Chadwick wins inaugural W Series Championship
Jamie Chadwick is the inaugural W Series Champion after winning the first ever single-seater series exclusively for female drivers at Brands Hatch. Having started from pole position, following a scintillating lap in the dying minutes of qualifying, the 21-year-old took the lead at the start of the championship finale ahead of Alice Powell, who had qualified alongside her on the front row.
Jamie, Alice and Emma Kimilainen circulated at the front for the first 10 minutes, in close formation, the three of them mastering the testing twists, turns and undulations of the famous Kentish racetrack with impressive speed and precision. Then, essaying a bold and opportunistic manoeuvre on the championship leader, perhaps figuring that she would not wish to risk her championship by resisting too stoutly, Alice hurled her car inside Jamie’s on the entry to Paddock Hill, ran wheel to wheel with her into the downhill compression then up the hill to Druids, and made her move stick as the two cars ran around that slowest corner on the circuit. At the same time Emma lost no time, no time at all, and also managed to pass Jamie, demoting her to third.
Alice was now in the lead, but Emma was close behind. In third place was Jamie, her championship rival Beitske Visser now just behind her in fourth. The British spectators who had risen to their feet to cheer Alice taking the lead now gasped audibly as they realised that the battle for the championship was now very much on. With 10 minutes to go, the Safety Car was deployed as a result of a spin by Miki Koyama and that closed up the field for the final charge to the line. Miki’s car took four minutes to be moved to a place of safety, leaving just six minutes remaining of the allocated 30 (plus one lap) when the message came “Safety Car in this lap”.
As Alice led the field into Clearways and the Safety Car peeled into the pit-lane, she cleverly bunched up the field then nailed it onto the straight, expertly establishing a lead over Emma that she would never lose. Emma therefore had to settle for second place but, just behind her, as so often this season, Jamie and Beitske were now running nose to tail, the flying Dutchwoman determined to wrest third place from her British rival despite the fact that doing so would not be enough to change the championship standings.
Nonetheless she managed it, taking the final podium position with just three laps to go. Jamie therefore finished fourth, the first time this season that she had failed to record a podium finish, but it was not important: she had done enough to be champion, and that was all that mattered.
“To be the inaugural W Series champion is simply unbelievable“, Jamie said, “It’ll sink in soon I’m sure, but it hasn’t yet. This year has been a whirlwind, and today’s race was more intense than any other racing day I’ve ever had. Even though I finished only fourth, I was just so happy finally to cross the line and secure the championship. The whole W Series experience has been incredible. At the beginning of the year I thought it just might be a great season. I suspected that W Series had the potential to be something big, but I never expected it to be this big. Obviously, each race has got bigger and better but coming here to Brands Hatch, my home circuit, well, I’ve simply never experienced anything like it. I’ve never felt attention from the spectators as much as I did today, and that really is a credit to W Series. It’s been an incredible opportunity for all of us, and the things I’ve been able to go on to do alongside W Series have made it by far the best year of my career so far.”