Trio of U.S. drivers make initial cut for upcoming W Series

AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall

Natalie Decker, who races full-time in ARCA and select events in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series and Gander Outdoors Truck Series, made the initial cut for the W Series.

Americans Natalie Decker, Sabre Cook and Shea Holbrook are among the 28 competitors still hoping to earn one of 18 driver spots for the new all-female W Series slated to debut later this year.

The trio made it through the initial selection process, a just-completed three-day combine held at the Wachauring in Belk, Austria, that included on-track time in Ford Fiesta ST and Porsche Cayman S production vehicles.

Next up will be a four-day test in late March that will see drivers behind the wheel of the series' Tatuus F318 Formula 3 car. That event is set for Almeria, Spain.

Decker, 21, competed full-time in the ARCA Series last year with Venturini Racing. She won the pole for the season-opening event at Daytona International Speedway and finished seventh in the points standings with two top-five and 11 top-10 finishes.

She currently is scheduled to return to ARCA competition for 2019 and also run select events in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series and Gander Outdoors Truck Series.

Cook, 24, has a degree in mechanical engineering from the Colorado School of Mines and competed this past season in the USF2000 series, an open-wheel feeder series sanctioned by IndyCar.

The Colorado native was just one of those participating who took to social media Monday to announce they had made the 28-person cut.

Holbook, 28, is a six-time winner in the Pirelli World Challenge Series and has a diverse racing background that even includes competing in a jet dragster.

The testing and evaluation process was overseen by a group that included David Coulthard, the W Series advisory board chairman and a former Formula One driver, as well as former IndyCar competitor Lyn St. James.

"All W Series qualifier-drivers ... are superstars, every single one of them," W Series CEO Catherine Bond Muir said in a media release. "But the sad fact is that not all of them will continue to the next stage of our driver selection program. That's competition. That's sport. That's racing."

Coulthard said the focus will now turn to the upcoming on-track testing in Spain using the series' Tatuus entry "because that's when it really moves up to the next level."

Fifty-four female racers from various disciplines and from all over the world took part in the first on-track test in Austria.

The 20 (18 drivers and two alternates) who make the final cut in Spain will embark on a six-race series contested in Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Italy and the UK. The season is scheduled to run from May through August of 2019.

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