Newcastle’s Charlotte Poynting has been preparing for W Series qualification since the competition was first announced, but now she will be forced to sit on the sideline after a “confusing” selection process saw her miss the 28 driver cut-off.
54 drives undertook the qualification trials at Wachauring in Austria in an attempt to secure one of the 18 seats in the inaugural season of the all-female series, with the tests including ten separate modules covering on-track skills and off-track elements.
The event culminated in a Race of Champions-style contest on the Monday morning to round out the festival of W Series racing.
While Poynting missed out on qualification, Maitland’s Caitlin Wood made the cut in the 28-racer cohort, and she said she was “bloody happy” to break through to the next phase.
“Successfully completed all the assessments across the selection program finishing in the top four of the race of champions,” Wood said on Facebook. “Bring on these F3 cars.”
For Newcastle’s speed queen Poynting however the Race of Champions event was the end of the line in her 2019 W Series campaign, and one that left a bitter taste in her mouth post-qualifications.
“To be completely honest, to say I’m disappointed would be an understatement, but not in myself,” Poynting said on her official Facebook page after the race.
“I pushed my absolute hardest, finished equal 5th out of 54 in the race of champions on the final day and excelled above others who have made it through in the other modules but somehow didn’t make it.
“I’m so proud of myself, I performed the best I ever have and I know I was good enough.
“I adapted well, I learnt to drive in snow after only seeing it for the first time on Friday, I easily got the hang of being in a left hand drive, I raced against, and beat girls who have been racing much longer and at much higher categories than I have, but overall I proved to my supporters, the racing world and more importantly myself that this is what I’m made for.
“I’m so thankful to have had the most amazing group to go through this with, congratulations to Natalie, Miki and Gosia for doing it for Team Monaco.”
Poynting also addressed her teammate that had also missed selection in the trials, Chelsea Angelo, who the Novocastrian drive believed “definitely deserved to make it through”.
“To Chelsea, you did so well over the weekend and definitely deserved to make it through, I’m not sure why we weren’t chosen but I’m keen to find out how the selection process was managed as I know a few of us are a little confused,” Poynting said.
“W Series did a fantastic job at organising the event, we all had a lot of fun, I have learnt so much, and it’s a great initiative that I really hope succeeds. However I wish there was more clarification on how the selection process was to be determined from the start of the event as it is all still completely vague.
“This has only made me hungrier to excel back on Aussie shores. I can’t wait to kick some butt this year and jump into some bigger, faster cars. Onwards and upwards for the year ahead, it’s going to be a big one.”
W Series chief executive Catherine Bond Muir addressed all racers who had missed qualification for the 2019 series, including Poynting, and offered a long term solution for the disappointment.
“To those of them who haven’t made it through to the next stage, I say: obviously, today is a sad day,” Ms Muir said.
“But one thing I’ve seen over the past three days, and that I’ve been massively impressed by, is that each and every one of our qualifier-drivers is tough, brave and strong.
“And of course we’ll therefore encourage them to work hard on their driving for the next few months and then consider re-applying for the 2020 W Series season when the time comes.”
The next step for the 28 drivers will be a four-day test in the W Series Tatuus F318 Formula 3 car in late March. The W Series will then appear at six events from May to August. Those locations have been confirmed as Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Italy and the United Kingdom.