Spanish Stars Shine Brightest At Suzuka

Marta Garcia moved up to second place in the W Series Esports League by winning two of the three races at Suzuka where she was the top-scorer for the third round in a row.

The 19-year-old was victorious in the first and third races of Round Seven at the iconic Japanese circuit, and came from last on the grid to fourth in the reverse-grid race. That was won by fellow Spaniard Belen Garcia who became the sixth different W Series Esports League race-winner.

Marta scored 56 points – her best result at a single round – to go into second place ahead of Irina Sidorkova. Marta is 51 points behind W Series Esports League leader Beitske Visser with three rounds remaining. The Dutch driver, 25, topped both qualifying sessions but failed to convert either of those pole positions into a victory. Beitske’s best result was a runner-up finish in race one and she also recorded the fastest lap in the first two races for a total of 39 points. That tally was matched by Nerea Marti and Ayla Agren who scored one podium finish each to move up to fifth and seventh respectively in the League table.

Guest drivers Hannah Grisham and Gabriela Jilkova – who both tested for W Series on-track in Almeria, Spain, last year – impressed on their W Series Esports League debuts. Czech driver Gabriela, 25, was second in the reverse-grid race, while American Hannah, 20, recorded top-10 finishes in the second and third races. As guest drivers, they are not eligible to score W Series Esports League points.

The W Series Esports League table after Round Seven is as follows:

Position No Driver Total
1 95 Beitske Visser 330
2 19 Marta Garcia 279
3 51 Irina Sidorkova 257
4 20 Caitlin Wood 210
5 32 Nerea Marti 205
6 31 Tasmin Pepper 203
7 17 Ayla Agren 136
8 27 Alice Powell 130
9 22 Belen Garcia 130
10 21 Jessica Hawkins 125
11 26 Sarah Moore 116
12 44 Abbie Eaton 115
13 5 Fabienne Wohlwend 90
14 7 Emma Kimilainen 86
15 99 Naomi Schiff 84
16 3 Gosia Rdest 81
17 97 Bruna Tomaselli 59
18 85 Miki Koyama 48
19 37 Sabre Cook 47
20 11 Vicky Piria 19
21 55 Jamie Chadwick 18

Race 1

Beitske beat Marta to pole position by two tenths of a second, but the Spaniard made the better start to the race and took the lead at Turn One. That allowed Irina to have a run a Beitske, but she got too close and damaged her front wing before running wide and dropping down the order. Caitlin Wood was promoted to third and, with 10 minutes remaining, Nerea took fourth place from Ayla with a move up the inside at the hairpin. Five minutes from the end, the top two crossed the line side-by-side but Marta held on at Turn One. Beitske took the lead at the end of that lap with an incredible overtake around the outside at 130R, but Marta regained first place with a move up the inside at the same corner on the next lap. Beitske got a great exit out of the final chicane on the last lap to set up a drag race to the chequered flag, but Marta won it by nine one-hundredths of a second.

Race 1 Results

Pos No Driver Time/Retired Grid Points FL
1 19 Marta Garcia 16:02.203 2 20
2 95 Beitske Visser -0.096 1 17 1
3 20 Caitlin Wood -3.189 4 15
4 32 Nerea Marti -11.693 5 13
5 17 Ayla Agren -12.975 8 11
6 51 Ira Sidorkova -15.701 3 10
7 26 Sarah Moore -31.616 17 9
8 44 Abbie Eaton -36.433 9 8
9 3 Gosia Rdest -40.581 16 7
10 2 Gabriela Jilkova -40.644 6 0
11 31 Tasmin Pepper -44.093 7 6
12 1 Hannah Grisham -59.513 14 0
13 21 Jessica Hawkins -1:06.064 18 5
14 7 Emma Kimilainen -1:15.672 13 4
15 85 Miki Koyama -1:51.315 10 3
16 11 Vicky Piria -1 LAP 19 2
17 99 Naomi Schiff -1 LAP 12 1
18 97 Bruna Tomaselli -1 LAP 15 0
19 22 Belen Garcia -2 LAPS 11 0

Race 2

Belen started the reverse-grid race from pole position, but while her and second-placed Bruna Tomaselli made smooth starts to hold their positions there was chaos behind them on the opening lap. Spins on the starting grid and mistakes by Miki Koyama and Vicky Piria impacted several drivers, most notably Beitske who was relegated to the rear of the field having made early progress. Tasmin Pepper and Gabriela were the chief beneficiaries and Gabriela passed the South African for third with nine minutes left before quickly taking second place from Bruna. Tasmin, Ayla, Abbie Eaton and Marta all passed Bruna in a hurry and Ayla moved into the final podium position with a move on Tasmin at 130R four minutes from the end. Belen was clear at the front so the focus during the closing stages switched to Marta. After a long wheel-to-wheel battle she finally took fifth place from Abbie on the penultimate lap, diving up the inside at the final chicane. That gave her one lap to overtake Tasmin and she managed it at the Degner curve to finish fourth.

