Beitske Visser Grabs First Race In Virtual W Series

With no real racing scheduled for 2020, W Series went virtual racing Thursday night for the Italian Grand Prix at the Autodromo Nazionale di Monza.

There were many unknowns for this event, but for the most part, it went as smooth as you could hope for. The race format was laid out well ahead of time, with three races taking place in one event.

In the first race, 20 minutes made up the total length while the second feature was 15 minutes but in a reverse grid. The main event was another 20 minutes.

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Race No. 1

Australian’s Caitlin Wood set the pace in qualifying by qualifying on pole position. Visser also made her name known too, as she would place her car in second right behind Wood.

As the first virtual went green, Visser edged out Wood going into and coming out of Turn 1. Visser set the pace with Wood trying to catch her in the remainder of the 20-minute event. However, it was 16-year-old Irina Sidorkova who impressed many early on by jumping to third and passing Nerea Marti. Sidorkova took it one step further and climbed to second in the middle of the event at the 15-minute mark.

As Sidorkova settled in second, Visser continued at a dominating pace, making it difficult for her other competitors to catch her. Pole sitter, Wood, fell back to the sixth position 13 seconds from the race leader. Visser went onto take the first checkered flag of the three race venture over Sidorkova and Marti. Visser also set the fastest lap for this race as well.

Official Race 1 Results

  1. Beitske Visser
  2. Irina Sidorkova
  3. Nerea Marti
  4. Tasmin Pepper
  5. Gosia Rdest
  6. Caitlin Wood
  7. Jessica Hawkins
  8. Marta Garcia
  9. Jamie Chadwick
  10. Belen Garcia
  11. Ayla Agren
  12. Sabre Cook
  13. Abbie Eaton
  14. Alice Powell
  15. Sarah Moore
  16. Vicky Piria
  17. Naomi Schiff
  18. Bruna Tomaselli
  19. Fabieene Wohlend, one lap down
  20. Emma Kimilainen, one lap down
  21. Miki Koyama, Did Not Star

Race No. 2

The second race featured a reverse grid which meant that the last-place finisher in race No. 1 sat on the pole along with everyone else moving up from the back. This would mean, Emma Kimilainen, who finished last and one lap down, would start first and race winner Visser, would start last.

As race two ensued, there was major chaos when the field piloted into Turn 1. Many of the competitors wrecked but Kimilainen made it through with the lead.

Amidst the early wreck were Bruna Tomaselli and Naomi Schiff who were both sent to the back early on. With the first turn accident, a few drivers were able to take advantage. Gosia Rdest went from 16th to third, and Sidorkova from 19th to sixth, while Visser started last and fought back to 10th.

As the time of the event began to wind down, the battle for the lead started to heat up. Fabienne Wohlwend started to reel in the leader, Kimilainen. Despite a few challenges from Wohlwend, Kimilainen took the race victory 1.7 seconds over Wohlwend. Race No. 1 winner, Visser would finish ninth on the grid.

Official Race No. 2 Results

  1. Emma Kimilainen
  2. Fabienne Wohlwend
  3. Gosia Rdest
  4. Irina Sidorkova
  5. Jamie Chadwick
  6. Marta Garcia
  7. Sarah Moore
  8. Ayla Agren
  9. Beitske Visser
  10. Alice Powell
  11. Abbie Eaton
  12. Tasmin Pepper
  13. Nerea Marti
  14. Caitlin Wood
  15. Vicky Piria
  16. Sabre Cook
  17. Jessica Hawkins
  18. Belen Garcia
  19. Naomi Schiff, one lap down
  20. Bruna Tomaselli, one lap down
  21. Miki Koyama, Did Not Start

Race No. 3

Caitlin Wood would sit on the pole once more for the beginning of race three, while Beitske Visser took second in qualifying.

When the final race went green, Nerea Marti who started fourth and Ayla Agren who started third, had a solid start, more so than the leaders. Unfortunately, Agren spun in Turn 1, which saw Visser move into second.

Visser continued to move forward and passed Marti for the lead, as the race hit the 13 minute mark. Visser went on to her second checkered flag, as Marti and Sidorkova rounded out the top three finishers.

Official Race No. 3 Results

  1. Beitske Visser
  2. Nerea Marti
  3. Irina Sidorkova
  4. Tasmin Pepper
  5. Alice Powell
  6. Gosia Rdest
  7. Sarah Moore
  8. Caitlin Wood
  9. Ayla Agren
  10. Abbie Eaton
  11. Marta Garcia
  12. Bruna Tomaselli
  13. Emma Kimilainen
  14. Naomi Schiff
  15. Fabienne Wohlwend
  16. Jamie Chadwick, one lap down
  17. Vicky Piria, one lap down
  18. Sabre Cook, one lap down
  19. Jessica Hawkins, one lap down
  20. Belen Garcia, four laps down
  21. Miki Koyama, Did Not Start

Beitske Visser who won two out of the three races said that her race went okay but learned to hopefully have a better mindset for upcoming reverse grid races.

“In the first race I got off to a good start, got into the lead and pulled away,” Visser said. “The second race was more chaotic. I had to line up last on the grid and didn’t have a very good start. I had damage so I wasn’t very fast, but I managed to get some points. In the last race, Caitlin [Wood] outqualified me again so I have to work on that. We both messed up the start and were five-wide into turn one, but luckily we survived. In the first few laps Nerea [Martí] was very fast but then I could catch up, overtake her and pull away. The aim is to maintain this form in Austin and hopefully survive the reverse-grid race a bit better.”

On the other hand, Emma Kimiläinen who won the reverse grid, was very excited about claiming the victory.

 “I can’t believe I won the reverse-grid race – it’s crazy!,”Kimiläinen said. “This is completely new to me – the last time I raced cars on a computer I just used the keyboard. It was so nerve-wracking. I’ve never felt like that in a real race because I know what I’m doing, but I have no experience of this so I don’t trust myself under braking. My heartrate was around 140bpm throughout the race, but I didn’t make any mistakes and I’m so happy. What a great experience! I tried to improve after the first race and I’m so grateful to the other girls for helping me with my set-up.”

Impressing many viewers and even at one point leading the championship standings, Irina Sidorkova says she was happy with the results.

“I’m not used to racing on the sim, so it was great to see all the drivers on the grid and I’m very happy with the results,” Sidorkova said. “Before the races in Austin I’ll prepare hard to be a winner, but I know all the girls will do the same so it will be difficult.”

Chief Executive Officer of the W Series, Catherine Bond Muir, was pleased with how the first virtual event turned out.

“In the absence of on-track racing, we’re delighted to have launched the W Series Esports League. The first races, which were run on the fast and historic Autodromo di Monza, were successful and entertaining, and it’s clear that Beitske [Visser], who won a W Series race on track last year [Zolder], is every bit as competitive on an eracing rig as she is in a real race car. Congratulations to her for winning two of the three races at Monza.

“Congrats also to Emma [Kimiläinen], who won the reverse-grid race despite not being a practiced eRacer and therefore not having as much relevant experience as most of her rivals. We’re already looking forward to the next round of races, which will be run on the Circuit of the Americas [Austin, Texas, USA] and will be streamed/broadcast on Thursday, June 18th.

“Many thanks to our eracing partners Logitech, iRacing and Beyond Entertainment, our broadcast partners the BBC and Whisper, our streaming partners YouTube, Twitch and Facebook, our eracing photographic partner Getty Images and of course our global partner ROKiT: a seriously impressive team.”

Up Next: The W Series will virtually travel to Austin, Texas for Round No. 2 Thursday, June 18 at the virtual Circuit of the Americus.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SpeedwayMedia.com.

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