W Series Esports League: Spanish Stars Shine Brightest at Suzuka

Marta Garcia moved up to second place in the W Series Esports League by winning two of the three races at Suzuka where she was the top-scorer for the third round in a row.

The 19-year-old was victorious in the first and third races of Round Seven at the iconic Japanese circuit, and came from last on the grid to fourth in the reverse-grid race. That was won by fellow Spaniard Belen Garcia who became the sixth different W Series Esports League race-winner.

Marta scored 56 points – her best result at a single round – to go into second place ahead of Irina Sidorkova. Marta is 51 points behind W Series Esports League leader Beitske Visser with three rounds remaining. The Dutch driver, 25, topped both qualifying sessions but failed to convert either of those pole positions into a victory. Beitske’s best result was a runner-up finish in race one and she also recorded the fastest lap in the first two races for a total of 39 points. That tally was matched by Nerea Marti and Ayla Agren who scored one podium finish each to move up to fifth and seventh respectively in the League table.

Guest drivers Hannah Grisham and Gabriela Jilkova – who both tested for W Series on-track in Almeria, Spain, last year – impressed on their W Series Esports League debuts. Czech driver Gabriela, 25, was second in the reverse-grid race, while American Hannah, 20, recorded top-10 finishes in the second and third races. As guest drivers, they are not eligible to score W Series Esports League points.

The W Series Esports League table after Round Seven is as follows:

195Beitske Visser330
219Marta Garcia279
351Irina Sidorkova257
420Caitlin Wood210
532Nerea Marti205
631Tasmin Pepper203
717Ayla Agren136
822Belen Garcia130
927Alice Powell130
1021Jessica Hawkins125
1126Sarah Moore116
1244Abbie Eaton115
135Fabienne Wohlwend90
147Emma Kimilainen86
1599Naomi Schiff84
163Gosia Rdest81
1797Bruna Tomaselli59
1885Miki Koyama48
1937Sabre Cook47
2011Vicky Piria19
2155Jamie Chadwick18
Race 1: Beitske beat Marta to pole position by two tenths of a second, but the Spaniard made the better start to the race and took the lead at Turn One. That allowed Irina to have a run a Beitske, but she got too close and damaged her front wing before running wide and dropping down the order. Caitlin Wood was promoted to third and, with 10 minutes remaining, Nerea took fourth place from Ayla with a move up the inside at the hairpin. Five minutes from the end, the top two crossed the line side-by-side but Marta held on at Turn One. Beitske took the lead at the end of that lap with an incredible overtake around the outside at 130R, but Marta regained first place with a move up the inside at the same corner on the next lap. Beitske got a great exit out of the final chicane on the last lap to set up a drag race to the chequered flag, but Marta won it by nine one-hundredths of a second.
119Marta Garcia16:02.203220
295Beitske Visser-0.0961171
320Caitlin Wood-3.189415
432Nerea Marti-11.693513
517Ayla Agren-12.975811
651Ira Sidorkova-15.701310
726Sarah Moore-31.616179
844Abbie Eaton-36.43398
93Gosia Rdest-40.581167
102Gabriela Jilkova-40.64460
1131Tasmin Pepper-44.09376
121Hannah Grisham-59.513140
1321Jessica Hawkins-1:06.064185
147Emma Kimilainen-1:15.672134
1585Miki Koyama-1:51.315103
1611Vicky Piria-1 LAP192
1799Naomi Schiff-1 LAP121
1897Bruna Tomaselli-1 LAP150
1922Belen Garcia-2 LAPS110
Race 2: Belen started the reverse-grid race from pole position, but while her and second-placed Bruna Tomaselli made smooth starts to hold their positions there was chaos behind them on the opening lap. Spins on the starting grid and mistakes by Miki Koyama and Vicky Piria impacted several drivers, most notably Beitske who was relegated to the rear of the field having made early progress. Tasmin Pepper and Gabriela were the chief beneficiaries and Gabriela passed the South African for third with nine minutes left before quickly taking second place from Bruna. Tasmin, Ayla, Abbie Eaton and Marta all passed Bruna in a hurry and Ayla moved into the final podium position with a move on Tasmin at 130R four minutes from the end. Belen was clear at the front so the focus during the closing stages switched to Marta. After a long wheel-to-wheel battle she finally took fifth place from Abbie on the penultimate lap, diving up the inside at the final chicane. That gave her one lap to overtake Tasmin and she managed it at the Degner curve to finish fourth.
122Belen Garcia16:11.029120
22Gabriela Jilkova-0.713100
317Ayla Agren-7.3091517
419Marta Garcia-9.8761915
531Tasmin Pepper-11.099913
644Abbie Eaton-12.0331211
720Caitlin Wood-12.2211710
832Nerea Marti-13.06169
997Bruna Tomaselli-31.75128
101Hannah Grisham-45.47680
1151Ira Sidorkova-59.642147
1221Jessica Hawkins-1:05.86076
1395Beitske Visser-1:06.1261851
1485Miki Koyama-1:39.22454
1526Sarah Moore-1:51.785133
1611Vicky Piria-1:58.14142
1799Naomi Schiff-1 LAP31
183Gosia Rdest-1 LAP110
197Emma Kimilainen-1 LAP60
Race 3: Beitske’s advantage was halved to one tenth of a second but she got the better of Marta in qualifying again. But unlike in race one, Beitske held on to her lead at the start by moving across to cover Marta when the lights went out. Irina spun at Turn One and collected Gabriela, relegating those two to the back of the field. That pushed Tasmin up to third, a position she temporarily lost to Nerea at the final chicane with 16 of the 20 minutes remaining, only to regain it at the next corner. Marta took a leaf out of Beitske’s book from race one by overtaking her rival around the outside at 130R to hit the front. Two minutes later, Beitske failed with an attempted a pass at the final chicane and hit the rear of Marta’s car on the exit, damaging her front wing. That gave Marta some breathing space and put Beitske under pressure from Tasmin who took second place at 130R. Nerea overtook Beitske with two minutes remaining, and though the League leader fought hard on the final lap, Nerea held on by half a second. A five-second post-race penalty dropped Tasmin to fourth.
119Marta Garcia20:02.4842201
332Nerea Marti-7.549717
395Beitske Visser-8.029115
431Tasmin Pepper-9.000613
517Ayla Agren-10.576811
622Belen Garcia-16.9911210
785Miki Koyama-20.97499
821Jessica Hawkins-21.316108
91Hannah Grisham-35.019180
1099Naomi Schiff-38.169147
113Gosia Rdest-39.993166
1297Bruna Tomaselli-44.696175
1344Abbie Eaton-59.380114
1420Caitlin Wood-1:07.90843
1526Sarah Moore-1:12.684152
167Emma Kimilainen-1:20.721131
1751Ira Sidorkova-1 LAPS30
1811Vicky Piria-2 LAPS190
192Gabriela JilkovaDNF50
Round Eight is at Mount Panorama Circuit, Bathurst, Australia, next Thursday, 30 July at 19:00 BST. Watch all three races on BBC iPlayer, BBC Red Button, BBC Sport website and W Series’ Twitch, YouTube and Facebook channels.