Alice Powell took a home victory and her second win of the year in the W Series Silverstone round after seeing off the challenge from Fabienne Wohlwend in a race-long dogfight.
Powell started the race from pole but Wohlwend got the better start to pull alongside her. After running side by side through Abbey and Farm, Wohlwend managed to get the move complete through Village.
Wohlwend and Powell then spent the opening laps pulling away from third-placed Jamie Chadwick and the rest of the field. As they traded fastest laps, the gap between them stayed around half a second, while Chadwick fell several seconds behind the two leaders.
Wohlwend seemed to have enough to cover off Powell each time she drew closer. But on lap 10 their battle was halted when Miki Koyama broke down at Village and brought out the safety car.
At the restart, Wohlwend then struggled to get her tyres back up to temperature. She went wide through Club on the run to the start line which allowed Powell to draw up, then locked up at Vale at the end of the first green flag lap.
That error was enough for Powell to pull alongside and take the lead down the main straight. Powell then took advantage of Wohlwend’s lack of grip to pull clear by over a second in the final laps.
Powell took the win with Wohlwend in second, and Chadwick made it two British drivers on the Silverstone podium in third. Chadwick ran a fairly quiet race without the pace to keep up with Powell and Wohlwend, but with few challenges from behind either.
Emma Kimilainen came fourth ahead of Nerea Marti. Beitske Visser finished sixth after losing several places at the start from fourth on the grid. Sarah Moore was seventh ahead of W Series debutant Abbi Pulling, and Abbie Eaton and Jess Hawkins rounded out the top ten.
Powell’s victory means she now regains the championship lead from Chadwick by 6 points, while Moore stays in third albeit 18 points adrift of the front.
W Series returns in two weeks’ time at Budapest’s Hungaroring, in support of the Formula 1 Hungarian Grand Prix.
After a great start to the season with the double header at the Red Bull Ring, W Series is back competing alongside Formula 1 at the British Grand Prix weekend at Silverstone – the Home of British motor racing.
The 18 drivers will be racing the full Grand Prix circuit, hoping to one day follow in the footsteps of the Italian driver Lella Lombardi, who was the first female to compete in a Formula 1 World Championship race at Silverstone in 1975. There are 11 different countries represented on the grid, with six British drivers competing at a home race in front of almost sell out crowds.
The current standings after the first two rounds show a very dominant display from the Brits with Jamie Chadwick leading Sarah Moore by three points and Alice Powell in third just one point behind. Abbie Eaton is in 11th, but Jessica Hawkins is looking to score her first points of the season after not having a good start.
Abbi Pulling Debut
The sixth British driver is 18-year-old Abbi Pulling, who will be making her competitive debut in the W Series this weekend. Abbi was listed as a reserve driver after she did the pre-season testing in Anglesey, Wales. She will be racing for PUMA alongside Marta Garcia, and sharing the grid with her career mentor Alice Powell.
Abbi is a currently part of the British Formula 4 championship and is a two-time British Karting champion. Abbi is considered a young rising talent within motorsport, and it will be great to see what she can do in front of her home crowd.
Can Chadwick extend her lead?
Jamie Chadwick will be looking to extend her lead on the series after her dominant performance at the Austrian Grand Prix. With only eight races on the calendar for W Series each race weekend is vital for the championship.
However, she is not the only driver with race experience at Silverstone. Both of Chadwick’s nearest championship rivals have plenty of experience competing at the circuit.
This will be a great challenge for the 2019 champion as this circuit suits the racing style of Moore and Powell better than the Red Bull Ring, so she will need to bring everything in order to stay on top after the weekend is over. Chadwick has shown her ability in the past to perform well under pressure which will be an advantage to her when racing with the largest crowd expected this season.
The W Series race will be Saturday afternoon at 13:25 local time. This is going to be a weekend where all the drivers need to keep a cool head to create some really great racing.
Reigning W Series champion Jamie Chadwick kickstarted her title defence with a dominant win from pole position in the second Red Bull Ring round.
