Despite last Tuesday’s fire having severely disrupted Formula E’s official pre-season test, the TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team still decided to use rookie Gabriela Jílková, who became the first woman to drive a Gen3 car.

Following the battery fire in the WAE (formerly Williams Advanced Engineering) garage, it was decided by Formula E that each team no longer had to use a rookie driver for three hours. For many who travelled to the Circuit Ricardo Tormo in Valencia, it meant they didn’t complete a single lap; however, Jílková was still given her opportunity to drive the Porsche 99X Electric.

The 28-year-old from the Czech Republic is an ADAC Prototype Cup LMP3 race winner but has competed in various GT4 championships throughout her career. She’s also been supporting Porsche’s Formula E efforts in the simulator.

She’s completed a significant amount of work in the simulator for the Stuttgart-based team, who were eager to reward her with an opportunity to test the actual car for her efforts. Giving Jílková the chance to drive the actual car will also support her simulator work, now that she knows “how the car feels” in real-life.

Porsche fielded Jílková in António Félix da Costa’s car last Thursday afternoon, where she completed 43 laps of the Spanish circuit on what was her debut in the all-electric series.

Reflecting on the laps she completed during the test, Jílková hailed Porsche’s car as “very special”, whilst she revealed that she got to a point where it was possible to “push to the limit”.

“I’m very happy that I got the chance at this test to drive the Formula E car on the racetrack for the first time,” Jílková said. “The Porsche 99X Electric is truly a very special car. It was an incredibly fascinating experience for me to get a better understanding of the car lap by lap and to push to the limit.”

Above: Jílková completed 43 laps last Thursday in Valencia – Credit: Simon Galloway courtesy of FIA Formula E

Porsche received a lot of praise for not letting the fire disrupt their plan to give Jílková time behind the wheel of their Gen3 challenger. The German manufacturer were one of only a few teams to still use a rookie driver, as several other sides decided against using a rookie when it was confirmed that it was no longer a mandatory requirement.

Team Principal Florian Modlinger spoke highly of Jílková after the test and explained how beneficial it is that she now knows how the car feels both in the simulator and in real-life. This will only strengthen her future work for the outfit.

“Despite the reduced time in Valencia, we decided to go ahead with a rookie session and give Gabriela the opportunity to drive the Porsche 99X Electric on the racetrack for the first time,” Modlinger said. “She got a good idea of how the car feels compared to the simulator where she’d supported us.”

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