WSeries: British driver Chadwick dominates Misano round and leads points standings
Twenty-one-year-old Jamie Chadwick (GBR), from Bath, UK, scored a finely judged victory at the Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli, on Italy’s Adriatic coast, finishing just half a second ahead of Beitske Visser (NDL) in second place. Third was Fabienne Wohlwend (LIE), from Liechtenstein, who had taken pole position this morning.
At the start, Fabienne made a mediocre start, and found herself under pressure from Alice Powell (GBR) as they approached Turn One. The two cars touched – a collision that the race stewards swiftly judged to be a racing incident that warranted no penalty for either driver – pitching Alice’s car skywards and then into the gravel trap, ending her race there and then.
A short Safety Car period ensued, after which the three leaders – Jamie, Beitske and Fabienne, nose to tail in that order – put on a high-speed high-quality display, drawing clear of the rest of the field yet running always nose to tail themselves. In fourth place, albeit a few seconds behind Fabienne in third, was local hero Vicky Piria (ITA), but Miki Koyama (JPN), who had been quickest in FP2 yesterday, was putting Vicky under a lot of pressure and, intrepid overtaker that she is, she found her way past the Italian on lap nine.
W Series races are of a half-hour’s duration plus one lap, and at the 15-minute mark, half distance, the order was: Jamie, Beitske, Fabienne, still nose to tail, followed by Miki and Vicky, behind whom there was a small gap to Marta Garcia (ESP) in sixth just ahead of Tasmin Pepper (RSA) in seventh. Behind Tasmin, slowly dropping back, was Sarah Moore (GBR), doggedly defending a train of tightly packed cars all snapping at one another’s heels behind her.
By lap 10 Beitske was applying huge pressure on Jamie, never more than half a second behind her and often much less than that, but Jamie defended with a maturity and finesse that belied her young age, and, although several times Beitske got incredibly close, she was never able to essay a genuine overtaking manoeuvre. Even so, despite the ferocity of their battle for the lead, Jamie and Beitske began to inch ahead of Fabienne, who began to drop back inexorably, unable to keep pace with the two championship leaders, Jamie and Beitske, at the head of the field.
With eight minutes to go, the order was still unchanged, albeit the undiminished proximity of the leading pair made it a tense procession. Fabienne was still in third place, now confident that her car had not been damaged in any way by the early contact with Alice’s car, a few seconds ahead of Miki, now racing all alone in fourth place, ahead of Vicky in fifth, also running a lonely race.
On lap 12 Beitske launched a final offensive, posting a fastest lap of 1min 34.797sec, after which her front wing appeared almost attached to Jamie’s rear wing, so close were the two leading cars. On lap 15 Beitske lowered the bar again, posting a new fastest lap of 1min 34.613sec, but still Jamie held her back, cleanly and skilfully maintaining her advantage and taking the chequered flag 0.587sec ahead of the flying Dutchwoman.
In third place, after a fine drive, was Fabienne, a further 1.698sec behind Beitske, ahead of Miki (P4), Vicky (P5) and Marta, driving another unobtrusively competent race to P6, having successfully withstood a race-long attack by Tasmin, who finally had to settle for P7.
On the final lap, after having defended so resolutely for so long, Sarah was finally unable to keep Sabre Cook (USA) behind, the 24-year-old American taking eighth place after an impressive run from her P15 grid slot. Sarah therefore picked up two points for ninth, and the final point was taken by Vivien Keszthelyi (HUN), one of two reserve drivers who had started the race, the other being Sarah Bovy (BEL), who finished 12th.
Catherine Bond Muir, W Series CEO:
“There may not have been a whole lot of overtaking here at Misano this afternoon, but the race was enthralling nonetheless.
“Jamie drove brilliantly, recording her second win in three races, this time under prodigious pressure from Beitske, and I applaud both of them for putting on such a classy show of top-quality single-seater motor racing. They finished first and second in the race and it’s no surprise that they’re also first and second in the points table, Jamie leading Beitske by 68 points to 55.
“I was also very impressed by Fabienne, who took the pole this morning with a scintillating lap, and then, despite contact with Alice on lap one, recovered to race smoothly and surely to third.
