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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Marta Garcia takes maiden W Series win from pole

Marta Garcia stormed to her first W Series victory from pole position at the Norisring as championship leader Jamie Chadwick had to settle for third place.

The battles began even before qualifying had started, as W Series staged an FP2 shootout between Canadian Megan Gilkes, and the reserve drivers Vivien Keszthelyi and Sarah Bovy, to determine who would enter the race. By setting the fastest time of the three, in seventh place, Keszthelyi was given permission to race.

Garcia took pole with a time of 50.712s, with Chadwick just 0.081s behind. Fabienne Wohlwend and Gosia Rdest set the third and fourth quickest times to line up on the second row of the grid. American Sabre Cook displayed her best pace of the season, qualifying in tenth place. Emma Kimilainen, returning after injuries caused by a first-lap crash with Gilkes at Hockenheim, qualified in eighth, but felt that even more could have been possible after being caught out by a red flag.

As the lights went out, Garcia made a confident getaway and led throughout, never looking in danger of losing her lead. Beitske Visser made a decisive start to jump from fifth to second, where she remained throughout, with Chadwick and Wohlwend falling back to third and fourth respectively.

Chadwick seemed to struggle for pace in the race, coming under pressure from Wohlwend behind. However, in the closing stages, Chadwick seemed to find some hidden pace, hunting down Visser ahead but unable to find a way past.

The race was far from incident-free, with Rdest damaging her front wing on the opening lap, and Sarah Moore and Shea Holbrook both suffering damage after coming together.

Kimilainen made a solid return to the series, finishing in fifth place after coming out on top of an exciting battle with Jessica Hawkins, and challenging Wohlwend for fourth, as well as setting the fastest lap of the race, at 50.975s.

Alice Powell had a commendable drive, having fought her way back into the top eight after starting from the back due to a gearbox failure in qualifying. However, her luck continued to run dry as she suffered a fuel pump failure in the closing stages of the race and was forced to retire. Sarah Moore and Jessica Hawkins also retired from the race.

Following her maiden win, Garcia is one of four drivers still in championship contention in third place with 60 points, with Chadwick continuing to lead the standings with 83 points. Visser follows with 73 points, and Wohlwend is in fourth with 41 points.

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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.

Credit: W Series

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.

Credit: W Series

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.

Beitske Visser for International Women’s Day 2018

As part of our marking of International Women’s Day, we talked to the
promising young Dutch racer, Beitske Visser, on her impressive karting
career, her brief spell at Red Bull, her new partnership with BMW and
more.

Emily Inganni: What first got you into racing?
Beitske Visser: My father used to race in touringcars, and when I was 3 he did a 24h race in karting and I saw a little baby kart and since then I was asking for that kart. my parents found me a bit too young then but on my 5th birthday I finally got it and went directly to the track and started

EI: How did the racing community take to you as a woman? – Were you treated any differently?
BV: I have been in the racing world since I was 5 so I grew up in this world and it’s normal to me, for sure sometimes there are people thinking that I’m not as good just because I’m a girl but as soon as you show you are quick and up there they will respect you.

EI: After such a successful karting career, how did you find the transition to single seaters?
BV: There are a lot of new things you need to learn, but it’ll soon feel normal

EI: What did you learn from Red Bull and what’s it like seeing the likes of Carlos Sainz now in F1?
BV: I learned a lot there, they help you with everything you need also between the races, like physical training and simulator time

EI: You are now part of BMW’s junior programme; how does their programme differ from Red Bulls. How did it feel to win your first race for BMW in the GT4 Series last year?
BV: The main difference is that Redbull prepares you for formula 1 and BMW prepares you for GT, DTM or Formula E.
It was amazing to win in Barcelona, BMW worked very hard to prepare the GT4 and then this was the debut for the car in a race, so to win it immediately is an amazing feeling

EI: Do you have any special number that you like to race with?
BV: No, I don’t really mind the number, but I prefer not to have nr 13

EI: Was there ever a point where you thought you would have to give up racing entirely?
BV: At the end of every year there is Always some time that you don’t know what is going to happen next but I never had the feeling that I had to give up racing, I Always kept working hard to try and achieve what I wanted to race the next year

EI: What has been the best moment of your career so far?
BV: I don’t really have 1 best moment, There are quite a few moment in my career which are really good memories

EI: What’s your goal for 2018 and beyond? – Where do you want to get to?
BV: I can’t say jet what I’m driving this year but for the long term I would love to go to DTM or Formula E

EI: Finally, what advice do you have for anyone looking to start racing?
BV: Just keep enjoying what you are doing and then the speed and results will come