W Series unveils initial 55-driver list
The all-female W Series has released a list of 55 contenders for a spot on the 18-driver grid for its inaugural campaign next year.
The championship, backed by the likes of former grand prix winner David Coulthard and esteemed F1 tech chief Adrian Newey, was announced in October with a $1.5 million prize fund and no budget requirements from prospective participants.
It is set to be held over six rounds in 2019 and use F3-specification Tatuus T-318 machinery.
The organisers say they have been contacted by “more than 100 applicants from 30 countries around the world”, from which the current 'longlist' was selected.
“We are thrilled but perhaps not surprised by the response,” series CEO Catherine Bond Muir said.
“Even today there is a massive gender imbalance in motorsport and W Series is making the first step to correct that.
“Drivers from all over the world have stepped forward, so it's clear that with the right framework we can make the changes this sport desperately needs.”
BMW-backed former Red Bull junior Beitske Visser, ex-Renault Sport Academy driver Marta Garcia, former Lotus F1 tester Carmen Jorda and British GT class champion Jamie Chadwick are among the highest-profile names in the initial roster, which includes racers from a wide array of categories.
Alongside Jorda are fellow former GP3 full-timers Vicky Piria, Samin Gomez and Alice Powell, the latter a champion in Formula Renault UK and Asia categories, while a number of sportswomen with entry-level open-wheel experience from various F4 categories have also applied.
Photo by: GP3 Series Media Service
The USA racing scene is represented by several names from the Road to Indy - among them former F1600 champion Ayla Agren - but also competitors from other forms of circuit motorsport, most notably 21-year-old Natalie Decker, who made headlines by taking pole for the ARCA opener at the Daytona oval earlier this year.
Former single-seater and STCC driver Emma Kimilainen and Lamborghini Super Trofeo racer Shea Holbrook are some of the more experienced drivers in the list.
Also featuring is Sarah Moore, who won the BTCC-supporting Ginetta Junior series all the way back in 2009.
This list is to be whittled down to a final grid of 18 after “a three-day on-and-off-track trial” and a subsequent series of track tests with the W Series car.
The selection panel will include Coulthard, series racing director Dave Ryan and former F1 driver Alex Wurz.
Powell, Piria, Holbrook, Kimilainen, Naomi Schiff and Stephane Kox will represent the series in ambassadorial roles during this weekend's Autosport Awards in London.
|Ayla Agren||25||Road to Indy, F1600 (champion)|
|Amna Al Qubaisi||18||Italian F4|
|Chelsea Angelo||22||Supercars Development Series|
|Carmen Boix Gil||22||NASCAR Whelen Euro|
|Sarah Bovy||29||Lamborghini Super Trofeo|
|Toni Breidinger||19||USAC Midget, ARCA|
|Ivana Cetinich||22||Kart racing|
|Jamie Chadwick||20||British F3, British GT (GT4 champion)|
|Veronika Cicha||31||Boss GP|
|Sabre Cook||24||Road to Indy, US F4|
|Courtney Crone||17||Formula Car Challenge|
|Mira Erda||18||JK Tyre Championship|
|Cassie Gannis||27||NASCAR K&N|
|Marta Garcia||18||Spanish F4|
|Michelle Gatting||24||Danish Supertourisme|
|Angelique Germann||27||Austrian F3|
|Megan Gilkes||17||F1200 Canada|
|Grace Gui||27||Asian Formula Renault|
|Michelle Halder||19||TCR Germany|
|Esmee Hawkey||20||Porsche Carrera Cup GB|
|Jessica Hawkins||23||Mini Challenge|
|Shea Holbrook||28||Lamborghini Super Trofeo|
|Vivien Keszthelyi||17||Audi SS R8 Cup|
|Natalia Kowalska||28||Formula Two|
|Stephane Kox||24||GT4 European|
|Miki Koyama||21||Japanese F4|
|Fabienne Lanz||32||Kart racing|
|Milla Makela||25||Finnish Formula Ford|
|Alexandra Marinescu||18||British F4|
|Milou Mets||28||LMV8 Oval Series|
|Sheena Monk||29||Lamborghini Super Trofeo|
|Sarah Moore||25||LMP3, Ginetta Junior (champion)|
|Marylin Niederhauser||22||GT4 European|
|Tasmin Pepper||28||VW Engen Polo Cup|
|Vicky Piria||25||GP3, European F3 Open|
|Taegen Poles||20||Kart racing|
|Alice Powell||25||GP3, Formula Renault UK (champion)|
|Charlotte Poynting||20||Aussie Racing Cars|
|Naomi Schiff||24||Formula Renault 2.0, GT4 European|
|Carrie Schreiner||20||Lamborghini Super Trofeo (Middle East Pro-Am champion)|
|Sharon Scolari||23||Formula Renault 2.0|
|Doreen Seidel||33||VW Scirocco, GT4 European|
|Siti Shahkirah||24||F4 SEA|
|Sneha Sharma||28||JK Tyre Championship|
|Bruna Tomaselli||21||Road to Indy|
|Shirley van der Lof||32||German F3|
|Beitske Visser||23||Formula Renault 3.5, GT4 European|
|Fabienne Wohlwend||21||Ferrari Europe|
|Caitlin Wood||21||Blancpain GT|
|Hanna Zellers||21||US F4, IMSA Prototype Challenge|
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