“Behind Fabienne, Miki drove very well to finish fourth, while the local crowd were understandably pleased to see Vicky finish a fine fifth.”
Dave Ryan, W Series Racing Director:
“It was a bit unfortunate that the race started with a Safety Car deployment – maintaining W Series’ unenviable record of Safety Cars in all our races so far – but the race stewards made the right decision to apportion no blame to either Fabienne or Alice for their coming-together and, once the Safety Car had been recalled, what we then saw was a very fine motor race.
“Jamie’s performance was superb – she drove as fast as she needed to, but no faster, calmly repelling Beitske’s increasingly determined efforts to pass her, and duly adding 25 points more to her tally.
“I’d like to say ‘well done’ to Fabienne too. She wasn’t able to convert her excellent pole position into a win, but her third place was well earned and well deserved.”
Jamie Chadwick: “After Zolder, when I didn’t convert pole position into a lap-one lead, I really wanted to get my start right here at Misano.
“I knew there would be an opportunity down the inside so I really focused on getting that right, which fortunately I did. After that, I felt I had good pace, but Beitske kept me honest the whole way. She was always very close but I concentrated on not making mistakes, trying to reel off the laps in without making any errors.
“I managed to do that to the end, but it made for a long, hard race. She was always close, as I say, but I was under the most sustained attack from her in sector three. It’s a tricky section – you come off the back straight and into the braking zone where it’s all too easy to lock the rears and miss a downshift. But I knew that, if I didn’t make a mistake, I’d have it covered. That being the case, although she was always in my mirrors, I kept telling myself to keep my head down and focus on my own race rather than on what she was doing behind me.
“Luckily, the tyre degradation wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it would be, so I was able to stay ahead and take a really important win.”
Beitske Visser: “I was obviously trying to put pressure on Jamie all race long, and I certainly did that, but my strongest part of the lap was the last sector and in the last sector it’s pretty much impossible to overtake.
“In fact it’s quite hard to launch an overtaking move anywhere on this circuit, because you get quite a lot of understeer when you follow another car very closely. Well, I was following Jamie very closely, trying to tip her into making a mistake, but she never made one and by the end of the race my tyres were past their best owing to the understeer I’d been fighting.
“Obviously I’d prefer to have won, but second place represents 18 useful points and at the Norisring next time out I hope I can do better in qualifying and convert a good quali into 25 points.”
Fabienne Wohlwend said:
“I was confident coming here because I know the circuit well. I drove my very first Formula 4 race here in 2014, and last year I won both races here in the Ferrari Challenge.
“Even so, I was absolutely delighted to get pole position this morning. It was such a good lap – I felt fast and confident all the way around. My engineer told me ‘You’re P1’ on the radio, and, when I drove into the pits, I was watching the screen and I saw that I was still P1, and then I burst into tears because I just couldn’t believe it.
“Even then, sitting in the car, I was so afraid that Jamie and Beitske were going to beat me on their very last laps, but then I was climbing out of my car and my engineer was telling me ‘It’s OK, you’re still P1’ as the chequered flag was being waved. It was overwhelming.
“Obviously the race didn’t start so well for me, however. It was my first ever pole position start in a single-seater, and I didn’t get an ideal launch. Alice, who’d qualified on the second row, came around the outside of me – I could barely see her actually – and I think we both hit the brakes quite early, our tyres touched, and she flew into the gravel trap.
“Obviously I’m glad she’s fine but, at the time, I was worried that my front wing might have been damaged, but I just kept going flat-out, hoping everything was OK. So it seemed and actually my pace in the first of the race was very good but every time I got close to Beitske, just ahead of me, I got bad understeer.
“Overall, I’m just really happy that I could race at Jamie’s and Beitske’s pace today, and stay right with them, but at the end of the race doing that became difficult because my tyres really weren’t that good any more. But I collected 15 valuable points, and it’s my first time on the podium for W Series, so I’m very happy.
“I’m already looking forward to the Norisring. I raced in the Audi TT Cup there in 2017, and it’s a really interesting circuit, so I’m quite confident of doing well there and hopefully getting another podium finish.”