W Series Qualifiers: Who are the French and Spanish drivers hoping to make the cut?

With the selection process for the inaugural W Series fast approaching, 60 qualifiers will have to be whittled down to only 18. Spain and France are countries that are well represented at the highest level of motorsport and have been for some time, so who are the drivers hoping to continue this representation onto the W Series grid?

las provincias
credit: Las Provincias

Spaniard Carmen Boix-Gill has had a passion for motorsport since she was young with both her brothers and father racing. At the age of 8, she decided that she too wanted to get involved with the sport, and from the moment she began driving, knew it was something she wanted to do. When an identification program took part in her hometown searching for future talents, Carmen went along and from there began karting more seriously until the age of 16 when she progressed to cars. In the years she spent karting, Boix raced in both national and international competitions beginning with the Spanish Karting Championship and Copa Campeones Trophy before moving onto the French Karting Championship. In 2013, she progressed to cars in the MRF Challenge, before taking a break from racing due to financial difficulties. However, in 2017 she returned to competing when former-GP2 driver Borja Garcia contacted her about her career. Helping Carmen to gain the financial support she needed, she got back to the track in the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series, finishing 11th in the driver standings after a 4-year break. Last year, she returned to the series, winning the Lady Cup for the second consecutive year. The award goes to the highest scoring female driver with the winner being given various opportunities in the USA. However, she is hoping W Series will give her the chance to get back to single seater racing, and as the first Spanish woman to win a national championship event, is hoping to continue her success.

marta garcia
credit: martagarciaracing.com

Marta Garcia was a lover of sports from a young age, but didn’t start karting until she was 10 years old. “Once I went in a go-kart, I loved the feeling of the speed and just driving,” Marta told me not long ago, “I guess the feeling I have when I am driving and competing makes it more exciting and different from other sports.” Garcia’s first victory came only a year after she started racing in one of Spain’s junior categories. After success at local and national levels, she moved onto driving internationally in the World Karting Series. After finding the initial transition to racing outside of Spain quite difficult, she soon started reaching the podium in the series and the European championships. In 2015, Marta competed in the CIK-FIA Academy Trophy, taking the title over 43 other racers. The following year she raced part-time in the Spanish Formula 4 Championship, being unable to race fulltime due to budget restrictions. In 2017, she again raced in the Championship, however with backing from Renault was able to complete the season. Despite this, it was a difficult year and a steep learning curve as Marta finished 9th overall, with a best result of 5th. With a lack of sponsorship and financial support for 2018, Garcia’s focus was on driver coaching as she began helping young karters. However, she did race in some events, most notably the Spanish Karting Championships in which she returned to the podium. Along with other drivers on the longlist such as Jamie Chadwick and Natalie Decker, Marta has also worked with the FIA’s Women in Motorsport Commission on their Women Drivers Assessment Programme, and so despite her lack of racing recently, it is clear they see her potential.

credit: Autosport

30-year-old Carmen Jorda will already be known to many motorsport fans. Jorda was surrounded by the sport from an early age with her father a former driver and so spent much of her childhood karting before moving onto Master Junior Formula in 2005 at the age of 17. After spending 2 seasons in the series, finishing 7th in her first year and 9th overall in her second, Carmen progressed to Spanish Formula 3. Despite a disappointing first year in the Championship, Jorda finished 4th overall finishing on the podium twice when she returned for the 2007 season. She continued in the competition for the 2 years that followed. After stints in the Le Mans Series, IndyLights Series and Lamborghini Super Trofeo, Carmen spent the 2012, 2013 and 2014 seasons racing in F1 feeder series, GP3. In 2015 it was announced that Jorda would become Lotus F1 team’s development driver, and after the team was bought by Renault Sport, she remained with them for the following 2016 season. In the same year, she also raced in 2 categories of the Renault Sport Trophy, finishing 9th and 16th. Despite controversial comments in recent years, Jorda is one of the biggest names associated with women in motorsport and is also a member of the FIA’s Women in Motorsport Commission. Her inclusion in the series would certainly raise eyebrows, however if she can prove herself to be one of the fastest qualifiers, it will be interesting to see her resilience as she continues to reach for her goal of racing at the highest level she can.

le figaro
credit: Le Figaro

The only Frenchwoman within the 60 qualifiers is Ines Taittinger. The 28-year-old didn’t start racing until she was 20, however that doesn’t mean there was no interest in motorsport, having learnt about the sport from her mentor and godfather Philippe Alliot. The former F1 driver introduced her to racing along with her father. Although more of an endurance racer, Taittinger has experience in racing in high-profile competitions which will surely help in the intense selection process. Much of Ines’s career has been spent racing in the V de V racing series. Within the series are 5 individual championships. Taittinger has raced in the V de V Endurance Series (Proto) 5 times, Single Seater V de V Challenge and the V de V Endurance Challenge (GT). However, the highlight of her career so far was her inclusion in the 2016 Le Mans 24hrs in which her team scored 0.5 points. To race in Le Mans less than 10 years after starting to compete is a hugely impressive feat for any driver and so we will have to wait and see whether her career takes her to the W Series and whether as the only Frenchwoman, she will fly the ‘Tricolore’ on the grid in May.

France and Spain are known for their motorsport talent with success going back many years in series such as Formula One. Although W Series will not visit either country, that doesn’t mean there wont be an appetite for it, especially if one of their drivers makes the final 18. Of the racers mentioned, Marta Garcia and Carmen Boix are both young, but have had considerable karting experience which will surely help them going into the selection. Their struggles with financial difficulties will also make the drivers hungry for success and with W Series being free to enter, will be a brilliant chance for both Spaniards to shine. Carmen Jorda has previously been a development driver for a F1 team and so it is clear they could see her talent, she will also have a point to prove with many people having doubted her ability and so this again could be a real chance for her. Whereas Ines Taittinger came to racing late and has competed in mainly endurance races, however she can’t be ruled out having impressed and raced in high-profile competitions such as Le Mans. But with strong racers all round, who will make the inaugural W Series grid?