Chadwick crowned W Series champion as Powell takes maiden victory

All eyes were on the two championship leaders at Brands Hatch today as the first ever W Series season came to a close.

The British crowd were certainly in good spirits, waving flags and cheering on the five British drivers in the field, including the championship leader, Jamie Chadwick.

21-year-old Chadwick sat at the top of the scoreboard going into the last race, having scored two pole positions, five podiums and two victories, amounting to 98 points. Beitske Visser, Chadwick’s closest rival in the championship standings, had achieved three podiums and one victory.

Both Chadwick and Visser have fought neck and neck throughout the year which has fuelled a vast amount of anticipation and excitement going into the season finale, with their fight for the W Series crown going right down to the wire.

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Qualifying took place on Sunday morning which ended in a close battle between Chadwick and Alice Powell in the fight for pole position, with Powell initially setting the pace. Chadwick responded and set a blistering lap in the final seconds of the session, setting a laptime of 1:22.425, which placed her on pole.

Powell finished the session in P2 with Esmee Hawkey giving a stunning performance in P3, giving the home crowd something to cheer about. Chadwick’s closest rival Visser finished the session in P5 behind Emma Kimiläinen.

Chadwick had a good start as the lights went out, but Hawkey stalled in her grid box, and as a result ended up at the back of the field. Powell kept second place as Kimiläinen moved up to third, with Visser in fourth place. Fabienne Wohlwend lined up in fifth followed by Vicky Piria, Jess Hawkins, Sarah Moore, Sabre Cook and Marta Garcia rounding out the top ten.

Japanese driver Miki Koyama received a drive through penalty after parking her car over her pit box line after the formation lap, and as a result, ended up in last place. Hawkey also received a drive through penalty for stalling at the start.

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Meanwhile at the front of the pack, Powell and Kimiläinen were closing up to championship leader, the trio within half a second of each other.

Chadwick suddenly came under pressure from Powell and Kimiläinen, and in an exciting three-way scrap, Chadwick lost the lead to Powell and went down to third place ahead of Visser.

With 14 minutes remaining, Powell and Kimiläinen were running five seconds ahead of Chadwick, who was battling hard with Visser to keep her podium position.

Kimiläinen drew within 0.3 seconds of race leader Powell as yellow flags were waved when Koyama spun and stalled her car at Sterling Bend. As a result, the safety car came out and bunched up the pack, making for a thrilling restart with six minutes to go.

Powell pulled away as the safety car went back into the pits, Kimiläinen following on close behind with Chadwick and Visser scrapping for the final podium spot. Visser took third with less than three minutes remaining, and Chadwick then fell into the clutches of Fabienne Wohlwend as she seemed to lose some significant pace.

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Powell finished an absolutely flawless race to take her maiden W Series victory with Kimiläinen taking second place. Visser took the final podium spot, but all eyes were on Chadwick who crossed the line in fourth to be crowned the first ever W Series Champion. Chadwick will also receive $500,000 in prize money, with the remaining fund of $1m to be split between the other drivers.

The 2019 season has been extremely exciting and very refreshing to watch. The series sparked much controversy when it was initially announced in October last year, with many criticising it for ‘female segregation’. However, the series has triumphed beyond expectations and has promoted a new and exciting era of racing.

Women in motorsport are taking a firm step forward, and the W Series is helping female drivers’ ambitions to progress into more established series possible. In turn, it is also helping to inspire the next generation of young female racers. W Series is just the beginning of bigger and better things for women in motorsport.

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W Series: Gilkes wins by 0.03 seconds in reverse grid thriller at Assen

Sunday morning’s race ended in a nail-biting final lap showdown which saw reverse grid pole-sitter Megan Gilkes hold off the charging Alice Powell to win by just 0.03s.

The grid was based on a full reversal of the championship points, including all twenty race and reserve drivers. The race, which did not offer points, saw Megan Gilkes and Sarah Bovy start on the front row, while championship contenders Beitske Visser and Jamie Chadwick lined up 19th and 20th.

The race came down to an intense final-lap battle between Gilkes, the youngest driver in the field, and the experienced racer Powell who had overtaken her way through the field from 17th on the grid. Despite Powell’s relentless attempts to take the lead, Gilkes put up a robust defence each and every time, leading to a side-by-side finish, with Gilkes coming out on top by the smallest of margins. Sabre Cook rounded out the podium.

