Maitland's Caitlin Wood celebrates with Finnish competitor Emma Kimiläinen, who will also be contesting the W Series in 2019. Image via Facebook.

“I did it!”

They were the first words out of Caitlin Wood’s mouth when she found out she was to be named as one of 18 drivers in the inaugural W-Series, set to begin in May.

These eighteen drivers, cut down from a 54-driver shortlist from the first stage of selections at the Wachauring in Austria back in February, are now set to contest a six race series that will take place across Germany, Belgium, Netherlands, Italy and the United Kingdom. All expenses will be paid for the class of 2019.

For Wood, who began her racing career in a go-kart years ago in her hometown of Maitland, it’s the end of a journey she’s been on since she first put her hands on a wheel. Now she’s on the verge of racing a Tatuus T-318 competitively in six straight races.

“I’m so happy to be part of this inaugural year, it’s been such a great time in Spain pushing my to my limits,” the 18-year-old said of her qualification heroics.

“A full racing season – fully covered – is what everyone dreams of, and it’s finally a reality. Bring it on, I’m so ready.”

Caitlin Wood and seventeen other racers will contest the W-Series in Tatuus T-318 cars.

The young racer described the qualification as “surreal”, and said her focus now was turned towards the first round to be hosted in Germany.

“It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity and these drives don’t really exist,” she said.

“It’s absolutely amazing and I am so grateful to be apart of it. Maybe when the first round in Germany happens, it will feel more real but right now it’s really exciting to be part of the inaugural season and really looking forward to racing.

“A lot of people have asked me what would it mean to me to get in this series and unlike most of the drivers, I didn’t just want the W-Series. I needed it. I needed this championship to further my career so I think that’s the main difference between some of the other drivers and myself.”

Wood enters the 18-racer series representing Australia. She is one of thirteen nationalities on the circuit, which also includes representatives from countries like the United States, the United Kingdom, Spain, Finland, and more.

The eighteen drivers that make up the W-Series class of 2019. Image via F3.

W-Series chief executive Catherine Bond Muir, who has overseen the four intensitve days in Almeria for the competition hopefuls, reached out to both qualified drivers and those that had missed out by a hairs breadth.

“So our judges crunched that data in order to determine who would be the 18 drivers to contest the first ever single-seater racing series for female drivers: W Series,” she said.

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“To those drivers who didn’t make it through, I offer my commiserations, of course, but I also say ‘well done’. All our drivers worked diligently, studied hard, and drove well, including those who didn’t make it through. To the 18 drivers who did make it through, I say ‘big congrats and very well done’.

“But I also want to mention our four reserve drivers, who didn’t quite make the final 18 but all impressed our judges. They’ll be disappointed, inevitably, but they’re still part of the W-Series family.”

Wood will now prepare for her first testing round at the Lausitzring in Germany, set to begin on April 14 and run for three days. The first round of the W-Series will be on the DTM support bill at Hockenheim, on May 3. It will also be a three day event.

W-Series 2019 drivers: Jamie Chadwick, UK; Sabre Cook, USA; Marta Garcia, Spain; Megan Gilkes, Canada; Esmee Hawkey, UK; Jessica Hawkins, UK; Shea Holbrook, USA; Emma Kimilainen, Finland; Miki Koyama, Japan; Sarah Moore, UK; Tasmin Pepper, South Africa; Vicky Piria, Italy; Alice Powell, UK; Gosia Rdest, Poland; Naomi Schiff, Belgium; Beitske Visser, Netherlands; Fabienne Wohlwend, Liechtenstein; Caitlin Wood, Australia.

W-Series reserve drivers: Sarah Bovy, Belgium; Vivien Keszthelyi, Hungary; Stephane Kox, Netherlands; Francesca Linossi, Italy.