Finnish female driver Emma Kimilainen says she has unfinished business with the W Series, aiming to return to the series in 2020 in a bid to secure the championship.
The thirty-year-old from Helsinki ended the inaugural W Series championship fifth overall with a win at Assen and a podium finish at the final round at Brands Hatch. She also completed the year fifth overall in the championship, leapfrogging Lichtenstein driver Fabienne Wohlwend despite missing two rounds earlier in the season.
Kimilainen missed out at Zolder and Misano due to a first-lap crash at Hockenheim with Megan Gilkes, which re-ignited an old neck injury the Finn suffered back in 2016. She returned to the series at the Norisring and would perform a perfect weekend at Assen with pole position, fastest lap and the race win.
At the final round, Kimilainen was fastest in all practice sessions but lost out in the battle for pole position. In the race, however, Kimilainen engaged in a race-long fight with Alice Powell for the win but fell short with second place. She felt that she displayed steady pace over the race but wasn’t enough to dispatch Powell for the win.
“I actually had really good pace before the safety car, so I just managed to get Alice there and I could see that her tyres are maybe going a little bit too hot and because she was starting to slide and I was managing the tyres, and I got really close, and I’m like ‘ok now is my time’ and then there was suddenly the safety car, which was obviously a pity,” said Kimilainen
“Then Alice was blowing us away with the restart of the safety car, and it took me a little bit of time for me to catch up with her, but it’s so hard to drive under that air.
“So what happens is that you are able to catch, but then you can’t get out of the corners as fast as the person in front of you with the clean air. So usually I catch, but I couldn’t keep up with her pace after when exiting the corners.”
Pre-season W Series title favourite
Kimilainen was one of the title favourites going into the first W Series season, having shown quick pace throughout the selection phase. But her chance of challenging the title went away when her crash saw her miss two of the six rounds due to injury.
Having finished fifth overall in the drivers’ table thanks to a strong end to the season, earning her a guaranteed seat in the W Series in 2020, Kimilainen is setting her eyes on winning it all next year.
“Definitely aiming for the championship. Definitely going to do another year because I have some unfinished business here,” commented Kimilainen before giggling to herself.
“I’m going to do everything I can to win the title next year.”
The W Series has helped re-launched drivers’ careers into Motorsport. Powell, the race winner at Brands Hatch, initially didn’t race for five years before entering the series. After her race win, she managed to land a drive in the IMSA SportsCar Championship.
Kimilainen was in a similar boat to Powell, having not raced since 2017 before joining the W Series. Now with a season back racing, the Finnish driver is looking to take opportunities as well as a second year in the all-female series.
“For me, it’s about doing another year of W Series, but I also would like to look at the opportunities to maybe be in a position where being a factory driver for some manufacturer. All options open.
“It has been a great year, so I think we all have been able to show our talent here and then we will see.”