Credit: W Series Media

Gilkes, Bovy, and the American driver Cook, who had a great start to move from 8th to third, held their own out front for the first half of the race. Shea Holbrook, who had started third, struggled for pace and fell down the order, eventually spinning and bringing out the safety car. At the restart, Gilkes came under pressure from Bovy in second, but managed to stay in front.

Alice Powell was among the early movers, jumping from 17th to 9th by the second lap, and refusing to stop there, continuing to climb the order until the very end. Emma Kimilainen also put in a commendable drive, finishing 5th from 15th on the grid and battling for a podium in the process.

Lap 4 saw championship rivals Visser and Chadwick battling over 14th position, with Visser coming out on top, and Chadwick then falling back behind Fabienne Wohlwend. Undeterred, Chadwick was able to battle her way through to finish 8th, while a poor getaway in a safety car restart meant Visser had to settle for 14th.

The race saw two safety car periods, with Gosia Rdest and Shea Holbrook failing to make the finish.

Featured image: W Series Media

Kimilainen wins at Assen as W Series title battle heats up

Emma Kimilainen won from pole after a close battle with Alice Powell, who led much of the race, as championship rivals Jamie Chadwick and Beitske Visser fought for third place.

In her second race back after injuries kept her out of action earlier in the season, Kimilainen took pole in Saturday morning’s qualifying session with a time of 1:34.758. 

Powell set the second fastest time, despite having the same car that had suffered a number of issues last time out at the Norisring, due to a rule that meant, while normally drivers swap cars at each round, she had to keep the same car going into this weekend.

Championship leader Chadwick put in the third best time, with her closest title rival and local favourite Visser joining her on the second row of the grid.

Further back on the grid, Norisring winner Marta Garcia and Lichtenstein’s Fabienne Wohlwend qualified 7th and 8th. Meanwhile, Vicky Piria lined up 12th after suffering a fiery failure, cutting her qualifying session short.

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As the lights went out for the start of Saturday’s championship race, Kimilainen made a sluggish start, handing Powell the lead, and almost allowing a charging Chadwick through. Meanwhile, Visser dropped to fifth behind Caitlin Wood. Further back, Garcia tapped the rear of Tasmin Pepper, who then spun, making contact with Miki Koyama, bringing out the safety car on the opening lap.

After the safety car period, pole-sitter Kimilainen pressured Powell throughout the race, with Powell eventually making a small mistake and running onto the kerb with 10 minutes remaining, allowing Kimilainen past. Kimilainen then quickly built up a sizeable lead, crossing the line 5.7 seconds ahead of Powell in second.

Chadwick rounded out the podium, despite seemingly lacking in pace to Powell and Kimilainen ahead, but was able to hold off a strong challenge from title rival Visser, who finished in fourth and pulled off the move of the race, making an early decisive move to pass Wood down the inside.

Wohlwend, still in mathematical championship contention at the start of this race, is now out of the title fight after running wide and damaging her front wing, forcing her to pit. Garcia is also now out of contention after finishing in ninth.

Tomorrow’s race, which will not award points, will see an experimental reverse grid based on today’s race results. After today’s penultimate championship race, Chadwick leads with 98 points, with her sole remaining challenger Visser on 85 points going into the final round at Brands Hatch on 11th August.

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Chadwick takes second W Series win at Misano

This weekend the W Series travelled to the Misano World Circuit in Italy for the third round of the all-female world championship.

The sun was shining on Saturday morning when Liechtenstein driver Fabienne Wohlwend took pole position with a laptime of 1:33.283. Championship leader Jamie Chadwick and Dutch driver Beitske Visser slotted in behind in second and third respectively, with Alice Powell in fourth and local girl Vicky Piria in fifth. Caitlin Wood suffered a suspension failure in qualifying which meant she was demoted last place on the grid.

The stunning weather continued as the nineteen drivers lined up on the grid for the race to begin.

Wohlwend had a good start from pole despite a little over steer, however, Jamie Chadwick had a blistering start and quickly snatched the lead from Wohlwend, Visser slipping past into P2 and demoting Wohlwend into third position. On the run down into turn one, Alice Powell hit Fabienne Wohlwend which led to a front suspension failure. As a result, Powell ran into the gravel which forced out the yellow flag and the safety car.

Chadwick had a great restart when racing got underway again, quickly gaining a second advantage over Visser in P2. Koyama and Piria had a close battle in fourth and fifth, with Wohlwend quickly closing the gap behind Visser in second. Wohlwent then went wide before the start finish straight, losing a little time, but managed to close back up to the rear wing of Visser.