Chadwick got a dream start from pole as Beitske Visser stalled off the line from second position. She was then given another advantage as her Veloce teammate Bruna Tomaselli and Academy’s Irina Sidorkova tussled for second, allowing Chadwick to arrive at Turn 1 with a healthy lead already.
Sidorkova came out on top in the battle with Tomaselli and pulled clear of the Brazilian over the opening lap. That left Tomaselli under pressure from Emma Kimilainen, who had jumped up from sixth on the grid to join the podium fight.
Kimilainen passed Tomaselli for second on lap 2 and stuck close to the back of Sidorkova. As Chadwick pulled clear of the pair, Kimilainen kept her car consistently within a second of Sidorkova and tried to find a way past the Russian.
But despite the pressure from Kimilainen throughout the race, Sidorkova managed to close off any opportunity and finish second behind Chadwick for her first W Series podium. Kimilainen ran out of laps to make a move happen, but finished half a second behind Sidorkova in third.
As the podium trio bolted down the road, Tomaselli led a tight battle for fourth place. The Veloce driver soon had a train behind her with Sarah Moore, Nerea Marti and Abbie Eaton. Moore in particular had great pace, and had already got herself up to fifth from eighth on the grid.
Moore initially got past Tomaselli on lap 7, but was repassed and had to fend off Marti on the following lap. Moore then regrouped in the closing laps to try around the outside of Tomaselli at Turn 3 on lap 18, before finally making a move stick at Turn 4 on lap 22.
Moore and Tomaselli finished fourth and fifth, with Eaton getting ahead of Marti for sixth and her first W Series points. Alice Powell finished a disappointed eighth between Marti and Belen Garcia, after saying on the radio that she had no straight line speed.
Sabré Cook had held the final point in tenth for much of the race after recovering from a spin in qualifying that put her at the back of the grid. But her Bunker Racing teammate Fabienne Wohlwend grabbed the position in the closing laps to round out the top ten.
Chadwick’s win moves her to the top of the standings by three points from Moore, with Round 1 winner Powell another point behind in third. W Series returns in two weeks’ time at Silverstone, in support of the British Grand Prix.
Alice Powell took the first victory of the 2021 W Series season in Austria, controlling an otherwise chaotic race from pole position to the chequered flag.
Powell got a quick launch from pole to ensure she held the lead from second-placed Sarah Moore into Turn 1. Meanwhile, series rookie Belen Garcia initially lost third place to Beitske Visser at the start, but got the Dutch driver back later in the opening lap.
Reigning champion Jamie Chadwick had a good first lap as she improved from eighth on the grid to fifth place. But at Turn 1 on the second lap she was rear-ended by Jess Hawkins and spun around, falling to the back of the field.
At the front, Powell started to stretch out a one-second lead over Moore, who was coming under steady pressure from Garcia. But after setting an early fastest lap, Garcia then had a few wide moments as she tried to follow in Moore’s dirty air, and started coming under attack herself from Visser.
On lap 10, Garcia then braked too late for Turn 6 and ran through the gravel, dropping her to ninth and promoting Visser up to third. All the while, Powell was continuing to set fastest laps at the front and increase her gap over Moore to the tune of 2.5 seconds.
That gap was eliminated on lap 14 however, when Marta Garcia retired on the side of the track with a mechanical problem and brought out the safety car.
At the restart, Powell fended off Moore to maintain the lead, but Visser was spun out of third by Emma Kimilainen. Kimilainen moved up to third herself, but with a broken front wing from the collision she rapidly dropped back in the final few laps.
Fabienne Wohlwend was the first to pass, taking away third by the end of the first green flag lap. On the following lap Kimilainen was passed by B. Garcia, Hawkins and Miki Koyama, then dropped out of the points altogether when her damaged front wing detached on the final lap.
As Powell took the flag to win, Moore finished second for her first W Series podium ahead of Wohlwend in third. B. Garcia recovered from her off to take fourth place from Hawkins and Koyama, and Chadwick took advantage of the hectic final laps to climb back up to seventh. Nerea Marti, Ira Sidorkova and Gosia Rdest rounded out the points.
