Kimilainen in the second half of the British GP qualifying.
Home hero Jamie Chadwick picked up where she left off and topped the timesheets throughout Friday at the third W Series round this year, scoring her third pole position of the season at Silverstone. The driver of the #55 Jenner Racing Tatuus had also led the pace in the morning practice session, when she preceded a British 1-2-3 within less than a tenth of a second.
In qualifying, though, it would be a last minute battle between the reigning champion and Emma Kimiläinen - as the Finn returned to the positions where she belongs after finishing fourth in the morning.
In the opening minutes, the two Puma drivers set the early pace, with Kimiläinen preceding an impressive Tereza Babickova - who held on to her second place until mid-way through the session. Many of the expected front runners, in fact, were battling with track limits and had their lap times continuously deleted: among them were Abbi Pulling and Alice Powell, who struggled to put a lap in. The Racing X driver also received a black and white flag and was only able to set her first timed lap with around 10 minutes left on the clock.
At that point, most drivers pitted to bolt on new tyres and Chadwick was soon up in the lead, followed by Abbi Pulling. Alice Powell briefly led - having set an outstanding time in the first sector - but her effort was deleted after going wide at Stowe by inches. Her Bristol Street Motors teammate Jessica Hawkins also had a great run and moved into the leading positions.
While Chadwick improved thanks to a really strong third sector, Emma Kimiläinen climbed the order and set the provisional pole by 0.022 seconds. She would further improve one lap later, despite finding traffic in the final corners.
On their final attempts, Chadwick was able to secure pole position thanks to another superlative third sector, two tenths faster than the Flying Finn.
"I kind of had to pull that lap out from somewhere", commented Chadwick. "It's a confidence circuit and I was always just a little bit under. Emma [Kimiläinen] put in a good lap and I really had to lay it on the line, and after I did that I found a bit of confidence in the car and it felt better."
"I'm happy with that lap and now I have a bit more confidence going into tomorrow's race", she continued. "I know I've got a strong group of girls behind me so I will see what I can do. You can have a proper race here and I think it might be wet. What will be will be, but I'm just happy I got a bit of confidence in that session, and I can get my head down tomorrow."
Kimiläinen followed Visser for a slipstream but couldn't improve as the chequered flag fell.
"It was a tough session as it was different from practice in the morning", Emma said.
"The wind was strong and changed the driving a lot. I couldn't do the things I did in the practice session because of the wind, but I did the most I could."
"Also, the grip level had changed so there was a lot more grip out there. We didn't change the car from practice, so the balance changed quite a lot too. We have thinking to do about the set-up of the car for tomorrow's race as the track will evolve again if it's going to be dry. But I'm happy to be on the front row as you can do what you like from there."
Visser had a great final lap and moved into fourth place and will join Abbi Pulling on the second row of the grid.
After having some more laps deleted for track limits - Alice Powell had to settle for fifth, despite being by far the fastest in the first sector.
CortDAO teammates Fabienne Wohlwend and Marta Garcia had a positive session and finished sixth and seventh - and preceded the two Scuderia W drivers Abbie Eaton and Sarah Moore.
Jessica Hawkins was briefly back in the top-5 before her best time was also cancelled - and she will therefore start from 10th on the grid. Belén Garcia and Tereza Babickova - the fastest of the rookies - were just outside the top ten, ahead of Nerea Marti.
The Spaniard was ninth in the morning practice session and will start surprisingly down the order, as she will also have to serve a 2-place grid penalty after running a red light at the end of pit lane at the end of FP1.
Chloe Chambers and Bruna Tomaselli thus gain one position, while Juju Noda, Bianca Bustamante and Emely De Heus round out the field, over two seconds adrift.
A fast and technical circuit, Silverstone offers a few passing opportunities - so everything is still to play for. Last year, Alice Powell sealed her second win on home soil, after taking her first W Series success at the 2019 finale at Brands Hatch. While two-time champion Chadwick has never won her home race before, she has shown dominant speed - and calm - in the first two race meetings.
After a quick and equally unlucky start, Kimiläinen now has another chance to cut the gap to the championship leader, while Abbi Pulling and her mentor Alice Powell are certainly going to be in the mix as well, as the British GP is expected to be an exciting one.
The race goes green on Saturday at 13:25 local time.