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Chadwick went wide which meant Visser closed right up to the British driver.
After her slight wobble, pole-sitter Fabienne Wohlwend set the fastest lap of the race, the first three drivers pulling away from the rest of the field.

Miki Koyama took to the outside to pass Vicky Piria for fourth position as Chadwick continued to set clean and consistent lap times at the front of the pack with thirteen minutes remaining, Visser and Wohlwend still fighting strongly for the win in second and third.

Sabre Cook majorly impressed having started in 15th and made her way through the field up to 9th, right in amongst the mid-field battle.

Visser was right on Chadwicks tail with eight minutes remaining, the Dutch driver thriving in the third sector, but not quite close enough to overtake the championship leader.

With five minutes remaining, Esmee Hawkey went wide and as a result, Naomi Schiff moved up to eleventh place.

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Visser made a small mistake after she locked up the front left tyre with less than 2 minutes remaining. Schiff then had a spin after catching the kerb at turn 4 and 5 before rejoining in P16 and Cook and Moore had a close fight for eighth place.

Jamie Chadwick took the win in Misano and extended her championship lead after a flawless performance. Beitske Visser finished in second place and Fabienne Wohlwend in third – her first podium in the series. Miki Koyama finished in fourth followed by Piria in fifth, Garcia in sixth, then Pepper, Moore, Cook and Keszthelyi rounding out the top ten.

Hawkey finished just outside the points in eleventh, Bovy in 12th, then Rdest, Wood and Hawkins in 15th – who was given a five second time penalty for a jump start. Shea Holbrook finished in 16th, Megan Gilkes in 17th and Naomi Schiff in last place.

The championship is certainly hotting up as we pass the halfway point. The next round will be on the 6th July at the Norisring street circuit in Germany.

Visser takes victory in chaotic second round of W Series

After another blistering lap in qualifying which landed her on pole position for a second time, Jamie Chadwick lined up at the front of the pack at Zolder this afternoon, with Beitske Visser in P2, and fellow Brit Alice Powell in P3.

Reserve drivers Vivien Keszthelyi and home-girl Sarah Bovy both made their debut appearances in Belgium today. Keszthelyi had to step in for Finn Emma Kimiläinen after she was taken ill and was advised not to race.

The race got off to a rather confusing start as yellow flags, caused by smoke pluming from the back of Sarah Bovy’s car as the rest of the pack darted away from their grid slots. The safety car was brought out to clear the stricken car.

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Amid the confusion, Dutchwoman Beitske Visser ran into turn one and took the lead from championship leader Jamie Chadwick.

With 24 minutes remaining, Emsee Hawkey and Keszthelyi made contact, resulting in both spinning off-track. Gosia Rdest also got caught up in the incident, and the safety car was deployed once again. All three were investigated for the incident, with Rdest was also sent to the stewards for an alleged jump start.

Racing got underway again with 17 minutes remaining, with Visser quickly making a gap to second-placed Chadwick.

Miki Koyama made an excellent move at the restart whilst overtaking Caitlin Wood for P8, the Australian struggling to keep position over the Japanese driver.

With 12 minutes remaining, Visser led by 1.5 seconds. Marta Garcia was put under a lot of pressure from Sarah Moore behind in P4, with Pepper and Fabienne Wohlwent fighting hard for P5. American Sabre Cook was given a drive through penalty for causing a collision, slotting into last place once she had rejoined the field.

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With two minutes remaining in the second round of the W Series championship, Alice Powell touched Jamie Chadwick whilst attempting an overtake, but managed to make the move stick and snatched P2 from her fellow Brit. Chadwick didn’t give up though, and gave Alice Powell a tough fight for the second spot on the podium. She eventually managed to snatch the position back on the final lap. The duo were 4.5 seconds behind leader Visser, who was having an impeccable race.

24-year-old Beitske Visser took an impressive victory in Zolder during a race filled with wheel-to-wheel action. Round three of the championship will commence in Italy at the Misano World Circuit on 8th June.

Chadwick takes maiden W Series victory at Hockenheim

20-year-old Brit Jamie Chadwick started from pole position in the first ever W Series race this afternoon in Hockenheim.

The 18 female drivers took to the grid in their mechanically identical Formula 3 race cars to begin the 30-minute race.