Round 2 of the 2021 W Series championship takes place on 2–3 July, once again at the Red Bull Ring in support of the Formula 1 Austrian Grand Prix.
UPDATE: Jess Hawkins was given a drive-through penalty, converted to a 30 second time penalty, after the race for her collision with Jamie Chadwick. The penalty drops Hawkins to 16th in the results, promoting Miki Koyama to fifth and Ayla Agren to tenth inside the points.
W Series returns this weekend for the first round of its 2021 season, at Austria’s Red Bull Ring in support of the Formula 1 Styrian Grand Prix.
More than 680 days have passed since the last W Series race at Brands Hatch in August 2019, after the 2020 season was called off because of the global pandemic. But in 2021, W Series isn’t just picking up where it left off — it’s presenting a new-look championship with plenty of changes.
The first is that W Series will be running on the F1 support bill, as was planned for part of last year. After running with the DTM paddock for its inaugural season, the championship will now feature at the Styrian, Austrian, British, Hungarian, Belgian, Dutch, US and Mexico City Grands Prix.
This will coincide with FIA super licence points being awarded to the series for the first time. W Series will now match the points given in championships like Indy Lights and Euroformula Open, with 15 for the champion down to one point for seventh place in the standings.
New teams structure for 2021
As well as the new Grand Prix weekend billing, W Series is also changing the way its cars are run for 2021. Instead of all the entries being centrally run by the series itself, as was the case in 2019, W Series has opened the championship up to external partners forming two-driver teams with control over their own liveries and sponsorship.
M. Forbes Motorsport
Puma W Series Team
W Series Academy
Three of the teams — Ecurie W, Scuderia W and W Series Academy — will still be centrally run by W Series. The cars will also still be mechanically identical, and will be operated and managed by Fine Moments and W Series Engineering.
The series will feature an unofficial teams’ championship this year, with a formal championship planned for 2022.
Chadwick back to defend her title
As W Series returns, so too does 2019 champion Jamie Chadwick. After being flagged as the early favourite for season one, Chadwick returned the hype in fine form with two wins, three poles and a podium in every race bar one.
Not only will she be aiming to stamp her authority on season two as well, Chadwick will also have the advantage of being a Williams development driver, so she’ll have had plenty of time preparing for the Spielberg track with a team that knows it well.
But Chadwick won’t have an easy run at her second title by any means. For starters, she’ll have her chief 2019 rival Beitske Visser to contend with. Visser only finished ten points behind Chadwick in season one, and like her rival never finished lower than fourth across the season.
Visser’s main focus in this year’s title campaign has to be qualifying. While Chadwick took three poles in 2019, Visser took none, so qualifying high and controlling races from the front will be key to getting the upper hand in 2021.
And that’s not all — if 2019 is anything to go by, we can expect at least a five-way championship battle with Alice Powell, Emma Kimilainen and Marta Garcia getting in the mix as well.
Together with Chadwick and Visser, this quintet of drivers took every podium position bar one last time out. But with Kimilainen missing two races due to injury, Powell suffering two retirements and chassis damage issues, and Garcia in her first year above F4 machinery, they weren’t able to weigh in on the inaugural title fight as expected. Watch for that to change this year though if they can get their seasons off to a clean start.
W Series will get underway with practice at 13:10 local time on Friday and qualifying at 16:30, and the first race of the season on Saturday at 16:30 just after F1 qualifying.
As the chequered flag fell on the second round of Extreme E’s inaugural season, the championship still had plenty of work to complete off-track.
Extreme E’s tag line “Race Without a Trace” was put into action again in Senegal, as they aimed to highlight issues surrounding ocean health, whilst leaving a positive impact on the local communities. Educating on sea level rise, plastic pollution, and rising ocean temperatures, as well as planting mangroves and engaging schools were just some of the actions Extreme E took whilst out in Dakar.
