W Series expands calendar to 10 races, teams up with TGR NZ
W Series announced double-headers at the Miami season opener and at the Mexico City finale, expanding its 2022 calendar to 10 races. The all-female championship will rely on a partnership with Toyota Racing Series for logistics on some of the rounds.
W Series held its first double-header at Assen in 2019 - albeit the second race was a non-championship experimental race with reverse-grid order. In 2021, at its return to the track from the pandemic challenges of the previous year, Red Bull Ring hosted a back-to-cak weekend at the first and second round in response to the postponement of the French GP and the first real double header went underway at Circuit of the Americas for the highly-attended US GP season finale.
In Austin, more than 400,000 spectators witnessed Jamie Chadwick claiming her second W Series crown after an exciting title fight with Alice Powell - and fans of the series will now have more double-headers to look forward to: the season will open and close with two races per weekend at the upcoming Miami Grand Prix and at Mexico City, bringing the total races up to 10 over 8 race events.
In between, W Series will race at Barcelona, Silverstone, Paul Ricard, Hungaroring, COTA and Suzuka - in the series' first ever Asian round.
To help manage the logistics challenges of a truly global effort, W Series will team up with Toyota Gazoo Racing New Zealand, the promoter of the Toyota Racing Series.
The New Zealand-based championship has been put on hold since the pandemic started due to travel restrictions and used to host one of the most competitive winter series in international motorsport, with a star-studded grid of drivers chasing Super Licence points.
The cars employed are the same Tatuus T318 Formula 3 Regional - named FT60 in the TRS championship - with different engines: while W Series relies on Alfa Romeo Autotecnica engines, Toyota powers the TRS Tatuus in New Zealand.
In an effort to make GP weekends more sustainable, Toyota will send 18 of its racing cars to the Spanish GP at Barcelona and at the Japanese GP at Suzuka, where the cars will retain their Toyota engines.
It is the first time that single-seater series are teaming up in such a partnership to stage a championship. W Series' Tatuus T318 cars will thus be shipped by sea rather than by air to the following rounds, lowering the series' carbon footprint.
"Putting together an international racing series is a complex operation requiring lots of resources, as W Series stages more races in a single season than ever before in 2022" - commented W Series Racing Director Dave Ryan.
"It's great that we were able to come to an arrangement with TGRNZ over the use of their cars. I would like to thank Andrew Davis and Nicolas Caillol for the enthusiastic and proactive manner in which they approached this project, along with Bob McMurray who made the initial introduction between TGRNZ and ourselves."
The idea of the partnership started in early 2020, but was put on hold until now, explains TRS Operation Manager Nicolas Caillol.
“The main factors were freight logistics and costs for W Series and, with our cars not being used at that point of the year, it became apparent we would be able to help", he continued. "We are currently in the process of having our 8AR Engine homologated by the FIA to enable our cars to compete in W Series."
“We hope very much that it is a win-win for both championships. We are all in it together as junior formula series around the world and we are delighted to be able to help. Of course, we’d love to see some of the drivers racing in W Series this year carry on their association with the FT60s and head down to NZ to compete in 2023!"
The Toyota Racing Series grid has seen some talented female racers through the year, notably Indycar driver Tatiana Calderon, former Formula E driver Michela Cerruti, Chelsea Herbert and Christina Orr West. Herbert was part of the W Series selection tests in late 2020.
"As part of the collaboration, we are hoping there will be opportunities in the future for Kiwi women to compete in W Series as well” - concluded Caillol, confident that the lifting of border restrictions in New Zealand will lead to the return of TRS with a full field in 2023.
Full 2022 W Series calendar:
Race 1: 6-8 May, Miami, USA
Race 2: 6-8 May, Miami, USA
Race 3: 20-22 May, Barcelona, Spain
Race 4: 1-3 July, Silverstone, UK
Race 5: 22-24 July, Le Castellet, France
Race 6: 29-31 July, Budapest, Hungary
Race 7: 7-9 October, Suzuka, Japan
Race 8: 21-23 October, Austin, USA
Race 9: 28-30 October, Mexico City, Mexico
Race 10: 28-30 October, Mexico City, Mexico