Race 2 Results

Pos No Driver Time/Retired Grid Points FL
1 22 Belen Garcia 16:11.029 1 20
2 2 Gabriela Jilkova -0.713 10 0
3 17 Ayla Agren -7.309 15 17
4 19 Marta Garcia -9.876 19 15
5 31 Tasmin Pepper -11.099 9 13
6 44 Abbie Eaton -12.033 12 11
7 20 Caitlin Wood -12.221 17 10
8 32 Nerea Marti -13.06 16 9
9 97 Bruna Tomaselli -31.751 2 8
10 1 Hannah Grisham -45.476 8 0
11 51 Ira Sidorkova -59.642 14 7
12 21 Jessica Hawkins -1:05.860 7 6
13 95 Beitske Visser -1:06.126 18 5 1
14 85 Miki Koyama -1:39.224 5 4
15 26 Sarah Moore -1:51.785 13 3
16 11 Vicky Piria -1:58.141 4 2
17 99 Naomi Schiff -1 LAP 3 1
18 3 Gosia Rdest -1 LAP 11 0
19 7 Emma Kimilainen -1 LAP 6 0

 Race 3

Beitske’s advantage was halved to one tenth of a second but she got the better of Marta in qualifying again. But unlike in race one, Beitske held on to her lead at the start by moving across to cover Marta when the lights went out. Irina spun at Turn One and collected Gabriela, relegating those two to the back of the field. That pushed Tasmin up to third, a position she temporarily lost to Nerea at the final chicane with 16 of the 20 minutes remaining, only to regain it at the next corner. Marta took a leaf out of Beitske’s book from race one by overtaking her rival around the outside at 130R to hit the front. Two minutes later, Beitske failed with an attempted a pass at the final chicane and hit the rear of Marta’s car on the exit, damaging her front wing. That gave Marta some breathing space and put Beitske under pressure from Tasmin who took second place at 130R. Nerea overtook Beitske with two minutes remaining, and though the League leader fought hard on the final lap, Nerea held on by half a second. A five-second post-race penalty dropped Tasmin to fourth. 

Race 3 Results

Pos No Driver Time/Retired Grid Points FL
1 19 Marta Garcia 20:02.484 2 20 1
3 32 Nerea Marti -7.549 7 17
3 95 Beitske Visser -8.029 1 15
4 31 Tasmin Pepper -9.000 6 13
5 17 Ayla Agren -10.576 8 11
6 22 Belen Garcia -16.991 12 10
7 85 Miki Koyama -20.974 9 9
8 21 Jessica Hawkins -21.316 10 8
9 1 Hannah Grisham -35.019 18 0
10 99 Naomi Schiff -38.169 14 7
11 3 Gosia Rdest -39.993 16 6
12 97 Bruna Tomaselli -44.696 17 5
13 44 Abbie Eaton -59.380 11 4
14 20 Caitlin Wood -1:07.908 4 3
15 26 Sarah Moore -1:12.684 15 2
16 7 Emma Kimilainen -1:20.721 13 1
17 51 Ira Sidorkova -1 LAPS 3 0
18 11 Vicky Piria -2 LAPS 19 0
19 2 Gabriela Jilkova DNF 5 0

Round Eight is at Mount Panorama Circuit, Bathurst, Australia, next Thursday, 30 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.

Quotes

Marta Garcia: “In race one I started second but had a good start to take the lead. Beitske [Visser] had similar pace and overtook me on the third lap, but I managed to stay with her and, on the last lap, overtake her at the chicane before defending well to win the race. In race three I stared second again and Beitske got a good start to retain the lead. But I was as fast as her with a similar rhythm so I could overtake. She tried to overtake me but I stayed in front and then she pressed a bit hard and lost some time which meant I won the race.

“In the reverse-grid race I was calm, just like I have been for the past few weeks. I don’t go too crazy on the first few laps because there are always crashes. My pace was good so I just took it step-by-step. I was fighting with Abbie [Eaton] for fifth and then overtook Tasmin [Pepper] on the last lap.

“Suzuka is a technical track which I didn’t know before I started training. I spent time with Sirio who are helping me improve on the sim and that made me competitive. I hope to continue that improvement in the next round at Mount Panorama, Bathurst. It’s another circuit I don’t know but I’ve heard it’s really tough and technical with lots of barriers, so you need to be careful.

“Getting up to second place in the W Series Esports League is fantastic, but going one better and catching Beitske at the top is going to be really hard as she always performs well. There are three rounds left so it’s not impossible and I will do my very best.”

Belen Garcia: “I didn’t have a good first race, crashing and finishing last, but that gave me pole position for the reverse-grid race. I got a decent start, kept Bruna [Tomaselli] behind me and had very consistent pace during the race. That let me build a good gap over the first few laps and, although Gabriela [Jilkova] was catching me at the end, I managed to keep her behind to win.

“My qualifying was bad again for the third race and the first lap was a challenge because the start was messy and I had to avoid crashes. But I survived and managed to fight to the front with some good pace again. I overtook Miki [Koyama] for seventh and then Jess [Hawkins] made a mistake which gave me sixth place.

“I have improved a lot on the sim and I am so grateful to W Series for this opportunity. Qualifying is one of my weakest points and I’m working really hard to improve that for the final three rounds. That starts at Mount Panorama, Bathurst, next week which I’m really looking forward to. I’ve watched lots of races there, it’s an exciting circuit and I think I will like it but it will be a tough challenge in a Formula car.”

Notes

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 our esports page.