Chadwick made a good start going into turn one, but she outbraked herself at the hairpin, going wide and giving the lead to Sarah Moore.

Canadian driver Megan Gilkes and Emma Kimilainen from Finland made contact going down the straight into the hairpin, bringing the safety car out and forcing the duo to retire from the race. Fortunately, both were okay.

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As the safety car period ended, three Brits led the field: Moore, Chadwick and Alice Powell in third.

Sarah Moore went wide at turn one at the restart which gave Chadwick back her lead. Spaniard Marta Garcia made some brave moves and moved up to third position while Moore fell down to P6.

Dutch racer Beitske Visser and Fabienne Wohlwend from Liechtenstein were fighting it out for P4 as Powell went on a charge for the lead, gaining quickly on Jamie Chadwick.

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The middle of the pack were bunched up for much of the race. Japanese driver Miki Koyama was doing a superb job, progressing up to 9th from her starting position of 17th with ten minutes of the race remaining. She fought hard with Esmee Hawkey, Vicky Piria and Australian Caitlin Wood for the final points in the top ten.

With less than five minutes to go, Chadwick pulled out a comfortable gap in the lead, as Powell began to defend 2nd position from 18-year-old Garcia, the youngest driver on the grid.

Italy’s Vicky Piria dropped to P15 after having a spin and picking up a marker board in sector two before rejoining the pack.

Credit: W Series

After a difficult start, Jamie Chadwick claimed her maiden victory in the W Series, winning the maximum of 25 points and making motorsport history. Fellow Brit Alice Powell and Spain’s Marta Garcia joined her on the podium in 2nd and 3rd.

Visser finished in 4th, followed by Moore, Wohlwend, Koyama, Pepper, Rdest and Wood rounding out the top ten.

It was a thrilling first race in Hockenheim for the W Series, and hopefully, one of many more. Round two of this new and exciting series will take place on the 18th May in Zolder, Belgium.

Alice Powell for International Women’s Day 2018

Motorsport is predominately a male sport, and some people even go as far as saying a woman will never make it to Formula One. However, there are some awesome female drivers out there that are proving gender has no relevance to success in this sport. Though International Women’s Day, we are able to take the opportunity to reflect on these individuals. Bryony King spoke with Alice Powell about her career so far and what the future holds for her…

Photo: Alastair Staley/LAT Photographic.

Bryony King:  Career Highlights:
Alice Powell: I would say if I had to choose two then they would be winning the Formula Renault BARC Championship back in 2010 and racing around Monaco in GP3. It was a tough year racing in Formula Renault in 2010, as I struggled with budget throughout the year, so to come away with the title was fantastic.
Racing around Monaco is something I am sure every race driver dreams of. You could say it is not really an achievement, but it is certainly a highlight.

BK: How did your motorsport career begin?
AP: I was always interested in Motorsport, whether it was F1, bikes or rally. My Grandad took me indoor go karting after my 8th birthday and I never looked back. I then moved to outdoor karting just before I was 9.

BK: Did you suffer any discrimination whilst competing at high level?
AP: Not too much at a high level, but once I started to feature more on the news or some odd TV programme, I would get tweets from random people saying females can’t drive etc (that kind of rubbish). I really remember when I started karting that it was worse. I remember lots of karting dad’s speaking to their son’s as loud as they could saying they can’t let a girl beat them etc etc….

Photo: Daniel Kalisz/LAT Photographic.

BK: How did it feel getting large amounts of media attention whilst trying to secure the F1 test?
AP: Some of the facts weren’t correct, so that was annoying seeing some stories which were not true. However, I did not mind doing the interviews and trying to raise awareness of females in motorsport. Again, I got the odd comment from tweeters saying females cannot drive, but I think you will always get that.

BK: How did it feel when you made the decision to stop racing full time?
AP: It was not easy at all. I still hope to have some full seasons of racing in the future, however, as you know, Motorsport is just ridiculously expensive these days. It won’t stop me from giving up though. I have really enjoyed, however, doing more coaching with up and coming talent.

BK: What is it about driver coaching that you enjoy most?
AP: I really enjoy helping the drivers progress and when they are successful, you feel their success. It is great to share it with them. I have really enjoying working with drivers that I have worked with, so far.

BK: Where do you see yourself in the motorsport world on 5 years’ time?
AP:I would like to see myself driving in GT’s at some level. Formula 1 would be the dream, but I have to be realistic unfortunately. I hope to also be still coaching.