Plastic pollution is a substantial problem on the Senegalese coast so Extreme E teamed up with to.org to support the Ecozone Project based in Lac Rose. The aim of the project is to raise awareness of climate issues and mitigation strategies by involving the local communities in the creation of a healthy environment. With this knowledge, the ultimate goal is to build a sustainable economy through guidance, resources, encouraging self-sufficiency, and economic autonomy.
In June 2020, the EcoBrique Challenge was launched. 3000 children and other locals took part in a huge effort to create more than 6000 bricks from plastic waste. Roughly 80% of plastics found in oceans come from land based sources, so not only is the EcoBrique Challenge helping to build a primary school toilet and benches, but it also helps locals recycle the waste that gets washed up on their shores.
Some other infrastructure was also built. Gardens were created to allow children to engage with local farmers, as well as planting more than 600 trees. They also installed a water pump to prevent the community from needing to walk long distances and increase cleanliness, vital for keeping disease at bay.
However, Extreme E’s initiatives weren’t just limited to the EcoBrique Project. They also aim to help to.org and NGO Oceanium plant one million mangroves. So far, over 500 people have helped the team reach the half of that figure in just three weeks.The remaining number will be planted during the 2021 rainy season, and with a whopping 85% of those already in place developing into healthy mangroves, Senegal will really start to see the benefits.
Nachson Mimran, CEO and Co-founder of to.org, explains that “Mangroves are not only the most effective trees on earth for sequestering carbon, they also protect against coastal erosion and regulate soil salinity so coastal communities can farm fertile soil.” She also states that mangroves protect fish habitats, ensuring locals can get the protein their diets need.
As in AlUla, the drivers and staff also took part in a beach clean. Together the likes of Jamie Chadwick, Stephane Sarrazin and Mikaela Ahlin-Kottulinsky collected over 100 bags of waste from the Lac Rose beaches.
Extreme E raced in Senegal to highlight the issues surrounding ocean health. It is believed that half of coral reefs and a third mangroves and sea grasses have already been lost, leaving coastal communities vulnerable to erosion, storm damage, and food shortages. Vital fish stocks are teetering on a knife edge, threatening the entire food chain. Plastics, oil spills, and agrochemicals are destroying ocean habitats and affecting every animal in them. Climate change is also causing the heating of oceans, making them more acidic, melting ice, and causing the water to expand. Many islands and coastlines are at risk because the sea levels are rising by about 30 millimetres every ten years.
Sheena Talma, Scientific Committee Advisor to Extreme E, finished “When we talk about things like global climate change and the fact that it’s actually immediate, not two years from now and relying on someone else to deal with it, it makes people uncomfortable. But if we don’t talk about it, find solutions, and take action, we will all be in real trouble.”
Safe to say, Extreme has put some great initiatives together to ensure that they leave a positive impact on the communities they visit.
When the new FIA Extreme E (XE) World Championship begins in the desert sands of the Al-Ula, Saudi Arabia this weekend, it won’t just be simply the start of another racing series but a revolutionary concept whose on-track glammer is matched only by its lofty off-track ambitions.
Cast your minds back to January 2019, during the official announcement on the cold, rainy and wintery deck of RMS St. Helena. The motorsport world gathered in anticipation for what was to come. A new championship.
Alejandro Agag, CEO of both Formula E and Extreme E unveiled his dream, an off-road electric SUV racing series that would travel the world to draw attention to climate change through environmentally friendly racing.
The series will take place in five remote locations affected by climate change, where all the equipment and cars are transported by a ‘floating paddock’ cargo ship, which will also serve as a laboratory for scientists to conduct research and enact conservation projects.
Each team features a male and female driver who must take turns throughout each race, and competitors can earn a boost by performing big jumps and winning online fan votes.
Throw in a strong driver line-up including F1 champion Jenson Button , multiple-time WRC champion Sebastien Loeb and W Series champion Jamie Chadwick.
Sounds good doesn’t it?
