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Brilliant Beitske storms to victory on a weekend of firsts for W Series in Singapore

Beitske Visser wins the inaugural Singapore W Series race

Friday Practice

Jamie Chadwick (Jenner Racing, 24, UK) set the pace in practice for the seventh race of the 2022 season as W Series made its debut in Asia.

Jamie topped the session – which was twice interrupted by red flags – with her final flying lap of 2:13.529. Abbi Pulling (Racing X, 19, UK) was more than half a second behind in second place, and Alice Powell (Click2Drive Bristol Street Motors Racing W Series Team, 29, UK) was a further two tenths adrift in third.

They were the only two drivers to get within a second of Jamie’s benchmark. Jamie – who has won five of the seven races so far this season. Belen García (Quantfury W Series Team, 22, ESP) was fourth quickest, two tenths faster than Beitske, who was less than one tenth ahead of Nerea Martí (Quantfury W Series Team, 20, ESP). Fabienne Wohlwend (CortDAO Racing W Series Team, 24, LIE), Sarah Moore (Scuderia W, 28, UK), Jessica Hawkins (Click2Drive Bristol Street Motors Racing W Series Team, 27, UK), and Marta Garcia (CortDAO Racing W Series Team, 21, ESP) completed the top 10.

Friday's practice session represented W Series' first-ever session at night, and the cars sparkled under the Marina Bay Street Circuit's iconic floodlights. The 'W' on the nosecones of all 18 turned pink to mark the start of Breast Cancer Awareness Month this weekend. In addition, those of the six British drivers carried a commemorative message for Lorraine Gathercole, Chair of the British Women Racing Drivers Club (BWRDC) and racing driver, who died this week.

The track surface was dusty, but Alice quickly got to grips with it, going faster than the field by almost a second after the first flying laps. However, while pushing hard to find more time on her second run, the Briton spun at the final corner. That allowed team-mate Jessica to hit the front with 10 of the 30 minutes gone, when the session was red-flagged after Chloe Chambers (Jenner Racing, 18, USA) hit the wall at Turn 8.

During the six-minute delay, Jamie and Fabienne collided in the pit-lane, and that incident was being investigated by the stewards after the session. When proceedings restarted, Alice regained top spot with just under a third of the session remaining when she became the first driver to dip below 2:15.000. But, just moments later, after most of the drivers had completed their sixth lap, the session was red-flagged for a second time when Bianca Bustamante (W Series Academy, 17, PHI) stopped at Turn 3.

After the circuit was cleared and with three minutes left on the clock, there was just time for the drivers to set one more flying lap time. Alice failed to beat her best effort, but Abbi and Jamie both went quicker than their compatriot. Jamie – despite completing two fewer laps than anyone in the top 13 – was the only driver to go under 2:14.000 as she beat Abbi by 0.568 seconds.

Saturday Qualifying

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.

"It was a really tough race, and really hot out there. I think it's one of the hardest races physically. I was on pole and I had a good start, but Beitske had a better start so I was P2... It's been hard work getting to this point, last year was really tough and I'm getting there now. I'm happy I got a podium and a pole position, and that shows I'm able to be there at the front."
- Marta Garcia

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.

Fabienne Wohlwend and Emma Kimiläinen (Puma W Series Team, 33, FIN) completed the top 10, despite the latter completing fewer laps (three) than any other driver.

Marta Garcia took pole position after Saturday's qualifying

In spite of separate incidents on Friday, both Chloe Chambers and Bianca Bustamante were fit to take part in qualifying, before which Fabienne and Bruna Tomaselli (Racing X, 25, BRA) 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.

Sunday Race

Beitske Visser took her first victory of the 2022 W Series season in a dramatic seventh race of the year in Singapore, where championship leader Jamie Chadwick retired from a W Series race for the first time.

