The final race of the W Series season, and championship decider, will take place tomorrow at Brands Hatch in Kent, UK. At 2.65 miles (4.26km) long, the undulating woodland circuit is the most challenging racetrack of the W Series season, creating a spectacular stage for a gripping showdown to the series.
Just two drivers are still in contention for the championship, Jamie Chadwick (UK) and Beitske Visser (NLD), who will fight for the win and the US$500,000 prize that comes with it. But the battle will not stop there – every driver on the grid will be pushing hard to secure a place in the top 12 and thereby guarantee a place in next year’s W Series, not to mention increase their share of the US$1.5 million total prize fund.
During today’s Free Practice sessions, Assen winner Emma Kimilainen (FIN) was top of the time sheets during both the wet and dry sessions, clocking a fastest lap of 1min 23.365sec in FP2, 0.283sec ahead of Alice Powell (UK), who is currently fourth in the championship standings. In the wet FP1 session this morning, championship leader Jamie Chadwick (UK) had trailed Emma by 0.421sec. But today has not been the best of days for Beitske, currently second in the championship, for she was last in FP1 owing to an electrical problem with her car, and seventh in FP2.
Looking ahead to tomorrow, all 20 drivers will line up on the grid, including the two reserve drivers Vivien Keszthelyi (HUN) and Sarah Bovy (BEL). Achieving a good grid position during qualifying will be crucial, because Brands Hatch is notoriously difficult for overtaking. But the weather forecast promises dry and fine weather, so the thousands of expected spectators can expect to see a flat-out race for the first ever W Series championship title.
Dave Ryan, W Series Racing Director, said:
“Almost all the drivers coped very well with the tricky wet-dry weather conditions in FP1 this morning, Emma was particularly impressive when the track was at its wettest.
“Of the two championship contenders, Jamie also showed well, second-quickest, but Beitske’s session was compromised by an electrical issue that reduced her running to just seven laps, all of them run when the track was pretty wet; she therefore ended up 20th and last.
“This afternoon, in FP2, which was dry and warm, Beitske recovered well, finishing seventh-fastest. Had the session not been interrupted by two red flags, she may have gone quicker still. But Emma was quickest again, closely followed by Alice, Jamie again, Miki and Jess.
“But tomorrow will be when it counts.”
Catherine Bond Muir, W Series Chief Executive Officer, said:
“First of all, what a magnificent racetrack Brands Hatch is – fast, undulating, difficult, and rewarding of both skill and courage.
“All around the circuit the grandstands were buzzing with W Series fever today, a larger-than-usual crowd cheering our drivers on in rain this morning and in sunshine this afternoon.
“In FP1, when the track was wet, the fastest drivers were the one Finn and the five Brits – dare I suggest they’re more acclimatised to cold and wet racetracks than are some of the others?!
“But, seriously, all our drivers did extremely well today, and we’re now all set for tomorrow, when the historic race for the inaugural W Series championship will be run – and won.”
Full results from Friday’s practice session can be found here.