Rdest replaces Pepper for Austria W Series races

Gosia Rdest will replace Tasmin Pepper in the first two W Series races of 2021 in Austria after South Africa’s latest COVID-19 travel restrictions meant she was unable to attend.

Polish driver Rdest, who also competed in W Series' inaugural 2019 campaign, will return for the first two rounds of the series' comeback at the Red Bull Ring after the all-female championship was put on hiatus for 2020 by the pandemic.

Pepper, who finished 10th in 2019 with a best result of sixth at Zolder, has been allocated a reserve driver place in the event that changes to the restrictions allow her to take part in races later this season.

Following last month's successful pre-season test at Anglesey in Wales, the series also named its other reserve drivers.

These include 2019 competitor Naomi Schiff, will combine her reserve driver duties with her new role as a commentator and presenter for the championship's TV coverage.

The other drivers are Australian Caitlin Wood, who will be the reserve driver for the first round, and 18-year-old Briton Abbi Pulling, who will be a reserve driver at the second race of the season.

Pulling, a former British karting champion who is currently competing in the British Formula 4 championship, is a protege of W Series race-winner Alice Powell.

W Series Racing Director Dave Ryan said: "Having a strong pool of drivers to call upon at each race is incredibly important as we manage all the uncertainties that come with running a motor racing championship during the ongoing pandemic.

“With this great squad of drivers available, we are confident that we can deal with whatever is thrown at us this season.

“We are delighted to be able to give these drivers – all of whom have proved themselves to be very competitive in W Series' Tatuus T-318 Formula 3 race cars – invaluable racing experience as they continue to build their careers."

Six rookies are joining this year’s grid, including The Grand Tour’s Abbie Eaton, Spanish F4 driver Nerea Marti and Irina Sidorkova, who finished third in last year’s W Series Esports League.

Returning drivers include 2019 champion Jamie Chadwick, runner-up Beitske Visser and Powell.

This year’s eight-race season begins in Austria on June 26 in support of Formula 1's Styrian Grand Prix.

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