South African driver Tasmin Pepper was in the points in the first ever W Series race for women drivers at Hockenheim, bringing her car home in eighth place from 17th on the grid.
The race started hectically with a coming together between Emma Kimilainen and Megan Gilkes on the opening lap with Pepper one of those forced to ensure they avoided the carnage – letting the leading group get even further away.
British driver Jamie Chadwick, 20, stood on the top step of the podium at Hockenheim to become the first ever W Series race winner. The pole sitter had to cope with strong opposition from the 17 other drivers in the first race of the first ever single-seater series for female drivers only, but she mastered the tricky conditions in what was a closely fought opening round to the six-race competition.
Very wet conditions in qualifying were a challenge for all the W Series drivers, but Bath-born Jamie was at the top of the time sheets for most of the 25-minute session, Fabienne Wohlwend (from Liechtenstein) claiming the other front-row starting position and another Brit, Sarah Moore, third on the grid.
As weather conditions improved ahead of the race and the 18 cars lined up behind the start-line, nerves were understandably kicking in for all the drivers, but they did not show it. Jamie made a perfect start to lead the field; however, a brake issue for her at the hairpin gave Sarah a window of opportunity to steal the lead, which she duly did.
Then, still on lap one, a collision at Turn Six resulted in Megan Gilkes (CAN) and Emma Kimiläinen (FIN) retiring and the Safety Car being deployed so that their damaged cars could be moved out of the way.
Then all eyes turned to Alice Powell (GBR) who climbed from P6 to P2, creating an exciting Brit-versus-Brit-versus-Brit battle at the head of the field. But Jamie fought hard to restore her lead, Alice hot on her heels in second and Marta Garcia (ESP) storming through to third, a line-up that then continued all the way to the chequered flag.
Behind that three-way battle there were some great fightbacks, several drivers making up places from lowly starting positions, among them Tasmin Pepper (RSA), who drove from 16th to eighth; but Miki Koyama (JAP) drove even more forcefully, moving from 17th on the grid to seventh at the flag, not only setting the fastest lap of the race but the second-fastest too, just 0.001sec slower than her best.
Jamie Chadwick said after the race: “The win feels great. Going into the race, the conditions were tricky which made things a bit more difficult but off the back of qualifying and the back of yesterday, I really was pushing to get the first win.
“Losing the lead to Sarah caught me out a bit. I couldn’t get the car stopped at the hairpin and had a bit of an issue where I couldn’t get down the gears but, when the Safety Car went back in, I knew I had a good opportunity get the lead back and win.”
Full Race Results
Pos. No. Driver Nationality Laps Time Difference Gap
1 55 Jamie Chadwick GBR 18 32:59.079
2 27 Alice Powell GBR 18 33:00.408 01.329 01.329
3 19 Marta Garcia ESP 18 33:00.771 00.363 01.692
4 95 Beitske Visser NLD 18 33:02.552 01.781 03.473
5 26 Sarah Moore GBR 18 33:04.850 02.298 05.771
6 5 Fabienne Wohlwend LIE 18 33:06.128 01.278 07.049
7 85 Miki Koyama JPN 18 33:07.890 01.762 08.811
8 31 Tasmin Pepper RSA 18 33:16.215 08.325 17.136
9 3 Gosia Rdest POL 18 33:17.968 01.753 18.889
10 20 Caitlin Wood AUS 18 33:19.463 01.495 20.384