(Reuters) – Britain’s Jamie Chadwick and Dutch rival Beitske Visser will fight for the inaugural all-female W Series title at the final race of the season at Brands Hatch next month after Finnish driver Emma Kimilainen won at Assen on Saturday.
Championship leader Chadwick finished third in the season’s penultimate round at the Dutch circuit to move 13 points clear of Visser, who was a close fourth.
The result means Chadwick will take the title, and the $500,000 winner’s prize, if she finishes her home race in the top three.
Kimilainen, who had missed the last two rounds at Zolder and Misano on health grounds following a collision in the opening round at Hockenheim, started on pole but made a slow getaway with Britain’s Alice Powell leading into the first corner.
The safety car was then deployed after South African driver Tasmin Pepper spun and collected an unfortunate Miki Koyama, with both drivers retiring.
Visser overtook Australian driver Caitlin Wood with 18 minutes to go, meaning Chadwick had to win to seal the championship with a race in hand.
Kimilainen made sure that did not happen by taking advantage of a mistake by Powell at turn one and pulling away to become the fourth different winner in five races.
Visser pressed Chadwick hard in the final stages but ultimately ran out of time.
“I want to dedicate this to the doctors that helped me,” said Kimilainen. “They have made an amazing job, to get me from the bottom of the bed up to here, winning a race. Incredible.”
The W Series will also run a non-championship race on Sunday with a reversed grid.
The championship uses identical Formula Three cars for all the drivers and is aimed at helping women up the motorsport ladder.
(Reporting by Ian Page, editing by Alan Baldwin and Tony Lawrence)