Megan Gilkes took an unlikely victory via a photo finish in the reversed-grid non-championship W Series race at Assen.
The grid was set from the points standings in reverse, putting teenager Gilkes on pole. Despite having never finished higher than 14th, and being dropped by W Series for the previous round at the Norisring, she held off pressure throughout for a hard-deserved win.
A strong start meant she was unchallenged at the beginning of the race, and built up a gap of 1.3 seconds up front as Sarah Bovy and Sabre Cook, from eighth on the grid, battle for second place.
Her lead was cut back just after half-distance when Shea Holbrook and Vivien Keszthelyi both span in the frantic battling behind. The latter was able to get going, but Holbrook was beached in the gravel and a safety car was required.
Bovy immediately attacked Gilkes at the restart, leading both to run wide and be dragged into a four-way battle for the lead through the first corners. Gilkes emerged once again in the lead, with Cook reclaiming second from Boy. Just behind was Jessica Hawkins, while Alice Powell had risen from 17th on the grid to lead the fight for fifth.
The safety car was quickly back out when Bovy punted Gosia Rdest into a spin at Turn 5, and Fabienne Wohlwend joined her a few second later. This brought Powell onto the back of the lead battle, having passed Bovy at the chicane to move into third the lap before the safety car returned.
While Hawkins attacked Gilkes on the second restart, which left the drivers with two laps to race, Powell slipped past Cook and then forced her way past Hawkins for second in the final sector of the lap when the latter made a failed pass on the leader.
Powell was on Gilkes’ gearbox down the back straight on the final lap, and managed to draw alongside through the final chicane after Gilkes overshot her entry. In the end, the pair were split by 0.003 seconds.
Title contenders Jamie Chadwick and Beitske Visser had up-and-down races from the back of the grid, with Visser briefly making it into the top 10, and the pair spent the first half of the race fighting each other. Chadwick finished eighth from 20th, while Visser ended up in 14th from 19th.
Race result (18 laps)
|2||Alice Powell||Great Britain||+0.003s|
|5||Jessica Hawkins||Great Britain||+0.715s|
|6||Tasmin Pepper||South Africa||+1.817s|
|8||Jamie Chadwick||Great Britain||+2.324s|
|10||Sarah Moore||Great Britain||+3.101s|
|14||Beitske Visser||The Netherlands||+6.085s|
|16||Esmee Hawkey||Great Britain||+6.879s|
|Fastest lap:?Cook, 1m36.059s|