Something that fascinates me is the incredible mixture of young and established names in motorsport with the likes of Carlos Sainz Snr, Andretti Autosport and Chip Ganassi involved in the series in some way. These personalities and brands are essential to providing Extreme E with a credibility amongst hardcore motorsport fans.
One the other hand you have Veloce Racing, a tech firm and esports squad taking its first step into real-world motorsport. Younger audiences will be familiar with their esports exploits but will inevitably follow with intrigue their transition into the physical world.
It carries the same energy as when ‘new money’ from the Industrial Revolution joined the ranks of the traditional aristocratic and landed gentry of Britain in the 18th century. We are seeing a blurring of the lines of what a traditional race team can look like.
Whether you are a racing ‘super-fan’, an environmentalist or a travel connoisseur, Extreme E has something for everyone.
But do not just take it from me, take it from the man who set up the whole series. During the official press conference Alejandro Agag spoke about his thoughts on the season opener:
“It would have been impossible to organise this race without our hosts and the teams” said Alejandro on the Friday morning before the opening qualifying session. “it’s an incredibly happy day for me. Many people did not think this was going to happen, that is true, this is quite out of the box.”
“This is the biggest experiment in motorsport”.
On the future of Extreme E Alejandro was keen to highlight that set it apart from the Formula E championship: “They are very different. Which one will be bigger? Who knows? They can both become very big, of course, I am keen on both.”
“In terms of manufacturers in season one (Formula E) we had Mahindra, Audi had support with Abt, Renault had support with DAMS. However, already here we have two in season one. We have Cupra, Hummer and Lotus which may become a full partner in the future.”
Importantly, as we have seen with Formula E manufacturers tend to come and go. This has left Alejandro with a philosophy which favours independent teams over manufacturers. With a strong independent line-up including teams owned by Lewis Hamilton, Jenson Button, Veloce, Nico Rosberg, Carlos Sainz Snr and many others, there is certainly a freshness and originality to this grid.
“There are very significant manufacturers who are interested in Extreme E. But you have to build championships independently of manufacturers because when they go, they go. […] Manufacturers are not necessary.”
On which team are the favourites going into the inaugural season, Alejandro was coy, suggesting a competitive title battle:
“Ganassi was looking strong, even though they had a technical problem this morning. But outside of them it looks really open. If I had nine dollars I would put one dollar on each of the other nine teams.”
There have been some minor last-minute alterations to the format in response to reliability. A qualifying race will now be replaced by a series of time trials on Saturday that will form the grid for the semi-final, crazy race and final showdown on Sunday.
On reliability, Alejandro played down his concerns: “I’m not too concerned. “
“(During testing) 18 out of 20 cars broke down. Here this morning two out of nine broke. I hope no car breaks tomorrow but that’s part of racing. I have to say if seven out of nine cars broke this morning I would be concerned.”
It has only been a few days since 21-year-old Jamie Chadwick claimed the first ever W Series title, but the notion of being champion is still very surreal for her.
Jamie started karting at 11 years old before competing in the Ginetta Junior Championship in 2013. She then moved into the British GT Championship in 2015 and won the GT4 class, before moving to single-seaters in 2017 racing in BRDC British Formula 3.
2019 has been an incredibly successful year for the young Brit who has won the MRF Challenge, the 24h Nurburgring race and now the W Series title. It seems that nothing can stop her.
After finishing fourth at Brands Hatch and securing enough points to win the championship title, we talked to Jamie about her W Series journey and how much she has achieved this season.
Kirsty Campbell: We’ve reached the finale in the first season of W Series. It’s been thoroughly enjoyable watching you drive this year. How are you feeling about becoming champion? Jamie Chadwick: Honestly, it’s all a bit overwhelming at the moment. Not sunk in at all. I’m sure it will do soon! But at the moment, I’m just elated, really, really happy. A lot of hard work has gone into this year, so to have it all come together and be crowned as champion is an awesome feeling.
