Beitske Visser storms to victory in Zolder after action-packed W Series race

by Becca Stubbs

Dutch driver Beitske Visser stormed to victory in Zolder, Belgium, but second-placed Jamie Chadwick retains the W Series lead.

Chadwick, who started in pole, looked to continue her winning streak in Zolder but, after a controversial start, Visser went straight into the lead.

And that’s where she stayed throughout the 30-minute race while Chadwick and fellow Brit Alice Powell jostled for second place.

The race in Belgium started controversially, as reserve driver Sarah Bovy had plumes of smoke billowing out of her car before she’d lined up on the grid.

Despite her obvious issues, the green flag was waved and the race began, meaning the Safety Car was deployed to move Bovy’s car off the track.

It was a disappointing debut for the Belgium-born racer, who was handed the chance to take the wheel in her home race on Friday.

Almost as soon as the Safety Car had gone back into the pits, it was required once more as a three-car collision happened on track.

Brit Esmee Hawkey made a bold move on Polish racer Gosia Rdest which didn’t pay off and the duo crashed, taking out reserve driver Vivian Keszthelyi in the aftermath.

Keszthelyi was handed the opportunity to race after Emma Kimilainen fell ill just hours before lights out but her debut ended prematurely as all three drivers were forced to retire. 

The Safety Car took over proceedings once again but Chadwick failed to make the most of the restart and race winner Visser stretched out a hefty lead.

Chadwick’s race for second wasn’t without challenge as Powell pushed her all the way with the duo overtaking each other numerous times in the closing laps.

Eventually, Chadwick crossed the line just 0.633 seconds ahead of third-placed Powell.

Further back down the grid, Miki Koyama made an impressive charge through the pack as she went from thirteenth through to eighth. Koyama’s jump through the pack was her second one of the season as she mounted a similar assault in Hockenheim where she leaped from seventeenth to seventh.

Marta Garcia, who finished third on the podium in Hockenheim, had to settle for fourth after a tense battle with Sarah Moore who ultimately finished fifth.

The next race will be in Misano, Italy, and, as the series hots up, it’ll be an intriguing battle as Chadwick will certainly be looking to return to winning ways.

Koyama will also be looking to put herself in a stronger position during qualifying as her racing performance proves she can challenge anyone given the opportunity.

After her collision, Hawkey will be handed a five-place grid penalty in Italy as others will look to improve on their opening performances.

The W Series will be in Misano from 7-8 June.

95Beitske VisserDUT32:28:49525 Points
55Jamie ChadwickGBR32:36:94618 Points
27Alice PowellGBR32:37:57915 Points
19Marta GarciaESP32:4077412 Points
26Sarah MooreGBR32:41:23410 Points
31Tasmin PepperRSA32:41:6808 Points
5Fabienne WohlwendLIE32:42:4686 Points
85Miki KoyamaJPN32:46:1494 Points
11Vicky PiriaITA32:54:3662 Points
99Naomi SchiffGER32:55:4321 Points
20Caitlin WoodAUS32:58:0910 Points
67Shea HolbrookUSA32:59:3540 Points
21Jessica HawkinsGBR33:07:7690 Points
49Megan GilkesCAN33:15:9080 Points
37Sabre CookUSA33:26:5480 Points
3Gosia RdestPOLDNF0 Points
2Esmee HawkeyGBRDNF0 Points
77Vivien Keszthelyi HUNDNF0 Points
58Sarah BovyBELDNF0 Points

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