W Series: Chadwick triumphs after last-lap drama in Miami
Jamie Chadwick kicked off the defence of her W Series title with victory after a dramatic conclusion to the season-opening race on the streets of Miami.
The Team UK athlete got the jump on stalled pole-sitter Nerea Martí off the line to take the lead, but had to soak up early pressure from second-placed Emma Kimilainen.
The race was neutralised, first with a safety car, then red flags before the end of the opening lap, Alice Powell hitting the wall heavily at Turn 8 and ending her run of ten consecutive points finishes in the category.
When racing resumed, Chadwick retained the lead but came under immediate fire from Kimilainen, the pair even making light contact under braking for the final corner on the first lap after the restart.
Kimilainen’s second attempt to wrest the lead away was a successful one, the Finn sending a move to the inside of Turn 11 with eight minutes left on the clock. She was denied any chance to make a break for it, however, by another safety car intervention after Fabienne Wohlwend and Abbie Eaton made contact, ending both their races early.
That set the stage for a one lap ‘dash to the flag’, and Chadwick’s pressure told, Kimilainen locking up and running wide at the first corner to drop to third, and surrender the lead back to the Brit.
From there, Chadwick went unchallenged to the chequered flag, kicking off her pursuit of a third successive title on the top step of the podium.
Things went from bad to worse for Kimilainen in attempting to re-pass Marta Garcia for second at the final corner, with contact pitching the former into a spin, and dropping her to last.
Jessica Hawkins, Abbi Pulling and Sarah Moore were among the drivers to profit, moving up to third, fifth and tenth respectively to kick off their campaigns among the points.
The 2022 W Series returns to action in Miami for Round 2 at 15:35 (BST) on Sunday (8 May).