Rivals primed to reignite W Series battle as Chadwick beats Visser to Austria pole

Before the start of the 2021 W Series, most eyes were reasonably on a Jamie Chadwick versus Beitske Visser battle, a renewal of the rivalry from the inaugural 2019 championship.

That scenario was thrown something of a curve ball during the opening round, when British driver Alice Powell led home compatriot Sarah Moore, Chadwick recovering from an early spin to finish sixth with Visser only 13th.

Whether or not the year break between series had any bearing, Chadwick also competing in other series, may be debatable. But the Veloce team driver certainly regained her form during Friday’s qualifying session, pipping Visser by 0.118s to take pole position for Saturday’s race.

“I’m really happy and I think that makes up for last weekend. That’s the first job done, and tomorrow is the second job, so I’m happy to get that one out of the way,” commented Chadwick.

“We had planned to do a few more laps on the used tyres to get a better feel with less fuel on the new tyres but, to be honest, the new tyres took a little longer than we thought. Fortunately, it all came together then and I’m happy with the result.”

For Visser, who was clipped by Emma Kimiläinen in the opening race, it’s certainly all to play for as the Dutchwoman looks to kick-start her title campaign.

“It was a good improvement from last week and being on the front row tomorrow is a good start,” added Visser. “Hopefully I can have a better start than Jamie and take the lead, but it’s going be a close one around this track. We made a few changes on the set-up compared to last week which paid off and I’ve been working hard.”

It will be by no means an easy task for the front row duo to escape the clutches of those behind, Kimiläinen lining up ahead of Tomaselli on the second row. But it was something of an alarming fall from grace for last weekend’s top two, Powell only managing an unlucky 13th on the grid with Moore four places ahead of her.

“There were some issues today, but we overcame them,” commented Kimiläinen. “There were some technical issues with the car, so we are going to fix it and see what it is. I’m very proud of my team for how quickly they changed the rear roll-bar and tyres even though we had pressure because of the time.

“Then I could get myself together and put in some good lap times in the end. That part I’m really happy about, but I have the penalty so will start from sixth. It is not as bad as it could be. I will start from there and I’m really happy because I know I have the pace to be on the podium.”

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Fraser Masefield

Sports news and features writer, web editor and author.