Grid Penalty Can’t Stop Chadwick’s W Series March
Jamie Chadwick’s never-ending march through W Series in 2022 has continued with her fifth win from five races this season and her seventh victory in a row. Even a two-place grid penalty handed to the Jenner Racing driver for crossing the white line at the pit-lane exit in Qualifying couldn’t stop her from reaching the top step. As a result, she now has a gigantic 75-point lead at the season’s halfway point.
Chadwick’s penalty meant that 2019 vice-champion Beitske Visser took pole position her first in W Series but the Dutch racer had no answer to Chadwick’s charge. In a race hampered by two Safety Car periods, the double champion had to work a little harder than usual to claim her win but again looked in a different league from her competitors.
Visser was joined on the front row by Nerea Marti, but the Spaniard’s slow start let Chadwick breeze past into second place just 10 meters into the race. Fortunately for Marti, she wasn’t the only slow starter, and she only fell to P4, behind her Quantfury teammate Belen Garcia. The slow getaways had allowed a highly qualified Abbi Eaton to try and pass from P6. Unfortunately, a massive speed differential between Eaton and those ahead saw the Scuderia W driver run into the back of her rivals a dramatic moment had her red car in the air on two wheels. Eaton landed hard, breaking her car’s rear suspension, and leaving the Brit out of the race before it began.
Meanwhile, Chadwick had inched right behind Visser into the first corner and was on her 2019 nemesis’ tail out of the opening chicane. An opportunistic move from Chadwick on the outside on Turn 3 coupled with an overly cautious Visser on the inside line allowed the Brit to take the lead before the drivers had even completed one sector. In even better news for Chadwick, she would remain unchallenged for a few more laps as the race director called the Safety Car out to the track to clear Eaton’s broken car.
Chadwick had a great getaway when the race resumed and left those chasing her well behind when she reached Turn 1. No positions changed at the front, but at the back, the two rookies of Emely de Heus and Chloe Chambers crashed at Turn 3. De Heus had attacked the inside line as Chambers had turned in to take the right-hander resulting in the pair coming together. De Heus could continue, but Chamber’s day was over. Her broken Jenner Racing car required the Safety Car’s services to recover it.
On the second restart, Visser wasn’t caught out and appeared to have learned Chadwick’s earlier method. The Sirin driver kept close to the Brit’s rear wing, and the two battled down the pit straight. Visser’s exit from the final turn was enough to have her overtake into Turn 1, but Chadwick wasn’t going to give up easily. The championship leader fought back. The pair, plus Belen Garcia in P3, ran nose-to-tail through the first sector, with Chadwick coming out on top.
Garcia now sensed an opportunity to pass Visser, who had slowed down in the fight with Chadwick. The Spanish racer sped down the Mistral Straight and overtook Visser into the Nord Chicane. Visser appeared to fight back as the pair exited the corner sequence, but she lost the position when they returned to the straight, and Belen Garcia would open a gap to P3 that was never closed.
Sadly, for Visser, her tough day in the office wasn’t over, and she would drop from pole position to P4, not even making the podium. After running onto the marbles in the third sector, Visser ran off the track and allowed Marti to take P3 without needing an on-track overtake. Unfortunately for Visser, the two Spanish Quantfury teammates had passed in just a few minutes, and Visser would have to settle for fourth place, despite her strong qualifying performance.
The remainder of the race had no changes at the front but saw the CortDAO drivers, Fabienne Wohlwend and Marta Garcia, engage in thrilling wheel-to-wheel action all over the circuit. Their scraps had allowed Alice Powell to break through to take fifth place, but Garcia took the bragging rights in the pink team in P6, leaving Wohlwend in seventh. Abbi Pulling lost out to Sarah Moore while keeping an eye on the CortDAO fight and finished P9 behind Moore, with Jessica Hawkins rounding out the top ten.
When speaking to Fortloc after the race, Jamie Chadwick explained the difference between the two Safety Car restarts:
“The first one, I think I went quite early. That was quite a good place to go. And at that point of the race, I had a lot of confidence. Before the restart, I had quite a big gap, so I knew that the more time I could have at racing speed, the better.
“For the second one, I was a bit caught out because the safety car board stayed on for the rest of the lap. So, I went to push but wasn’t sure if the safety car was actually staying out again or if it was coming in because the boards hadn’t gone away. So, I was a bit caught out or distracted by that.”
Belen Garcia might be celebrating her first W Series podium, but she still had one eye on taking her first win instead:
“I was pushing a lot. I tried to catch Jamie. I was looking forwards; never backward, but I knew I had to manage the gap behind me because I know Nerea [Marti] is fast as well.
“But I always try to go forwards and that’s what I did. I couldn’t keep the fastest lap in the end, but the pace was good. I tried my best to be P1, but she [Chadwick] did well.”
Finally, Nerea Marti now heads to the site of her first W Series silverware in Hungary next week after her second podium finish in 2022:
“I love Budapest. I hope to put in my A-game there. I will be working from Free Practice so let’s see what happens there. Of course, I want to a result there.”
Originally published at Fortloc.