Jamie Chadwick off to a fast start as W Series races under the Singapore lights

Jamie Chadwick (Jenner Racing, 24, UK) set the pace in practice for the seventh race of the 2022 season as W Series made its debut in Asia.

The reigning double champion can win her third straight W Series championship title this weekend, and that bid got off to the perfect start in Singapore on Friday night. Jamie topped the session – which was twice interrupted by red flags – with her final flying lap of 2:13.529. Abbi Pulling (Racing X, 19, UK) was more than half a second behind in second place, and Alice Powell (Click2Drive Bristol Street Motors Racing W Series Team, 29, UK) was a further two tenths adrift in third.

They were the only two drivers to get within a second of Jamie’s benchmark. Jamie – who has won five of the six races so far this season – holds a 75-point lead at the top of the championship standings with four races remaining and a maximum 100 points to be won. If Jamie finishes higher than nearest challengers Alice, Beitske Visser (Sirin Racing W Series Team, 27, NED) – who was fifth quickest in practice at Marina Bay – and Abbi in Sunday's race, then title number three will be hers.

Belen García (Quantfury W Series Team, 22, ESP) was fourth quickest, two tenths faster than Beitske, who was less than one tenth ahead of Nerea Martí (Quantfury W Series Team, 20, ESP). Fabienne Wohlwend (CortDAO Racing W Series Team, 24, LIE), Sarah Moore (Scuderia W, 28, UK), Jessica Hawkins (Click2Drive Bristol Street Motors Racing W Series Team, 27, UK), and Marta Garcia (CortDAO Racing W Series Team, 21, ESP) completed the top 10.

Friday's practice session represented W Series' first-ever session at night, and the cars sparkled under the Marina Bay Street Circuit's iconic floodlights. The 'W' on the nosecones of all 18 turned pink to mark the start of Breast Cancer Awareness Month this weekend. In addition, those of the six British drivers carried a commemorative message for Lorraine Gathercole, Chair of the British Women Racing Drivers Club (BWRDC) and racing driver, who died this week.

The track surface was dusty, but Alice quickly got to grips with it, going faster than the field by almost a second after the first flying laps. However, while pushing hard to find more time on her second run, the Briton spun at the final corner. That allowed team-mate Jessica to hit the front with 10 of the 30 minutes gone, when the session was red-flagged after Chloe Chambers (Jenner Racing, 18, USA) hit the wall at Turn 8.

During the six-minute delay, Jamie and Fabienne collided in the pit-lane, and that incident was being investigated by the stewards after the session. When proceedings restarted, Alice regained top spot with just under a third of the session remaining when she became the first driver to dip below 2:15.000. But, just moments later, after most of the drivers had completed their sixth lap, the session was red-flagged for a second time when Bianca Bustamante (W Series Academy, 17, PHI) stopped at Turn 3.  

After the circuit was cleared and with three minutes left on the clock, there was just time for the drivers to set one more flying lap time. Alice failed to beat her best effort, but Abbi and Jamie both went quicker than their compatriot. Jamie – despite completing two fewer laps than anyone in the top 13 – was the only driver to go under 2:14.000 as she beat Abbi by 0.568 seconds. 

Toyota Gazoo Racing New Zealand (TGRNZ) is supporting W Series with the logistics required to get racing cars to F1 race weekends in the most sustainable way this year. Toyota sent 18 of its FT60 cars to be used by W Series at the third race of the season at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, Spain, in May, and are doing the same this weekend when W Series is supporting the Formula 1® Singapore Airlines Singapore Grand Prix 2022.

W Series uses identical Tatuus chassis to the Toyota Racing Series, but with different engines, and the cars being used in Singapore retain their Toyota engines. Sharing cars between the two championships helps to manage logistics and enables the use of sea, as opposed to air freight, keeping the series' carbon footprint as low as possible.

Jamie Chadwick (Jenner Racing, 24, UK) said:
"It was a bit messy, and I had a little issue at the beginning as well, so I only got a couple of laps in. For all of us it is trying to find the limits without getting caught out as there are so many variables around here. It was so special to be able to drive under the lights, and when we went out first it was so cool. There isn't a lot of margin for error out there and you don't want to make any mistakes in practice and hinder the rest of your weekend. The simulator doesn't do the circuit justice at all. It is going to be hard tomorrow."

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