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IN-FORM EMMA MAKES UP FOR LOST TIME TO PINCH POLE AT ZANDVOORT

9/3/2021
IN-FORM EMMA MAKES UP FOR LOST TIME TO PINCH POLE AT ZANDVOORT

Zandvoort, Netherlands, 3 September 2021

Emma Kimiläinen (Ecurie W, FIN) continued her fine form to grab pole position for the sixth round of the 2021 W Series season with her final lap of a dramatic qualifying session at Circuit Zandvoort.

Emma – who became the third race-winner of the season with a stunning drive through the field in the rain at the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, last weekend – posted a time of 1:34.326 on her final run on Friday in the Netherlands to beat Alice Powell (Racing X, GBR) by seven one-hundredths of a second. Emma's first pole position of the season – and the second of her W Series career – had seemed an unlikely prospect just a few hours earlier when her practice session was curtailed by a technical issue, but she responded in stunning fashion.

Defending champion Jamie Chadwick was third, two tenths of a second behind Alice who she leads by seven points at the top of the championship. Emma is third in the standings, 31 points behind Jamie, but perfectly placed to close that gap on Saturday and move into title contention with two rounds remaining after this weekend at Zandvoort where W Series is supporting Formula 1's Dutch Grand Prix.

Nerea Martí (W Series Academy Team, ESP) was fourth and reserve driver Abbi Pulling (PUMA W Series Team, GBR) fifth on just her second W Series appearance having made her debut in round three at Silverstone in July. Jessica Hawkins (Racing X, GBR) and Abbie Eaton (Ecurie W, GBR) were the other drivers to get within a second of Emma's pole position time, as Sarah Moore (Scuderia W, GBR), Belen Garcia (Scuderia W, ESP) and Miki Koyama (Sirin Racing, JPN) completed the top 10.

On a warm and bright day at the Dutch seaside resort, orange-clad fans packed the grandstands to cheer on Beitske Visser (M. Forbes Motorsport, NED), who – along with her team-mate Ayla Agren (M. Forbes Motorsport, NOR) – was declared fit for her home race having missed the previous round at the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps last weekend after being involved in a six-car incident during qualifying.

Jamie was at the top of the timing screens after six minutes of qualifying, when the session was red-flagged following Fabienne Wohlwend's (Bunker Racing, LIE) crash at turn three. The session resumed after a 12-minute delay and, after Alice briefly hit the front, Jamie became the first driver to dip into the 1:34s to reclaim the lead.

Irina Sidorkova (W Series Academy Team, RUS) – who returned to the car after missing the race in Belgium where she tested positive for COVID-19 – spun at turn eight with just under 20 minutes left, but managed to keep it out of the gravel trap and continue, though she was under investigation by the stewards for rejoining the track unsafely.

Jamie led Emma by a quarter of a second at the halfway stage, but Emma halved the deficit on her next lap before the leading pair pitted for fresh tyres. Alice went half a second quicker than Jamie who, despite improving her best time, still trailed Alice by two tenths with six minutes remaining when the session was red-flagged for a second time when Sabre Cook (Bunker Racing, USA) beached her car in the gravel at turn 12.

That resulted in a sprint to the finish with most drivers getting just two more flying laps before the chequered flag dropped. But Emma was the only member of the top three to improve, as she took her first pole position since July 2019 when she topped qualifying at another Dutch Circuit, Assen, in W Series' inaugural season.

Earlier in the day, Jamie was quickest in practice. Her best lap of 1:35.004 was three tenths of a second faster than Alice in second place and Abbie was third, a further half a second behind. Nerea, Beitske and Miki were the other drivers to get within a second of Jamie's benchmark. Emma was seventh in practice despite only completing six laps – 10 fewer than Jamie – due to a cracked stud in a track rod.

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