W-Series, Powell wins, Chadwick makes history
Alice Powell took her maiden W-Series victory in Brands Hatch, while Jamie Chadwick claimed the first historic title.
Jamie Chadwick leaves Brands Hatch as the first W-Series champion: despite a slightly disappointing race and finishing for the first time this year off the podium, the highly acclaimed British driver raced with intelligence, always with the championship in mind and brought home a fourth placed that crowned her in front of her home crowd.
It was a huge success for W-Series, which doubled the DTM spectator figures specifically for the special event.
Alice Powell, incredibly unlucky in some of the previous rounds, finally had her deserved glory moment: her masterful race was enriched by the pass for the lead at Paddock Hill Bend on Jamie Chadwick who had led the first stages of the race.
Emma Kimilainen once again finished on the podium, as she took advantage from the Powell-Chadwick battle and dived on the inside with locked wheels at Druids to take second away from Chadwick. Kimilainen followed closely Powell until the end and could not attempt a move on the experienced British driver due to dirty air in fast corners.
"That champagne tasted good, it's been a great day." - said race winner Alice Powell. "I quickly realized that I had the pace over Jamie and I wanted to get past as soon as possible and it was just about managing the pace and keep consistent times."
"To win here in front of the home crowd, with all this attention, it's amazing."
"I did a good start and I knew I had the pace to be racing for the win" - commented Kimilainen. "I could see that Alice's tyres were going a little bit too hot, she was starting to slide while I really managed my tyres and got really close to her. But then the Safety Car came out and Alice blew us away with her restart."
"I have some unfinished business here, I'm definitely going to do another year and aim for the championship." - she added.
Beitske Visser completed a race in attack-mode, making a move stick on her rival Chadwick with few laps to go. But third wasn't ultimately enough to close the points disadvantage and take the title away from the Brit.
"I think it's been a great season, I had pace in every single race. I knew today it was going to be very hard, this is a tack that I don't really know and I had to learn it in qualifying." - said Visser. "I think I did everything I could today."
At the race start, qualifying revelation Esmee Hawkey moved slightly in her grid box before the lights went out, which resulted in Hawkey almost stalling the car and in a drive through penalty for jump start, effectively compromising her race.
Kimilainen immediately stormed past, just like Wohlwend and Vicky Piria, who enjoyed a solid race in the top-6. The Italian driver battled hard with the aggressive Jessica Hawkins, but could finish her season in the crucial top-12.
In the middle of the pack, Marta Garcia recovered several positions until the eight place, while Jess Hawkins brought home the most important P7 finish of her career, as she earned the top-12 and grid slot for next year by just one point over Australian Caitlin Wood.
Sarah Bovy, after a promising start of the race, slightly damaged her front wing and was forced to pit to replace it. "These cars are solid, but I've been very unlucky there and it costed me a very good race as my pace was quite fast. I did the same Beitske's laptime, so today I was fast. Just bad luck" - said the Belgian reserve driver after the race.
The Safety Car was deployed with 8 minutes left on the clock, when Miki Koyama spun. The Japanese driver had a tough race, as she was also handed a drive through in the opening stages for incorrect grid position when she was running in the top positions.
With few laps to go, Visser made the daring move on Chadwick and the whole British crowd suddenly went silent for a brief moment, fearing a thrilling finish. But despite another actin-packed race, W-Series inaugural season ended with the home hero brough home the title: "Today has been more intense than any other race that I ever had. It's been incredible, at the beginning of the year I knew it was going to be a great year and I knew W-Series had the potential to be something big and each race has got bigger and bigger and coming here at Brands Hatch, I have never seen this place like this. It's by far my best year yet" - she commented.
"I felt really comfortable up front but Alice had a little bit more pace than me and I knew it wasn't my battle to fight. I kinda lost my rythm there and managed to make a little mistake, I opened the door for Beitske. Probably the hardest 30 minutes of my life, I never experienced that kind of pressure before."
"Definitely not a pretty race, but in terms of the championship it's what we needed to do. It's one of these tracks that bites and I just didn't want to throw the championship away."
The newly crowned champion and one of the rising stars of international motorsport also won the 500,000$ prize money and will now look at her opportunities for next year.
And, while in the hospitality of the series that is contributing to rethink racing, tears are starting to come down for a season that went by too fast, the attention will be soon on next year's selections, with 12 young women already sure about a solid programme to rely on.
Ph credits: Racers-BehindTheHelmet.com