Marta Garcia moved into W Series Esports League title contention by winning two races in round five at Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium.
The Spaniard secured her first W Series Esports League victories in the first and third races from pole position, and came from last on the grid to fifth in the reverse-grid race won by Tasmin Pepper – the South African becoming the fifth different race-winner this season. Marta also recorded the fastest lap in race three to earn a total of 52 points and continue her remarkable run of improving her score at every W Series Esports League round so far.
The 19-year-old outscored Beitske Visser by 15 points at Spa, where the W Series Esports League leader had to settle for runner-up finishes in races one and three. The Dutch driver’s lead at the top of the standings was cut by three points to 49 by Irina Sidorkova, the Russian recording finishes of third, sixth and third.
Irina is 20 points clear of Marta in third place and, as the W Series Esports League season reached the halfway mark, Tasmin moved up to fourth as her reverse-grid triumph and a fourth-placed finish in race three gave her 33 points.
The W Series Esports League table after round five is as follows:
Marta secured her first W Series Esports League pole position, beating Beitske by two tenths of a second in qualifying. Marta got a great start but was caught by Beitske and Irina on the Kemmel Straight. The trio were side-by-side approaching Les Combes but Marta was boldest on the brakes and retained her lead. Nerea Marti joined the fight at the end of lap one when the top four were separated by less than two seconds and, with 12 minutes remaining, Nerea passed Irina for third along the Kemmel Straight. However, barely a minute later, the Spaniard ran wide at Turn 11, which eventually let Irina back through, before making contact with Abbie Eaton and dropping down the order. Beitske was rarely more than one second behind Marta and the pressure told with two minutes left when the race leader locked a wheel to give the League leader a shot at victory. Beitske was closer than ever as they approached the Bus Stop Chicane for the final time and made a bid for glory with a late lunge up the inside, but Marta held on to take the win.
Race 1 Results
A crash at the beginning of race one led to Tasmin starting the reverse-grid race from pole position and the South African took full advantage with a perfect getaway. Her closest pursuers at the end of lap one were Jessica Hawkins, Nerea and Alice Powell, who all took advantage of some early skirmishes to make progress. The same was true of Marta and Irina, who swiftly made their way into the top 10, but not Beitske whose chances were dashed when she was caught up in the opening-lap trouble. As Tasmin steadily built her lead, the order changed behind her at the halfway point when Nerea and Alice passed Jessica at La Source. Two minutes later, Alice overtook Nerea for second at the Bus Stop Chicane but Tasmin was now more than three seconds up the road and out of reach. Jessica was the biggest loser on a frantic final lap, going from fourth to seventh as she was passed by Abbie, Marta and Irina.
Race 2 Results
|17||97||Bruna Tomaselli||-1 L||5||0|
The margin was smaller this time – four one-hundredths of a second – but Marta pipped Beitske to pole position again. The frontrunners were all away cleanly and, though Marta and Beitske, and Irina and Tasmin, went wheel-to-wheel in pairs along the Kemmel Straight, those four led in that order at the end of lap one. Spins for Ayla Agren and Alice at the Bus Stop Chicane first time around promoted Sarah Moore to fifth and Nerea to sixth, and that was how it finished as the top six steadily built gaps and avoided slipstreaming. In contrast, the battle for seventh raged throughout the second half of the race. After waiting patiently for a chance, Abbie finally passed Naomi Schiff with seven minutes left, only for Naomi to regain the position a minute later. But, as they squabbled, Belen Garcia loomed large and, with five minutes to go, the Spaniard pulled off the move of the round, overtaking both of them along the Kemmel Straight before easing clear. Both Belen and Abbie gained one place after the race when Nerea was given a 10-second penalty.
Race 3 Results
|16||7||Emma Kimilainen||-1 L||15||0|
|17||21||Jessica Hawkins||-8 L||6||0|
Round six is at Watkins Glen International, New York, USA, next Thursday, 16 July at 19:00 BST. Watch all three races on BBC iPlayer, BBC Red Button, BBC Sport website and W Series’ Twitch, YouTube and Facebook channels.
Marta Garcia: “I’ve been training for a few days and really dedicated time to learning Spa, so I worked hard and that’s why I was really fast. In race one I started on pole, kept myself first at the start and stayed there. Beitske [Visser] was getting closer to me at the end and even at the last corner on the last lap she tried to overtake me, but I managed to finish first so I’m very happy. In race three I started on pole again, had a really good start and just drove away. I had really good pace and built a gap to Beitske so I could win the race. I’ve been having really bad reverse-grid races so now I’m staying calmer, seeing what happens on the first lap and then trying to overtake step-by-step. That’s how I managed to get up to fifth [from last on the grid] and luckily I wasn’t caught up in any crashes.
“I’m really looking forward to the next round at Watkins Glen. I don’t know the track and it takes time, at least 10 laps, to know a new track. But to have great pace I’ll need to train for two or three days and put some good work in. It’s not impossible for me to win the W Series Esports League, but it will be really difficult. Beitske has a big lead and she is always doing good races so it will be very tough to beat her, but finishing in the top two will certainly be possible if I do a good job.”
Tasmin Pepper: “I had a crash in race one so I had a long pitstop to fix my car but that put me first on the grid for race two. I got a great start and then just tried to maintain the gap to Alice [Powell] in second. The gap was never less than two seconds and you have to be within seven tenths of a second to get a slipstream so I was just trying to maintain that. I was probably a bit too cautious but I didn’t want to make any mistakes and out-brake myself or spin. Spa is really tough and it happened a lot in practice where I tried a bit too hard on the brakes or got on the power a bit too early, so I just kept a steady pace, enough to keep the gap and take the win. It’s nerve-wracking when you’re in front and you’re trying not to make mistakes, but I’m pleased I got first and some good points, especially as I didn’t score in the first race.
“In race three I got off the line behind Ira [Sidorkova] and the gap to her stayed consistent, but I had Sarah [Moore] on my tail so I was making sure she never got within seven tenths of a second. The girls at the front are really fast and they’re putting in the time on the sim. I can’t practise as much as I’d like to so fourth is a solid result and now I’ve just got to catch the three at the front.
“Finishing in the top three in the championship would be ideal but catching Beitske is unrealistic at the moment. She’s very consistent, winning often and in the races she’s not winning she’s still in the top five. It’s about staying out of trouble, making sure you score in every round and you never know where you’ll end up in the championship. Watkins Glen is next and it’s a circuit I’ve never driven. You can learn the basics of a track quickly but to learn the finer points and get really fast it takes a couple of days on the sim, so I’ll try my best to do that.”
W Series Esports League points for each race are awarded as follows:
- Race 1: 20-17-15-13-11-10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 (1st – 15th) & 1 point for fastest lap
- Race 2: 20-17-15-13-11-10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 (1st – 15th) & 1 point for fastest lap
- Race 3: 20-17-15-13-11-10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 (1st – 15th) & 1 point for fastest lap
At the end of the W Series Esports League season, the driver who has scored the most points will be declared the winner of the W Series Esports League.
For further information on the new W Series Esports League, including race calendar and how to watch, visit www.wseries.com/esports