A topic of conversation throughout the Motorsport world in 2019, which has been hotly debated, was the launch of the all-female championship, W Series. Argued whether it was good for the sport or whether it’s sexist to segregate women from the men, the opening series has been very successful for promoting talents of women in Motorsport. As the series reached its conclusion at Brands Hatch as part of the DTM program on the 11th August 2019, the crowning of a champion would be fought between two worthy females, Jamie Chadwick and Beitske Visser. It may not have been a surprise to most in the Motorsport world that due to her impressive CV, the series leader was Jamie Chadwick. The former British GT4 and MRF Challenge Champion had impressed in her maiden W Series outing, taking victory in Germany and since then, hasn’t lost the lead in the overall standings. Taking two victories and a podium finish at every championship round, the Brit came to her home circuit leading by thirteen points. Her Dutch rival, Beitske Visser may have had a task on her hands to take the title, but the twenty-one-year-old has herself been on the top step in 2019, taking a race win at Zolder and hasn’t been outside the top four at every round. A podium finish at Brands Hatch was Visser’s target, especially as this could give her enough points to overhaul Chadwick, if Chadwick finished towards the rear of the top ten.
In terms of the rest of the grid away from the top two, it has been made up of an international line up throughout 2019, with a close fight on for third overall. Holding that position entering Brands Hatch was Spain’s Marta Garcia, a race winner so far at the Norisring in Germany. Only been on the podium one other time, Garcia sat on sixty-two points in the standings, twenty-three back from Visser in front. Whilst it looked unlikely, she would move up the order to second overall, Garcia would have eyes on Brit Alice Powell, as a gap of eleven points separated the third and fourth placed drivers. Powell had unfortunately suffered back to back retirements at Misano and Norisring, but podium finishes at every other round, including three second places made her a contender for a race win. Circuit knowledge could play its part for Powell who has race the GP loop at Brands Hatch in various championships during her career.
Local interest at Brands Hatch wouldn’t just be for Chadwick and Powell though as at Brands Hatch a few drivers were targeting a slot in the 2020 season, with a top twelve championship finish securing entry. These drivers were Sarah Moore (regular GT competitor), Jessica Hawkins (VW Cup & Mini Challenge competitor) and Esmee Hawkey (Porsche Carrera Cup competitor). In the current standings, Moore was highest placed driver down in eighth, whilst Hawkins and Hawkey were just outside the automatic places in thirteenth and fourteenth.
Chadwick moves Towards Title with Pole Position
After opening the weekend with free practice sessions on Saturday in mixed conditions, the all-important final qualifying session of the season took place on Sunday morning and temperatures were superb for quick times. A session of twenty-five minutes was frantic but it didn’t start that way. During free practice, Finnish driver Emma Kimilainen stood out as quickest around the GP loop and she continued having the pace on Sunday, emerging as the pace setter and topping the times. With rubbing going down lap after lap, the times got quicker and Alice Powell made her mark, taking pole at the mid-way point of the session. Surprisingly title rivals Jamie Chadwick and Beitske Visser were struggling to make an impact. Powell and Kimilainen went the next few minutes as the pace setters but as the session entered its final stages, Chadwick was charging her way up the order. With four minutes on the clock, Chadwick went quicker than her rivals but couldn’t relax, as Powell was determined to bag pole position. Alice did secure pole position on her final run, however as the chequered flag was waved, Chadwick crossed the line 0.368 seconds quicker and took pole position for the final race of the season, the best position for her in targeting the title. Alice Powell was pleased with second, whilst Esmee Hawkey jumped Kimilainen for a British 1-2-3, in what was Hawkey’s best qualifying session of the year. On row three of the grid would be Chadwick rival Visser, who ended the session 0.785 seconds down and would start alongside Fabienne Wohlwend, who ended the session on similar time to Visser. Showing the strength of the series, the top seven were covered by less than a second, with position eight to fifteen further back but still covered by less than a second between them.
