WSERIES: JAMIE CHADWICK WINS AND MAKES HISTORY
Jamie Chadwick, after leading all the weekend sessions, has won in style the WSeries opener in Hockenheim.
The atmosphere of the big events. The pressure of all the eyes of the world on them.
The 18 drivers from the inaugural WSeries championship went on the grid in Hockenheim focused on the big goal: being the first winner of an all-female race and writing a page in the history of motorsport.
After a rainy morning, the asphalt of the German circuit started to dry minutes before the cars lined up on the grid. Then the ladies learnt that they would be racing on slicks.
As the lights went green, practice and qualifying pace setter Jamie Chadwick had a flawless start and already made a gap by turn 2. Behind her, front row starter Fabienne Wohlwend had too much wheelspin and got past by Moore, Garcia and Powell.
From the second row, an almost stalling Emma Kimilainen saw most of the field flashing by.
In a frantic first lap, Powell attacked Garcia on the long straight leading through turn 6 and passed the Spanish with a brilliant move under braking.
Cameras then picked up Jamie Chadwick running wide at the same corner and having to surrender the lead to an impressive Sarah Moore. But it was chaos few metres behind, as Megan Gilkes braked on the still wet part of the track and heavily collided with the unlucky Emma Kimilainen.
With two crashed cars stranded at the hairpin (and fortunately no drivers harmed), the Safety Car was deployed.
A real shame to see Kimilainen out so early, as her pace had been very promising since the start of the weekend.
As the race resumed, Chadwick immediately attacked Moore to regain first place. The compatriot tried to defend on her way to turn 2, but despite another lock-up, Chadwick managed to get through.
Powell, taking advantage from the battle ahead, overtook Moore for second. Right behind them, Garcia outbraked herself at the hairpin in a late overtaking attempt, but Powell somehow managed to avoid another incident by letting the Spanish through and regaining the position at the corner exit.
Beitske Visser also had benefitted from the action and moved up to 4th, but soon enough she had to start an exciting battle with recovering Fabienne Wohlwend, putting some pressure on the Dutch driver.
As Alice Powell started to clock fastest lap after fastest lap, Chadwick saw her margin quickly reduced to under a second.
But it became quickly clear that it would have been a 3-way battle at the front, as Garcia signed the fastest lap of the race and closed in on the leading duo.
In a very close midfield, Miki Koyama and Tasmin Pepper were authors of remarkable moves to make their way in the top ten, after slightly disappointing qualifying sessions.
Koyama attacked and passed the experienced Piria for P8.
Chadwick, seemingly with some gearbox issue causing some worry, was nonetheless able to control Powell at reasonable distance and when Garcia appeared larger on Alice's rearview mirrors, the leader marginally increased her gap to over a second.
On lap 14, former GP3 driver Vicky Piria spun at the hairpin and rejoined in 15th. Mid-way through the field, Esmee Hawkey, Tasmin Pepper and Caitlin Wood battled hard but fair in the top 10.
Chadwick ultimately crossed the line to become the first WSeries winner, while an impressive Garcia ran out of time to attempt a pass on Powell and finished third.
Alice Powell came back to high-level formula racing after many years with a prestigious podium finish that does not surprises who witnessed to her past GP3 campaigns.
Beitske Visser was on damage-limitation mode after the engine issue that struck her car in qualifying but managed to finish 4th. Sarah Moore was 5th at the finish line, while Fabienne Wohlwend ended 6th and could not make the most out of her front row start.
After superb drives, Koyama finished 7th and Pepper 8th. Gosia Rdest and Caitlin Wood completed the point scoring positions.
With first race archieved, the WSeries will head to Zolder, Belgium, for the second round in 2 weeks time.
In Jamie's words:
“The win feels great. Going into the race, the conditions were tricky which made things a bit more difficult but off the back of qualifying and the back of yesterday, I really was pushing to get the first win.
Losing the lead to Sarah caught me out a bit. I couldn’t get the car stopped at the hairpin and had a bit of an issue where I couldn’t get down the gears but, when the Safety Car went back in, I knew I had a good opportunity get the lead back and win.”
Ph credits: WSeries media