Ex NTT IndyCar Series driver Lyn St James says she has been blown away by talent shown by each of the qualifiers for the new all female W Series.
The drivers undertook intense training this weekend in Austria in challenging conditions however this has not phased any of the drivers.
Speaking on Sunday, St James who has been instrumental in the weekend’s selection process said:
Having now completed the second consecutive day spent working as a judge in the W Series’ three-day driver selection programme in Melk [Austria], I’ve been continually delighted by the infectious camaraderie shown by the 54 invited qualifier-drivers taking part here.
“But it hasn’t surprised me. Between 1994 and 2010 I ran a driver development programme in the USA, and during that time we trained more than 230 drivers, from 33 states of the USA and six other countries besides, the overwhelming majority of them being women. Some of those women went on to great things – Danica Patrick, Sarah Fisher, Melanie Troxel, Liz Halliday, Julia Landauer and many more – and the same camaraderie we’re seeing here this weekend was an ever-present feature of the programme I established 25 years ago too.
“Having now observed and interviewed all 54 of W Series’ qualifier-drivers, it should not be a surprise to anyone to learn how impressive they are. The overall level of ability and potential I’ve seen has been very encouraging indeed. They have talent, passion, desire and aspirations to continue to succeed at the highest level in motorsport.
“Tomorrow we’ll be making the all-important decision as to which of them will go forward to the final stage of the selection process, a four-day test in Almeria in W Series Formula 3 race cars in March – and, although making that choice tomorrow will be challenging, I’m thrilled to be so centrally involved in the crucial first steps of such a radical yet positive drive to further the careers of such a diverse yet deserving group of women race drivers.
W Series Racing Director Dave Ryan said:
The first two days we’ve spent here at the Wachauring [Melk, Austria] have been both fascinating and revealing.
“As one of the four judges [David Coulthard, Alex Wurz and Lyn St James being the other three], I’ve focused the majority of my attention on the on-track tests, as you’d expect given my background, but I’ve also carefully observed many of the fitness trials, the media/presentation sessions and the team-building exercises.
“All our qualifier-drivers have approached the tasks with energy and enthusiasm, and I’ve been genuinely impressed by many of them. Their racing backgrounds are very varied, and some of them have a lot more single-seater experience than others, but almost all of them are pushing just as hard as they can to learn just as much as they can and show us all just how motivated they are to succeed.
“And that’s what W Series is all about: giving a large group of women drivers a brand-new and free-of-charge platform from which to build real careers as professional racing drivers.
The final selection will take place on Monday with the drivers for the inaugural W Series season being announced.