Australian Caitlin Wood is one of the 18 ladies who have been named as the drivers for the inaugural W Series season.
The judges of the all-female open-wheeler competition whittled down a field of 28 to the final 18 plus four reserves after four days of testing in the series’ Tatuus T-318 cars at Almeria, Spain.
Wood, from Maitland, near Newcastle, represents one of 13 nationalities on the grid, while New Zealand-based Queenslander Alexandra Whitley missed out.
See below for full list of selections
According to organisers, W Series Racing Director Dave Ryan was able to lock in a dozen drivers on the morning of the final day of the test (Wednesday, local time) before the rest competed for the final six places, although the split has not been disclosed.
W Series CEO Catherine Bond Muir said, “After four intensive days’ testing in Almeria, finishing yesterday, and four equally rigorous days’ trials in Melk in January, as you can imagine we’d amassed a huge amount of data.
“So our judges, led by Dave Ryan, then crunched that data in order to determine who would be the 18 drivers to contest the first ever single-seater racing series for female drivers: W Series.
“To those drivers who didn’t make it through, I offer my commiserations, of course, but I also say ‘well done’.
“All our drivers worked diligently, studied hard, and drove well, including those who didn’t make it through.
“To the 18 drivers who did make it through, I say ‘big congrats and very well done’.
“But I also want to mention our four reserve drivers, who didn’t quite make the final 18 but all impressed our judges. They’ll be disappointed, inevitably, but they’re still part of the W Series family.”
David Coulthard, the series’ Advisory Board Chairman, added, “This has been a more difficult selection process than we ever could have dreamt of in terms of how close it has been across the field.
“The rate of learning has been really impressive to see, and that’s absolutely what we need to see in those who have relatively little experience in single-seaters, but have got natural speed.
“The emotion attached to it has got nothing whatever to do with whether they’re male or female. It’s just that, having had the pleasure of being a professional driver, I know how privileged that is, and I sincerely want all of them who have gone through this process to have professional racing careers at whatever level their talent will allow them to go to.
“This represents today one big step closer to them realising that dream, and I think everyone at W Series can be proud of their contribution to putting these racers on track, who just happen to be women.”
The field had been cut back from the approximately 54 drivers who were shortlisted for the first stage of selection at the Wachauring in Austria in February, when they were put through a variety of exercises in road cars in icy conditions.
It was at that stage that the other two Australian aspirants, Chelsea Angelo and Charlotte Poynting, dropped out of the running.
There will be a test at the Lausitzring in Germany on April 14-16 before Round 1 on the DTM support bill at Hockenheim on May 3-5.
View this post on Instagram
I DID IT! W Series Class of 2019!!! I’m so happy to be a part of this inaugural year, it’s been such a great time here in Spain pushing me to my limits. A full racing season covered is what everyone dreams of and it’s finally a reality. Bring it on, I’m so ready 💪 #WSeries #F3 #DrivingFemaleTalent
W Series drivers
Jamie Chadwick, UK
Sabre Cook, USA
Marta Garcia, Spain
Megan Gilkes, Canada
Esmee Hawkey, UK
Jessica Hawkins, UK
Shea Holbrook, USA
Emma Kimilainen, Finland
Miki Koyama, Japan
Sarah Moore, UK
Tasmin Pepper, South Africa
Vicky Piria, Italy
Alice Powell, UK
Gosia Rdest, Poland
Naomi Schiff, Belgium
Beitske Visser, Netherlands
Fabienne Wohlwend, Liechtenstein
Caitlin Wood, Australia
Sarah Bovy, Belgium
Vivien Keszthelyi, Hungary
Stephane Kox, Netherlands
Francesca Linossi, Italy