Kimiläinen produces brilliant drive to win W Series Spa-Francorchamps round

Finland’s Emma Kimiläinen produced one of the drives of her career to overtake defending champion Jamie Chadwick and Alice Powell and take a breath-taking victory at Spa-Francorchamps.

Kimiläinen, who had started the season well with points in all previous rounds, began the race from fourth on the grid. And in challenging conditions, the 32-year-old Finn began to reel in her prey with the laps dwindling, superb passes on both drivers netting her the race victory.

In the closing stages, it was Marta Garcia who came home third to take her first W Series podium ahead of Powell, who faded in the final laps. Australia’s Caitlin Wood came home fifth ahead of Jessica Hawkins, Fabienne Wohlwend and Nerea Marti as Miki Koyama and Abbie Eaton rounded out the top ten.

“This is such an amazing feeling! I had a really good car and I have to thank my engineer, driver coach and mechanic for getting everything spot on today,” commented Kimiläinen after the race victory. “The Ecurie W team is rocking and this track is just amazing – it’s great to be here and race in front of this lovely crowd.

“More wins are what I’m aiming for in the remainder of the season. It hasn’t been the easiest start to the year for me, but anything can happen from here and I’m still aiming for the title, that’s for sure. If you want to win, get the Finn!”

That’s not really to tell half of the story of a dramatic race weekend. Amidst treacherous conditions during Friday qualifying, a number of drivers slid off at the iconic Eau Rouge leading to a frightening pile-up. Among them was Beitske Visser.

“It was, of course, a very bad accident during qualifying on Friday – the worst I have been involved in in my career so far – but I’m glad I’m relatively okay,” reflected Visser. “I still have pain, but luckily there are no fractures and that is a great relief.

“I was going towards Eau Rouge and then it suddenly started to rain. I saw two cars in front of me lost the rear and had already come off the gas but, because it was so wet, I couldn’t hold the back end either. I was praying I wouldn’t hit the others, then I saw several cars coming towards me and I was praying they wouldn’t hit me too hard.


“These cars are absolutely safe, although I was lucky this time. I was hit three times hard from different angles and still managed to get out of the car on my own, so I think someone was with me – I had an angel on my shoulder.

“It’s perfect to be back in the car at Zandvoort next week – I’ll definitely be there. After such a serious crash, I think you should get back in the car as soon as possible.”

As far as the championship battle goes after a dramatic weekend of racing, it’s still Chadwick who holds a seven-point advantage over compatriot Powell with just three rounds remaining.

“I had no answer to Emma [Kimiläinen] today,” said Chadwick. “She was really impressive and just seemed to be able to use better parts of the track for the tyres. From my point of view, it’s still a good day for the championship because I finished ahead of Alice [Powell] and, all things considered, I’m just happy to come through that race unscathed because it was pretty tricky out there.

“I wanted to go racing when we started behind the safety car, but we managed the situation well and Emma [Kimiläinen] simply did a better job today so all credit to her.”


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