Powell wins dramatic W Series opener in Styria from compatriot Moore

Alice Powell hammered home her dominant weekend in Saturday’s practice and qualifying by heading home compatriot Sarah Moore to secure victory in the season opening W Series race at the Red Bull Ring.

That Powell secured a deserved victory in the opening race is only to tell half the story, as a dramatic start to the race saw defending champion Jamie Chadwick gain three places to challenge the leaders before being nerfed off the circuit by Jess Hawkins, who appeared to brake too late.

Apart from that early drama behind, Powell was in a class of her own, never challenged until the chequered flag. It gives the British driver fair confidence for the races ahead.

“I saw Marta’s car on the side of the track and I was dreading the safety car coming out, but I managed to keep control,” commented Powell. “I knew I had the pace, so it was just about staying consistent and bringing it home. I struggled for the first couple of laps to push but I knew the pace would be there, and I was just focused on going forward.

“It’s the perfect start and an amazing feeling, better than I had in 2019, so a massive thanks to W Series and F1 for such a great weekend.”

It left Powell still leading the race from Moore and Belen Garcia, as 2019 runner-up and W Series Esports League champion Beitske Visser took advantage to close on the leaders.

Still the drama was far from over, Garcia running wide at Turn 6 with an unlucky 13 minutes of the race remaining, promoting Visser to a valuable podium position. Yet with just laps remaining, the Dutchwoman was clipped by Emma Kimilainen, sending her pirouetting to the back of the field.

The big beneficiary? Chadwick, who utilised all of her race craft and nous to somehow recover to ahead of where she started. And that could be crucial come the end of the season.

“I stalled on the formation lap but managed to get away well at the start of the race to keep a little bit of pressure on Alice. The safety car came out and I was under pressure from behind at the restart, but Beitske’s spin gave me some room at the end of the race. Coming off the back of 2019 and the way that ended, this is such a boost.”

Fraser Masefield

Sports news and features writer, web editor and author.