When W Series announced its project earlier in the year, reactions were — to say the least — mixed.
A women-only racing championship, W Series aims to find the brightest talent among female racing drivers. The goal is not only to unearth skilled drivers among the current crop, but to encourage younger drivers into the sport. Along with being free to enter, W Series will fund travel and subsistence costs for its chosen drivers to the six races in 2019. A first place prize of $500,000 will provide additional funding for the winner to move into higher tiers of motorsport.
Opinions varied from the positive to the overwhelmingly negative, with no particular gender divide. But this hasn’t stopped a remarkable uptake among female racing drivers. In total, W Series received more than 100 applications, from drivers in 30 countries around the world.
Not all applicants were successful, and W Series has now announced a list of 55 drivers who will enter a testing phase to become one of the 18 competitors next year. This three-day interview covers fitness tests and psychometric profiling, along with on-track driving skill tests. The final test involves driving the series’ official car, the Tatuus T-318.
There’s a huge variety in backgrounds of the list of qualifiers. Among the most recognizable names on the list is Carmen Jorda, a former F1 test driver for Lotus and on the FIA’s Women in Motorsport Commission. There’s also the UK’s Jamie Chadwick, who recently became the first woman to win a British F3 race, having previously been the first female, and youngest, winner of the British GT Championship. She’s also a handy sim-racing gamer!
Other notable entrants include Stephane Kox, daughter of GT racer Peter Kox and KTM GT4 driver in the European GT4 Championship. Another second generation racer is Amna Al Qubaisi, the first ever female racing driver from the United Arab Emirates and whose father, Khaled, manages the Abu Dhabi Racing team. Finland’s Emma Kimilainen drives the Tesla Model S race car in the Electric GT series, while Jessica Hawkins does stunts for Fast and Furious Live when not racing in the MINI Challenge.
David Coulthard, part of the W Series advisory board and testing judge said:
“We designed W Series specifically to shine a light on female talent right around the world. I can’t wait to be part of the next stage and to see some of that talent in action.”
The final 18 will take their place on the grid at the first race, at Hockenheim, on May 3 2019.