JAMIE CHADWICK WINS INAUGURAL W SERIES CHAMPIONSHIP
Today, on a sunny afternoon at the legendary Brands Hatch circuit in Kent, UK, 21-year-old Jamie Chadwick (UK) won the first ever single-seater series for female drivers only, the 2019 W Series championship.
Having started from pole position, following a scintillating lap in the dying minutes of this morning’s qualifying session, she took the lead at the start of this afternoon’s race ahead of Alice Powell (UK), who had qualified alongside her on the front row. Poor Esmee Hawkey (UK), having qualified a brilliant third, stalled at the start and ended up last on lap one. Third on lap one therefore was Emma Kimilainen (FIN), who had been quickest in both the wet and the dry in yesterday’s free practice sessions but had qualified only fourth this morning.
Jamie, Alice and Emma circulated at the front for the first 10 minutes, in close formation but in line astern, the three of them mastering the testing twists, turns and undulations of the famous Kentish racetrack with impressive speed and precision. Then, essaying a bold and opportunistic manoeuvre on the championship leader, perhaps figuring that she would not wish to risk her championship by resisting too stoutly, Alice hurled her car inside Jamie’s on the entry to Paddock Hill, ran wheel to wheel with her into the downhill compression then up the hill to Druids, and made her move stick as the two cars ran around that slowest corner on the circuit. At the same time Emma lost no time, no time at all, and also managed to pass Jamie, demoting her to third.
Alice was now in the lead, but Emma was close behind. In third place was Jamie, her championship rival Beitske Visser (NLD) now just behind her in fourth. The British spectators who had risen to their feet to cheer Alice taking the lead now gasped audibly as they realised that the battle for the championship was now very much on.
With 10 minutes to go, the Safety Car was deployed as a result of a spin by Miki Koyama (JPN), who was having a somewhat chaotic race, and that closed up the field for the final charge to the line. Miki’s car took four minutes to be moved to a place of safety, leaving just six minutes remaining of the allocated 30 (plus one lap) when the message came “Safety Car in this lap”. As Alice led the field into Clearways and the Safety Car peeled into the pit-lane, she cleverly bunched up the field then nailed it onto the straight, expertly establishing a lead over Emma that she would never lose.
Emma therefore had to settle for second place but, just behind her, as so often this season, Jamie and Beitske were now running nose to tail, the flying Dutchwoman determined to wrest third place from her British rival despite the fact that doing so would not be enough to change the championship standings. Nonetheless she managed it, taking the final podium position with just three laps to go. Jamie therefore finished fourth, the first time this season that she had failed to record a podium finish, but it was not important: she had done enough to be champion, and that was all that mattered.
Fifth was Fabienne Wolhwend (LIE), having driven another typically competent race, while sixth and seventh, having battled each other hell for leather throughout, were Vicky Piria (ITA) and Jess Hawkins (GB); the six points that Jess thereby scored were enough to lift her from 14th in the championship to joint 11th with Sabre Cook (USA), who finished ninth today, thereby earning them both (ie, Jess and Sabre) positions in the all-important top 12, guaranteeing them both participation in the championship next year. Eighth today was Marta Garcia (ESP) and 10th, the last of today’s points scorers, was Sarah Moore (UK).
The top 12 drivers in the championship who are therefore guaranteed participation in next year’s W Series are: Jamie, Beitske, Alice, Marta, Emma, Fabienne, Miki, Sarah, Vicky, Tasmin Pepper (RSA), Sabre and Jess.