W Series, Brands Hatch Qualifying Top Six:
- Jamie Chadwick (No.55) = 1:22.425s
- Alice Powell (No.27) = +0.368s
- Esmee Hawkey (No.2) = +0.439s
- Emma Kimilainen (No.7) = +0.476s
- Beitske Visser (No.95) = +0.785s
- Fabienne Wohlwend (No.5) = +0.785s
Chadwick does enough to be Crowned Champion
The pace from qualifying hinted that we were in for a specular race to conclude the W Series opening season and when the lights went out, Jamie Chadwick was determined to be crowned champion. Chadwick pulled away well to lead Alice Powell into Paddock Hill Bend but there was drama behind. On row two in third spot, Esmee Hawkey stalled her W Series car and would drop to the rear of the field. To make matters worse as everyone narrowly avoided her, the stewards deemed she had suffered a false start, resulting in a drive through. As Chadwick led Powell in a British 1-2, Emma Kimilainen was promoted to third, followed closely by Beitske Visser, who needed to finish ahead of Chadwick for any chance of the title.
The leading three were pretty close in the opening stages of the race but Chadwick seemed in control, that was however until Powell took a chance at Paddock Hill and forced Chadwick wide. A near miss collision and pressure from Emma Kimilainen resulted in Jamie slipping down to third position, with Visser closing in and starting to challenge for a podium position. The pressure on Chadwick increased moments later as the safety car was deployed, bunching the field as Miki Koyama had an off. Once the car was moved by the marshals, the race length was only six minutes plus one lap.
On the restart, Alice Powell nailed her getaway to lead Emma Kimilainen as behind Visser attempted to take Chadwick for third, knowing she had to try everything possible to take the title. With the field behind closing in on Visser, a pass on Chadwick may have dropped her further down the order. With time ticking away, Visser jumped ahead of the Brit with a well-timed move, but Jamie did enough to not drop too much time and sat comfortably in fourth, knowing the title would be hers at the chequered flag.
As Alice Powell secured her first W Series victory crossing the line 0.511 seconds ahead of Kimilainen and with it third in the overall standings, Jamie Chadwick crossed the line in fourth, the first time off the podium in the W Series, but it didn’t matter as she was now the inaugural W Series Champion. The top five in the race was completed by Fabienne Wolhwend (LIE), ahead of Italian Vicky Piria, who had defended off Jessica Hawkins all race. It pretty felt like a victory for Jessica though as the six points were enough to secure her a grid spot for the 2020 season. Eighth in the race went to Marta Garcia who would end the year fourth overall, whilst the last points finisher in tenth was Brit Sarah Moore.
W Series, Brands Hatch Race Top Ten:
- Alice Powell (No.27) = 21 Laps
- Emma Kimilainen (No.7) = +0.511s
- Beitske Visser (No.95) = +5.784s
- Jamie Chadwick (No.55) = +9.321s
- Fabienne Wohlwend (No.5) = +9.732s
- Vicky Piria (No.11) = +10.730s
- Jessica Hawkins (No.21) = +11.060s
- Marta Garcia (No.19) = +11.613s
- Sabre Cook (No.37) = +12.179s
- Sarah Moore (No.26) = +13.420s
At the end of the 2019 season, our congratulation goes to Jamie Chadwick on securing the title after a hard-fought season. With the winter approaching, attention will now turn to the 2020 season, which has seen the top twelve from 2019 automatically qualify, whilst the remaining spots will be decided during a selection process, which will take place over the winter break. This could end up seeing a few newcomers to the series; however, drivers who missed out on the top twelve this season can contest for a spot in 2020 via the selection process. The qualifiers for 2020 are as follows:
To keep up to date with the W Series in the off season and find out everything you will need to know about the 2020 campaign, such as calendar and drivers, please visit https://wseries.com/
Written and Produced by Chris Collier and Cheryl Closs.