Marta masters Marina Bay rain for pole position

Marta Garcia took the second pole position of her W Series career in a rain-curtailed qualifying session for the seventh race of the 2022 season in Singapore.

The Spaniard belied the worsening conditions at the Marina Bay Street Circuit to record a brilliant lap of 2:30.762. That was good enough to beat Beitske Visser by less than one tenth of a second and earn Marta her first pole since the fourth race of W Series’ inaugural season in July 2019 – 1,185 days ago.

Alice Powell set the early pace in qualifying for W Series’ first-ever race in Asia, but last season’s runner-up finished third, more than half a second behind Marta.

Belen García survived a spin midway through the session to achieve her best qualifying result of the season in fourth, one place ahead of Alice’s team-mate Jessica Hawkins.

Abbi Pulling was the last driver to get within two seconds of Marta’s benchmark in sixth place, and she was followed by compatriots Sarah Moore and Jamie Chadwick.

Jamie – who has won five of the six races so far this season – holds a 75-point lead at the top of the championship standings with four races remaining and a maximum 100 points to be won. If she finishes higher than Alice, Beitske, and Abbi in Sunday’s race, then title number three will be hers. But she will start behind all three of her nearest challengers in eighth – her lowest starting position since the first race of the 2021 season in Austria where she qualified in the same position.

Fabienne Wohlwend and Emma Kimiläinen completed the top 10, despite the latter completing fewer laps (three) than any other driver.

Jamie was fastest in Friday’s practice session, which was twice interrupted by red flags caused by incidents involving Chloe Chambers and Bianca Bustamante. Both drivers were fit to take part in qualifying, before which Fabienne and Bruna Tomaselli were reprimanded for offences in the pit-lane during practice.

Rain started falling five minutes before qualifying began, but the session started on time and all drivers took to the circuit on wet weather tyres. Alice was the first to cross the line, and that paid dividends as she went more than one second clear of the field after all 18 runners had set a flying lap time.

With a third of the 30-minute session gone, the rain intensified but, despite that, Marta beat Alice’s time by six tenths of a second, before Beitske split that pair with a time less than one tenth shy of Marta’s.

Belen spun in sector one and, as the heavy rain kept falling, the session was red-flagged with 17 minutes left. After a 13-minute delay, the session resumed, and the remaining time was reduced to 10 minutes due to the proximity to Formula 1’s practice session. However, no sooner had the drivers returned to the track when the rain became heavier again and, with just under six minutes left on the clock, the session was red-flagged for a second time and brought to a premature end.

Toyota Gazoo Racing New Zealand (TGRNZ) is supporting W Series with the logistics required to get racing cars to F1 race weekends in the most sustainable way this year. Toyota sent 18 of its FT60 cars to be used by W Series at the third race of the season at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, Spain, in May, and are doing the same this weekend when W Series is supporting the Formula 1® Singapore Airlines Singapore Grand Prix 2022.

W Series uses identical Tatuus chassis to the Toyota Racing Series, but with different engines, and the cars being used in Singapore retain their Toyota engines. Sharing cars between the two championships helps to manage logistics and enables the use of sea, as opposed to air freight, keeping the series’ carbon footprint as low as possible.

Marta Garcia (CortDAO Racing W Series Team, 21, ESP) said:
“I like the rain. I am really, really happy with P1. This is an amazing track and I already loved it yesterday during practice. It looked as though it was going to be dry at the end, but it was quite wet. I went out early and was trying to find the limit on the first laps. I pushed on the first lap trying to put in a good time. I felt really comfortable out there in the rain, it was quite stable, and I had so much fun. I hope it rains tomorrow as it looks like I have the pace to be there and I’m looking forward to the race.”

Beitske Visser (Sirin Racing W Series Team, 27, NED) said:
“That was crazy. It started raining just before the session, so we went out on wets and knew there was more rain coming. I had to push from the beginning which went well, and I was just a tenth short. I’m happy with P2 as, after that, we started aquaplaning and it was all about not hitting the wall. Let’s see what the weather does tomorrow as, either dry or wet, all looks good. I’m impressed with the amount of grip we have here both in the dry and the wet, but the aquaplaning starts quickly when it rains.”

Alice Powell (Click2Drive Bristol Street Motors Racing W Series Team, 29, UK) said:
“I was surprised the session even restarted as you could probably swim from Turn 5 to Turn 7. I had really good track position and just made a mistake when I needed to not make a mistake. I struggled even before it started to rain with traction, but that is something to talk about tomorrow if it rains again, so I have a little bit of work to do.

“It was a really good job by the guys in the pit-lane as it was frantic, and no one knew what was going on. The guys on my car did a really good job making sure I got out in the right spot, and we were on it. A big shout out to them and I’m looking forward to the race tomorrow. I don’t really mind whether it is wet or dry as there is no room for error here – in either case, if you go off, you’re going to hit the wall. I am starting P3 so visibility won’t be great if it’s raining, but I’m the highest of the people with the dry times from practice so, if it is dry, that is something to take into account.” 

For full W Series results and session timings from the seventh race of the 2022 W Series season at the Marina Bay Street Circuit, Singapore, click here.

W Series’ schedule for this weekend continues on Sunday 2 October when the race of 30 minutes plus one lap will start at 16.45 (local time, SGT).

British fans can watch the seventh race of the 2022 W Series season live from the Marina Bay Street Circuit on Sky Sports F1 from 09.35 BST on Sunday 2 October, with highlights on Channel 4 at 16.45 BST. The action can also be seen across W Series’ digital and social channels, as well as being broadcast in more than 175 territories, with a full list available here.