Reigning double W Series champion Jamie Chadwick (Jenner Racing, 23, UK) made the perfect start to her title defence by winning a dramatic first race of the season-opening double-header at W Series Miami presented by Hard Rock.
Jamie took the lead on the first lap and regained it on the last lap of the race – which featured two safety car periods and one red flag – to take her third straight W Series race victory and seventh overall. Jamie beat Marta Garcia (CortDAO Racing W Series Team, 21, ESP) – who started 10th on the grid – by three seconds as the Spaniard secured the fourth podium of her W Series career. Jessica Hawkins (Click2Drive Bristol Street Motors Racing W Series Team, 27, UK) took third place on the final lap to score her maiden W Series podium finish.
Beitske Visser (Sirin Racing W Series Team, 27, NED) – runner-up to Jamie in the inaugural W Series season in 2019 – went from 12th on the grid to fourth. Abbi Pulling (Racing X, 19, UK) was fifth, one place above her team-mate Bruna Tomaselli (Racing X, 24, BRA) who progressed from 14th on the grid to sixth.
Chloe Chambers (Jenner Racing, 17, USA) – one of five drivers making their W Series debuts this weekend in support of the inaugural Formula 1® Crypto.com Miami Grand Prix – was the best-placed rookie in seventh. Pole-sitter Nerea Martí (Quantfury Racing W Series Team, 20, ESP) recovered from a poor start to finish eighth ahead of compatriot and team-mate Belen Garcia (Quantfury Racing W Series Team, 22, ESP), and Sarah Moore (Scuderia W, 28, UK) completed the top 10.
Nerea secured her maiden W Series pole position in qualifying on Saturday morning, but the Spaniard couldn't capitalise. At a baking hot Miami International Autodrome – where the track temperature soared past 50 degrees Celsius – both Nerea and Alice Powell (Click2Drive Bristol Street Motors Racing W Series Team, 29, UK), who started third, were slow away from the starting grid, allowing Jamie to take the lead at the start.
Alice was relegated to the rear of the field and, while attempting to make up places on lap one, hit the wall at Turn 8 to bring out the safety car. Marta and Abbie Eaton (Scuderia W, 30, UK) were the biggest winners from those early exchanges, making up six and seven places respectively to move into the top six.
As Alice's car was lifted away and repairs to the barriers continued, the race was red-flagged and the cars returned to the pit-lane. There were 18 minutes of the 30-minutes plus one lap race remaining when the action resumed behind the safety car, and 15 minutes left when it pulled into the pits again.
At the restart, Emma was right on Jamie's tail on the run to Turn 1, but the Briton held on. Behind them, Marta passed team-mate Fabienne Wohlwend (CortDAO Racing W Series Team, 24, LIE) for third place with a late-braking move up the inside on the entry to Turn 11. Emma made another attempt to pass Jamie at the end of the long straight at Turn 17, but was denied again as Jamie led by half a second with a third of the race to go.
With eight minutes left, Abbie and Fabienne made contact at Turn 4, and moments later Emma passed Jamie for the lead at Turn 11 before the safety car was deployed for a second time to allow Abbie's and Fabienne's cars to be removed.
The clock had run down to zero when the safety car exited to leave a one-lap shootout to the finish. Emma ran wide on the exit of Turn 1 allowing Jamie to regain the lead and Marta to move up to second. Emma tried to fight back past Marta around the outside at Turn 17, but the pair made contact and, as Emma spun, Marta held on to second place and Jessica moved up to third.
Jamie Chadwick (Jenner Racing, 23, UK) said:
"I don't know if I deserved that victory. Emma [Kimiläinen] got a bit unlucky with the restart, not knowing if it was going to be a proper restart or not. I struggled for pace, and she did a good job to get past when she caught me out. I was just trying to get some points as I was struggling. It's a win and I'm a bit surprised by that but I'll take it and I'm happy as it's a great start to the season. We're on pole position tomorrow as well so I'm looking forward to that."
Marta Garcia (CortDAO Racing W Series Team, 21, ESP) said:
"It was a great race for me! Last year, my starts weren't very good so I wasn't sure how it was going to be this time, but today it was strong. I made a really good move into the first corner, then there was a safety car period which was quite long. At the restart, I was in a big fight with my team-mate Fabienne [Wohlwend], I managed to pass her into third and tried my best to stay there.
"When the last safety car came out, I wanted to finish the race then because I was in a podium place! On the last lap it was crazy, Emma [Kimiläinen] went wide into the first corner and I overtook her, then she tried to overtake me in the last corner but she was on the outside and I was on my line and we touched. I'm just really happy with the result and looking forward to tomorrow's race."
Jessica Hawkins (Click2Drive Bristol Street Motors Racing W Series Team, 27, UK) said:
"Today was just about the perfect way to start the season with my first W Series podium. It was such a chaotic race, but I managed to stay out of trouble and keep pushing. I'm a bit lost for words, but I can tell you that it feels great and I'm very happy. We've got another race to focus on tomorrow and I'm hoping for another strong performance."
Dave Ryan (Racing Director, W Series) said:
"Well I've never seen anything quite like that race to be honest! It's the first time at this track, it's really hot, and the drivers are all a bit rusty, but lots of them will have to have a long, hard think overnight and come back stronger. We'll put that one behind us and start again tomorrow."
Race one results, championship standings and the starting grid for race two from W Series Miami presented by Hard Rock are below. For full W Series results and session timings from the 2022 season-opening double-header in Miami visit https://wseries.com/races/miami/.