KC: You’ve managed to score three pole positions, five podiums and two wins. You must be proud of what you’ve managed to achieve this season. How has your team and family’s support helped you through the highs and the lows? JC: It’s been awesome. As the year goes, it’s been a fantastic year. Obviously the championship is the highlight, but the whole build up and the actual season has been incredible. I’ve been really lucky, I’ve had a lot of support this year, a lot of people around me working very hard to help me progress and make the dream a reality. It’s been an incredible year. As the year’s gone on I’ve been lucky to have the introduction of support from Williams, which has made a big difference, and also Aston Martin. I’ve been very, very lucky, so it’s nice to have that rewarded and share it all with them.
KC: What has been the most challenging aspect of your W Series experience, and in contrast, what as been your favourite moment this season? JC: I’d say the most challenging race was definitely that last Brands Hatch race. The most challenging aspect overall is probably the fact that it’s not like a normal racing environment where you have your own team, your own independence—you’re sharing everything, you’re travelling together, you’re swapping cars each weekend, nothing’s off limits to anyone else. You’re teammates but racing against each other effectively, so I would say that’s definitely made it quite tough. I’d say the highlight was either the Hockenheim pole or the Brands Hatch pole, and I say that because both situations I felt like that was when the pressure was really on, so to deliver pole position both of those times was a big highlight.
KC: You’ve been neck and neck with Beitske Visser all season. Would you say that this rivalry has helped push your driving skills to the limit? JC: Yeah, 100%. For sure, when you’re working in that close proximity you find yourself pushing each other along quite a lot and definitely she’s pushed me this year to make sure I’m maximising every race, every result. I think the other drivers as well, some of them that came on strong at the end of the year, also kept us honest. But Beitske for the whole year has been the one that’s been pushing me hard, so it’s been a tough year to maintain the lead over her, and fortunately I managed to do it.
KC: Do you feel that W Series is the way forward for female racers in this industry? Do you think it is the right stepping stone for women who want to progress into the more established classes? JC: Yeah, definitely. What W Series is doing is offering a platform for drivers to progress, a platform that a lot of us wouldn’t have otherwise had. So I think that now we’re seeing 20 female racing drivers, racing in Formula 3 cars at a high level, it’s giving them a much greater opportunity to feed into the higher levels of motorsport later on. For me this provided the perfect platform, the perfect stepping stone, so it hopefully do the same for others.
KC: 2019 has been quite a year for you with winning the MRF Challenge and the 24h Nürburgring win, and of course, winning the W Series title. The dream for you, as stated in a Guardian article earlier this month, is to race in Formula One. How did you feel when you got the call about becoming the developmental driver for Williams? Do you see yourself racing in Formula One in the near future? JC: Absolutely. It was a huge moment getting that call. I think every driver wants to be into Formula One, so to get that first step on the ladder and the first association as a development driver really is a dream come true. You just have to look at some of the drivers that have come through their young driver programme to know it’s a great place to be for any young driver, and for me I feel very much the same. It’s the first step into what will hopefully be a much bigger step in the future.
KC: Which drivers in Formula One (past or present) have influenced you the most in your racing career? JC: Good question. I’d say maybe from the past—although not so long ago—Alonso’s definitely influenced me. More because I like the way he wants to go and race in a lot of different things. You know, last year he was racing in Le Mans, Daytona, quite a lot of different championships. The fact that he’s open to doing all sorts of different racing is something that inspires me. And present, I’m not too sure. Definitely Hamilton, the way that he’s driving is incredible at the moment.
KC: What advice would you give to someone wanting to get into motor racing? JC: I would say, just get involved. Don’t let anything stop you. It’s a great sport, I’ve loved every minute of it even though I fell into it by accident. It’s a fantastic sport. I’d say work hard, learn from everyone and anything that you can, go get involved!
KC. Do you think you will be returning to the series next year or do you have other plans? JC: I’m not 100% too sure yet in terms of next year. But I think it’s a great series, it’s a great opportunity. For sure if I can do another season with them, potentially collect some superlicence points next year and get another season of experience, hopefully that will set me on on my way and in good stead for a few years to come.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.