November 28, 2018 / 1:41 PM / 20 days ago

Motor racing - More than 100 women apply for $1.5 million 'W Series'

FILE PHOTO: Formula One F1 - German Grand Prix - Hockenheimring, Hockenheim, Germany - July 22, 2018 General view of Red Bull’s Max Verstappen in action during the race REUTERS/Ralph Orlowski/File Photo

LONDON (Reuters) - More than 100 applicants from around the world have sought to join a new all-female motor racing series aimed at getting them into Formula One, where no woman has competed since 1976.

Organisers on Wednesday issued a long list of 55 for the W Series, which is set to launch in May with 18 drivers racing 1.8 litre Formula Three cars for a $1.5 million prize fund.

The drivers, whose ages range from 17 to 33 and include some familiar names to fans who follow the various junior series, now face on and off-track tests with former grand prix racers David Coulthard and Alex Wurz among the judges.

Spain’s ex-Lotus and Renault Formula One development driver Carmen Jorda, a 30-year-old who also sits on the governing FIA’s women’s commission, was one of those to go on to the next phase.

Amna al-Qubaisi, 18, the first female racing driver from the United Arab Emirates who has competed in Italian Formula Four and will test a Formula E car in Saudi Arabia next month, was another.

So too was Britain’s Jamie Chadwick, 20, who in 2015 became the first female driver to win a British GT championship and this year became the first woman to win a round of the British Formula Three series, finishing eighth overall.

Indian racers Mira Erda, 18, and Sneha Sharma, 28, also made the long list.

The W Series organisers say they hope to provide a platform for women to develop their skills before taking on male drivers further up the motorsport ladder.

The first race is scheduled for Hockenheim, Germany, on May 3 and the overall series winner will collect $500,000, with prize money down to 18th place.

Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Alexander Smith

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