"It was a good race and Beitske withstood all the pressure that Alice could give her and drove superbly. Alice was doing the best she could. I really feel sorry for Jamie, that is the first time in three seasons she has made a mistake and she is beating herself up about it, but she shouldn't be – she should be proud about her part in the season so far. But it keeps the championship fight alive and that's great."
- Dave Ryan, Racing Director, W Series

The second win of Beitske's W Series career – and her first since the second race of the inaugural season in May 2019 – came after she took the lead at the opening corner, before holding off a strong challenge from Alice Powell. Pole-sitter Marta Garcia completed the podium at Marina Bay. Beitske's victory saw her take second place outright in the championship standings, seven points clear of Alice in third, and 50 behind leader Jamie with three races remaining and a maximum 75 points to be won. Reigning double champion Jamie had the chance to seal her third straight title at W Series' first-ever race in Asia but, having qualified in eighth, she crashed out of the race in the closing stages when running in sixth place.

Jamie's retirement resulted in a frantic finish with the field bunched after a safety-car period. Belen García finished fourth but, behind her, compatriots Jessica Hawkins, Abbi Pulling, and Sarah Moore crossed the line little more than one tenth of a second apart in fifth, sixth, and seventh place respectively. Fabienne Wohlwend, Emma Kimiläinen, and Abbie Eaton (Scuderia W, 30, UK) completed the top 10. After Saturday's rain-curtailed qualifying session, the only change to the starting grid saw Emma serve a two-place grid penalty given to her after the previous race in Hungary for causing a collision. That dropped her from 10th to 12th, and promoted Chloe Chambers and Abbie by one place each. Marta started from pole position for the second time in her W Series career, but the outlook was very different 24 hours later when the race of 30 minutes plus one lap began in dry conditions. Beitske had the better getaway from the front row and overtook Marta on the inside going into Turn 1. Jamie made up two places in the first three corners, moving up to sixth by overtaking title rival Abbi around the outside at Turn 3. Further back, Juju Noda (W Series Academy, 16, JPN) retired after eight corners with damage to the front-right of her car. After the race, she was given a two-place grid penalty for causing a collision to be applied at the next event. By the end of the first lap, Beitske had built a lead of 1.3 seconds over Marta who was coming under extreme pressure from Alice. Belen and Jessica followed the leading trio, with Jamie 3.6 seconds off the front in sixth.

"I was very happy with that one. It is such a relief to get the win and I've been waiting for it for a long time. I think it's been coming for the last few races as we've always been there. I got a good start and in the first few laps I was very strong... I was a bit worried about the start of the race as they changed my clutch a bit from yesterday for the biting point and it was a bit of a guess, but thankfully we guessed right!"
- Beitske Visser

Alice set back-to-back fastest laps to close to within half a second of Marta, and the pressure finally told with 21 minutes of the race remaining. Alice took second place with a bold overtaking move before the pair went under the grandstand in the final sector. Alice was 2.5 seconds behind leader Beitske but, now in clear air, she reduced that deficit to less than one second at the halfway stage. Jamie was seven seconds off the lead and under pressure from Abbi after running wide at Turn 7. As the final third of the race began, Alice was three tenths of a second behind Beitske having spent three laps on the leader's tail but being unable to make an overtaking move stick. The pace slowed slightly as the leading runners began to suffer from tyre degradation and lack of grip.

"The start was really good and once we got past Marta the gap to Beitske was two and a half seconds, but we pulled it in and had the fastest lap by five tenths. The car was amazing but when we caught Beitske it was so hard to follow and I couldn't get past... there are still three races left and this is W Series where anything can happen. I'm looking forward to it." - Alice Powell

With five minutes left, Abbi was the only driver to set a lap time under 2:15.000 and that saw her close to within three tenths of Jamie, who was the same margin behind Jessica. Jamie attempted to overtake Jessica by going late on the brakes at Turn 7, but she locked a wheel and, despite having some run-off on the exit of the corner, collided with the barriers and retired from the race. That brought out the safety car as Jamie's car was lifted away, and the safety car returned to the pit-lane only leaving time for a final-lap shootout. Beitske made a good restart to retain her lead going into Turn 1 and, though Alice closed to within three tenths in the final sector, Beitske kept her cool to seal victory. 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 used in Singapore retained 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.

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