W Series prepares for its two-race finale at COTA with two drivers tied in points

W Series COTA
W Series
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As the second season of the W Series heads into its final weekend with a doubleheader at the Circuit of the Americas (COTA), two racers, Jamie Chadwick and Alice Powell, are tied in points after six rounds – setting up an exciting head-to-head matchup. This will be the first time in the series’ two-year history that it has raced outside of Europe.

“This is the first time I’ve been in this position, level on points going into the final round, but I kind of like the fact that I’m neither ahead or chasing because, mathematically, there’s nothing to think about,” Chadwick said in a press release. “The focus for me is simply to outscore Alice and the easiest way for me to do that is to win both races.”

Chadwick was the 2019 champion on the strength of two wins in the six-race schedule. Powell won once in the season finale.

Powell and Chadwick have been the class of the field in 2021 with the two drivers alternating wins in the first four races. Powell is currently ranked first after winning the most recent race in Zandvoort, Netherlands, to give her three victories to two.

The path to the championship is clear.

With 25 points on the line for each race, a total of 50 for the weekend, Emma Kimilainen is the other driver with a mathematical shot at winning. She is the only other driver to win in 2021, beating second-place Chadwick and third-place Marta Garcia in a crash-marred race at Spa Francorchamps in August. Powell finished fourth in that event.

“I’m happy to be going into the last weekend in the position I’m in because, after the first race of the season in Austria, I wasn’t sure that was going to be the case,” Chadwick said. “Alice and I are going toe-to-toe, so I need to up my performance level this weekend. The last few weeks have been spent working out how best to do that to make sure I go to COTA with best chance of winning.”

Chadwick finished sixth in the season-opener, but has stood on the podium in every race since.

Powell’s three wins offset an eight-place finish in Round 2 at Red Bull Ring and her fourth at Spa.

“Before the 2019 season, I’d had a few years without racing, so that year was about blowing off the cobwebs,” Powell said. “Coming into this year, my approach was clear – to take it one race at a time – and that has helped me. There’s still a long way to go, a quarter of the season over the final weekend, with lots of points to be won and lost so I will treat it like any race weekend because if you change too much you can lose your way.”

The W Series is in its second season after the 2020 season was canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is being showcased this year alongside eight Formula One races, including this weekend’s US Grand Prix.

In addition to the series championship, every driver in the field is still fighting for an automatic invitation to next year’s championship hunt. That invitation will go to the top eight drivers in this year’s standings. Currently only 22 points separate the eighth and last-placed drivers.

W Series’ schedule for this weekend starts on Friday, October 22, with two 30-minute practice sessions. Saturday, October 23, will host qualification for both events with the first of two races held later in the day. The second half of the doubleheader will be run on Sunday. Both races will be 30 minutes plus one lap.

Cadillac confirms WEC driver lineup with Chip Ganassi Racing that will race Le Mans in 2023

Cadillac Ganassi Le Mans
Cadillac Racing
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Cadillac and Chip Ganassi Racing announced their driver lineup for a 2023 entry in the FIA World Endurance Championship, the sports car series that includes the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

The Cadillac V-LMDh entry will be driven by Earl Bamber and Alex Lynn, who were teamed on the No. 02 Cadillac that competed in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship DPi class this season and won the Twelve Hours of Sebring. The third driver will be Richard Westbrook, who will return to Ganassi after helping the team to a GT class win at Le Mans in 2018.

The team also will compete in the Rolex 24 at Daytona in the rebranded Grand Touring Prototype premier category, which is designed for crossover between the top prototypes in IMSA and WEC. Ganassi will field a second entry at Daytona with its No. 01 Cadillac that will compete full time in IMSA with Sebastien Bourdais and Renger van der Zande.

A Ganassi spokesman said the team hopes to run its second entry in the 2023 24 Hours of Le Mans but only its WEC team is confirmed (an AOC invitation would be required for the IMSA team). The team also is exploring options but currently plans to have the WEC’s team base of operations in Indianapolis.

Ganassi is the first American-based prototype team to confirm its entry in the 2023 24 Hours of Le Mans. It’s expected that Team Penske, which raced this year’s Le Mans with a full-time WEC entry in LMP2, also will race Le Mans with Porsche’s new LMDh car that is set for IMSA, but the manufacturer has yet to confirm its driver and team lineup.

Next year will mark the return of Cadillac to Le Mans for the first time since 2002.

Before joining Ganassi last year, Lynn made 28 WEC starts since 2016, winning the LMGTE Pro class at Le Mans in 2020.

“I’m absolutely thrilled to continue with Cadillac and Chip Ganassi Racing,” Lynn said in a release. “It’s a huge honor to drive for Chip in any capacity but certainly on a full factory sports car program, it’s seriously cool. Cadillac has so much heritage as a luxury North American sports car brand, so to be able to represent them is a huge privilege. I’ve had a lot of fun in my first year doing it and to continue that onto the World Endurance Championship stage is fantastic.

“For me, returning to WEC is sort of what I’ve always known and it’s a bit like going into my wheelhouse. This year in IMSA was a bit different with getting to know all-new circuits and a new style of racing so 2023 will be filled with a bit more of what I’m used to with more of a European focus. I think what’s significant about WEC is without a doubt Le Mans. As a sports car race, Le Mans is the crown jewel and everything that we want to win. To be able to take Chip Ganassi Racing and Cadillac back to Le Mans to fight for overall honors is a huge honor and that’s something that I’m going to work tirelessly to make sure we achieve.”

Bamber won the Le Mans overall in 2015 and ’17 with Porsche teams and also was a 2019 GTLM champion in IMSA.

“I am really happy to continue at Chip Ganassi Racing and Cadillac,” Bamber said in a release. “I’ve loved my first season in DPi and now to continue over into the LMDh era and WEC is super exciting. Looking forward to fighting for a world championship and another Le Mans victory.

“The World Endurance Championships gives us the opportunity to race at the world’s biggest race, which is Le Mans, the crown jewel of sports car racing. I’ve been lucky enough to win it before and it’s obviously a huge goal for Cadillac and everyone at Chip Ganassi Racing. To have that goal in sight is really exciting. It’s been great to have Alex as a teammate in 2022. We’ve been able to learn and grow together in the DPi, and we have a really good partnership going into WEC. We know each other really well and believe adding Richard will be a seamless transition.”

Said Westbrook: “After four really good years at Chip Ganassi Racing, I’ve got so many friends there and I’ve always dreamt to come back one day. It just worked so well between 2016 and 2019, and I’m delighted we found a route to come together again. I can’t wait, it’s an exciting era in sports car racing right now.

“I feel like I know Alex and Earl really well. I did Le Mans with Alex in 2020 and I’ve known him for years. It feels like I’m going back with an ex-teammate and exactly the same with Earl. Although I’ve never shared a car with Earl, we’ve always done the same sort of racing be it in WEC or in IMSA. We’ve had lots of battles, including this year in our dueling Cadillacs. We’ve always gotten along quite well, and I can say we’re going to have a great year together.”

The seven-race WEC season, which also includes a stop at Spa, will begin March 17 with the 1,000 Miles of Sebring at Sebring International Raceway in Florida.