Alice Powell wins W Series season opener in Austria; defending champ Jamie Chadwick 7th

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SPIELBERG, Austria — Alice Powell won an eventful season opener to the 2021 W Series on Saturday.

The British driver, who was also fastest in Friday’s practice and qualifying, led from start to finish in the race full of collisions and spins on the track of Formula One’s Styrian Grand Prix.

Sarah Moore of Britain and Fabienne Wohlwend of Liechtenstein finished second and third, respectively.

Powell won the last race of the inaugural W Series two years ago at Brands Hatch to finish third in the drivers’ standings.

Defending champion Jamie Chadwick finished seventh, having started eighth after a technical issue in qualifying. Chadwick had to chase from the back of the pack after she was hit from behind on lap two by Jess Hawkins, an incident that was under investigation by stewards.

W Series Round 1:Red Bull Ring - Race
Winner Alice Powell (left), runner-up Sarah Moore and Fabienne Wohlwend toast their podium finishes in the W Series season opener (Bryn Lennon/Getty Images).

The second race is scheduled on the same track in the Austrian Alps next Saturday, a day before F1’s Austrian GP.

The W Series is an all-female championship, aimed at promoting women in motorsports as drivers and engineers. It started in 2019 with Chadwick winning the inaugural title, but last season was canceled because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Moore became the first openly LGBTQ driver to score a podium during a Grand Prix weekend, according to the W Series.

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Chadwick, 22, since has gone on to race in the Extreme E Series and also secured a developmental deal with Williams F1. She has credited the W Series having “professionalized women’s motorsport overnight” in helping propel her career.

“I was surprised it took off so much as well, to be honest,” Chadwick told NBC Sports in March. “Massively. I was skeptical when it first started. I didn’t feel it was necessarily the best way to approach the situation.

“But in retrospect giving that many women that kind of opportunity and a platform, everyone bought into it and gave it this popularity that was completely unexpected. But also for sport and women’s sport, it was far greater than anything we’ve seen in recent years.”

W Series Round 1:Red Bull Ring - Race
Alice Powell of Racing X leads during the W Series Round 1 at Red Bull Ring (Bryn Lennon/Getty Images).

Alice Powell wins W Series season opener in Austria; defending champ Jamie Chadwick 7th originally appeared on NBCSports.com