On Friday Caitlin qualified fourth in a dramatic rain-soaked session at the infamous Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium, but was promoted to third place after Nerera Marti received a four-place grid penalty. The drama-filled qualifying session was red-flagged after six minutes following an accident involving six cars at Eau Rouge.
As a result of a six-car accident during qualifying on Friday, 16 drivers started the race. Four of the six drivers involved – Sarah Moore (Scuderia W, GBR), Belen Garcia (Scuderia W, ESP), Abbie and Fabienne – were cleared to race. Ayla Agren (M. Forbes Motorsport, NOR) and Beitske Visser (M. Forbes Motorsport, NED) did not receive clearance, though both drivers are determined to return for the sixth race of the season at Zandvoort, Netherlands, next weekend (4 September).
The start of the race was delayed by one hour due to a red flag during Formula 1 qualifying, and heavy rain throughout the day meant the opening 13 minutes took place behind the safety car. It was worth the wait, as the remainder of the 30 minutes plus one lap race was full of wheel-to-wheel action.
The pole-sitter had won each of the first four races of the season, and that run seemed set to continue when Jamie Chadwick pulled out a 2.6-second advantage over Alice Powell at the end of the first flying lap. Emma Kimilainen was a further three seconds back in third at that stage after passing Caitlin who ran wide at Eau Rouge and was then overtaken by her team-mate Marta Garcia.
With less than 10 minutes remaining, Emma and Marta pulled nine seconds clear of Caitlin and took two seconds out of the leading pair on the next lap as the chasing pack began to find some drier sections of track. With eight minutes to go, Emma overtook Alice for second place at Blanchimont before setting off in pursuit of Jamie who was five seconds up the road.
Emma set the fastest lap with five minutes left, posting purple times in all three sectors to go three seconds faster than Jamie and reduce the Briton’s advantage to one second. On the next lap, Emma went later on the brakes to pass Jamie for the lead around the outside before easing clear in the closing stages to win by almost nine seconds. Marta overtook Alice at Turn 15 with 30 seconds remaining and, although Alice fought back hard on the final two laps, Marta held on to score her first podium finish of the season.
Caitlin finished fifth at arguably one of the toughest tracks still being raced on in the modern age and made even more scary with the weather conditions that the drivers were presented over the weekend.
“I’m super proud of what we [Marta and I] achieved this weekend, from being P3 in qually and P5 in the race. I leave Spa happy and ready for more,” said Caitlin via Instagram.
Jamie Chadwick continues to lead the championship and with her fifth place finish in only her second race of the 2021 W Series season Caitlin sits in 14th place in the championship.
Photographs and images by W Series.