A look at the W Series qualifiers

With the W Series’ final stage of selection taking place in two weeks, it’s time to familiarise ourselves with the 28 finalists who have a shot at making the final grade.

The chosen contenders will receive a fully-funded 2019 race programme in the W Series.

In this second of three articles, I’ve researched the qualifiers to ensure you’re acquainted with those aiming to make the starting grid.

Grace Gui

Grace is the only Chinese driver to have made the finals, having raced all around Asia.

In 2016 she dipped into the Asian Formula Renault Series and received sponsorship for the 2017 season so she could race in all of the rounds.

That year, she finished runner-up in the Class B category. She was the only female to compete and secured several podiums and a big haul of points.

The series took to the biggest tracks in Asia, including Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia.

Grace Gui racing in AFR

Shea Holbrook

Shea is one of the three American drivers hoping for a 2019 W Series seat. She has over a decade of racing experience, ranging from NASCAR Late Models, to being a successful name in the highly regarded Pirelli World Challenge.

She used to be a competitive water skier and has always had a love for adrenaline.

In 2011 she won the Long Beach Grand Prix and became the first woman to win a major Touring Car race at that infamous venue.

Now, she’s a multiple Pirelli World Challenge race winner where she’s competed and ran her own team – Shea Racing. The outfit has secured several podiums as well as victories, and is recognised as an estabished and compeitive team.

Shea Holbrook Credit: PWC

Francesca Linossi

Italy has produced some world-class motorsport teams and drivers, and Francesca is hoping to be the next name added to that extensive list.

Most of her experience behind the wheel has been in racing sports cars. Most notably, she’s driven in the Lamborghini Super Trofeo.

In 2018, she finished a season-best third at Silverstone, before repeating her podium success at Vallelunga. This strong performance in the European version of the competition meant that she was able to contest in the world finals where she finished seventh in the Pro-Am class.

Vivien Keszthelyi

Vivien is one of the youngest finalists in the selection process at just 18-years-old. Having already achieved three touring car championship titles, the Hungarian driver has already proved her ability to compete at the sharp end.

Since her racing car debut in 2013, Vivien has climbed through the ranks quickly. Now, she’s a member of the Audi Sport Racing Academy, and contested in the 2019 F3 Asian Winter Championship. She finished 13th overall.

Photo via Twitter

Emma Kimilainen

Emma is a Finnish racing driver with extensive seat-time spent in touring cars.

She took a break from racing from 2010 to 2013 to start her own family but came back the following year to race in the Scandinavian Touring Car Championship. She contested in that for three seasons, before moving onto V8s.

Since then, she’s been testing cars, including a Tesla P100DL for SPV Racing which she now races in an all-electric championship.

Away from racing, Emma has presented Formula 1 for Finnish MTV Sport and has also published a book.

Credit: ElectricGT.co

Natalia Kowalska

Natalia is a Polish driver who has had a taste of single-seater racing in FIA Formula 2.

In 2010 she made her F2 debut, competing at tracks such as Silverstone and Monza. She participated in a full season and returned the following year to race in a further four outings. Since Natalia, there have been no female drivers to race in the rebranded GP2 series – however this is set to change when Tatiana Calderon will take to the track this year.

Before that, Natalia’s time racing was spent in Renault-backed championships.

Credit: Newsauto

Stephane Kox

From the Netherlands, 25-year-old Stephane has recently raced in the Asian Le Mans Series. As the daughter of racing driver Pete Kox, Stephane has had big shoes to fill.

She started out in karts and then made the switch to single-seaters for the 2013 season, where she competed in the ADAC Formel Masters. At the end of that year, a change to cars was made and she has been learning her craft in various championships since then.

Credit: GT$ European Series

Miki Koyama

Miki is flying the flag for Japan in the finals, having raced in their Formula 4 championship for several seasons. She also contested in the recent F3 Asian Winter Series for three races.

In 2017, she headed out in the Kyojo Cup racing in the women-only competition and won it. She retained this title the following year, winning three rounds.

Credit: http://www.miki-koyama.com

I will be covering the W Series extensively on my blog, with news articles, interviews and race reports.


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