Angelo, Poynting, Whitley & Wood: Meet the Australians competing for a spot in the W Series
Australians Chelsea Angelo, Charlotte Poynting, Alexandra Whitley, and Caitlin Wood will all vie for a spot in the inaugural W Series at the qualifying session in Austria this weekend.
The W Series is a free-to-enter motor racing series for female drivers, with a prize fund of US$1.5 million including US$500,000 for the series winner, and prize money for every championship position. A field of 18 drivers will be selected from a field of 60 qualifiers this weekend at the Wachauring in Melk, Austria, to compete in the Spring series as a support category at DTM events.
The selection process and driver training program is being led by a field of Formula 1 and motorsport experts: David Coulthard (multiple Grand Prix winner); Adrian Newey (the most successful Chief Design Engineer in modern Formula 1 history); Dave Ryan (40 years’ Formula 1 experience in team management with the McLaren and Manor Formula 1 teams, as well having run his own GT racing team Von Ryan); Matt Bishop (15 years’ experience as a journalist and editor in Formula 1, followed by 10 years’ experience heading up McLaren’s communications, content, media and PR operation in Formula 1).
The cars will all be identical Tatuus T-318 Formula 3 cars, powered by identical Autotecnica Motori inline four-cylinder 1.8-litre turbocharged engines, using Sadev six-speed sequential gearboxes, fitted with HALO safety devices.
David Coulthard said ”we at W Series firmly believe that female and male racing drivers can compete with one another on equal terms given the same opportunity.”
“At the moment, however, women racing drivers tend to reach a ‘glass ceiling’ at around the GP3/Formula 3 level on their learning curve, often as a result of a lack of funding rather than a lack of talent.”
Chelsea Angelo has a wealth of experience in Australian motorsport, beginning her career with drives in both Australian Formula Ford and Australian Formula 3.
The 22 year-old from Melbourne has driven in Super2 and even entered the Supercars Clipsal 500, as well as completing a Formula Renault test in 2017. She drove a full season in the 2018 Porsche Michelin GT3 Challenge Cup, where she placed 5th overall in the championship.
Angelo said on Facebook, “I am absolutely mind blown to think that I have been considered to be on the grid in Europe next year.”
“Never in a million years I would consider potentially racing overseas in Europe. I'm so proud of my accomplishment, my hard work and my commitment to never give up what I love doing.”
Aussie Racing Cars regular Charlotte Poynting will be no stranger to the judging and coaching process of the W Series, having served as a judge and driver coach for the Aussie Driver Search.
The Novocastrian is a competitor in the Aussie Racing Cars Championship, taking out the 2017 Aussie Racing Cars Women’s trophy, and narrowly missing repeating the result in 2018 with second place.
Poynting has experience racing in the Ssanyong Racing Series in New Zealand as well as SuperUtes, and tested an F3 car to prepare for the W Series.
She said on Facebook, “I can’t describe how pleased I am to have been given the chance to possibly race in Europe in 2019 and to jump out of my comfort zone and into a Formula 3 car!”
“This will be the biggest step of my career, I can’t wait,’’ she told The Weekend Australian.
Seven-time Australian national karting champion Alexandra Whitley was one of the six drivers added to the W-Series entrants list when it was revised to a total of 60 drivers.
The 25-year-old was the first Australian to graduate from the New Zealand Elite Motorsport Academy, and the first female NZV8 Ute driver, claiming the category’s first ever female race win in December this year. Like Poynting, Whitley also raced in the Ssanyong Racing Series, but Whitley stayed in New Zealand and has raced in the NZ V8 Ute series since 2017.
She told Speedcafe.com, “Coming from a karting background, I love that kind of feeling [of single-seaters]”.
“I’ve done a test day in a Formula Ford and was straight on the pace, so it doesn’t worry me, to be driving the Formula 3 car for the first time. I’ll spend some time driving in a relevant race simulator; I don’t think I’ll have a problem picking it up.”
Caitlin Wood may be based in England, but will be proudly representing Australia as a W Series qualifier, telling The Weekend Australian, “I am very excited to be driving an F3 at the testing”.
“I started in open-wheeled cars and Formula Ford and then F4, but lately I have been in the GT cars, so to step up and feel the aero will be amazing. I am just going to focus at the job at hand. I want to make the final cut.’’
The 22 year-old graduated from Australian Formula Ford into Australian Formula 4, with her 2015 entry making her the first ever female competitor in the series.
Competing in European GT4, Wood was the female winner of the 2016 Reiter Young Stars Cup, a rookie championship that occurs within the wider GT4 competition. She currently competes in the European Lamborghini Super Trofeo series, with the aim of being the first ever female Le Mans 24 Hour winner, with a planned entry in 2020.