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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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 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.

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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.