Beitske Visser (Sirin Racing W Series Team, 27, NED) 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 (Jenner Racing, 24, UK) retired from a W Series race for the first time.
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 (Click2Drive Bristol Street Motors Racing W Series Team, 29, UK). Pole-sitter Marta Garcia (CortDAO Racing W Series Team, 21, ESP) 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 (Quantfury W Series Team, 22, ESP) finished fourth but, behind her, compatriots Jessica Hawkins (Click2Drive Bristol Street Motors Racing W Series Team, 27, UK), Abbi Pulling (Racing X, 19, UK), and Sarah Moore (Scuderia W, 28, UK) crossed the line little more than one tenth of a second apart in fifth, sixth, and seventh place respectively.
Fabienne Wohlwend (CortDAO Racing W Series Team, 24, LIE), Emma Kimiläinen (Puma W Series Team, 33, FIN), 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 (Jenner Racing, 18, USA) and Abbie by one place each.
Marta started from pole position for the second time in her W Series career as a result of her brilliant lap in torrential rain on Saturday, 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.
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.
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.
Beitske Visser (Sirin Racing W Series Team, 27, NED) said:
"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. Alice was a bit quicker after that, but I managed to hold her off and at the end I was strong again. I had to defend from her once, but after that I knew at which points I had to push to make sure she couldn't try a move and then it was fine. 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!"
Alice Powell (Click2Drive Bristol Street Motors Racing W Series Team, 29, UK) said:
"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. Fair play to Beitske, she drove fantastically, kept her cool and it was up to me to make her make a small mistake or for her car to really go off. Then, my car went off and the front tyres totally gave up as we were following her so closely for so long. A big shout out to Daz, Tom and Cameron – they have done an amazing job for the Bristol Street Motors Team all weekend. Obviously, we have dropped down a little bit in the championship, but there are still three races left and this is W Series where anything can happen. I'm looking forward to it."
Marta Garcia (CortDAO Racing W Series Team, 21, ESP) said:
"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. In the first laps I was struggling a bit because I was not amazing in the dry in free practice, so I knew I had to improve some stuff. Beitske was not that far ahead, but I knew Alice was really fast behind me. I tried to defend, but it was difficult because she was quite fast and she ended up overtaking me. When I was P3 I was able to find more rhythm and I'm still happy with third. 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."
Dave Ryan (Racing Director, W Series) said:
"I've got to admit, one of the engineers asked me at the beginning of the weekend who I thought might win the race and I did say Beitske, but I've had no interference whatsoever! There wasn't much overtaking and Jamie tried very hard but we saw what happened to her. 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. There was all sorts going on behind but it was really, really difficult to pass. So, it was just one of those things really. 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."
For full W Series results and session timings from the seventh race of the 2022 W Series season at the Marina Bay Street Circuit, Singapore, click here.
The 2022 W Series season continues at the Circuit of the Americas, Austin, Texas, USA, on 22-23 October in support of the Formula 1® Aramco United States Grand Prix 2022.