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  • Writer's pictureRACERS

Beitske Visser collects top-10 at first Ultimate Cup appearance

After topping the overall timesheets in Q1, Beitske Visser made her first appearance in the Ultimate Cup Endurance Prototype Challenge with a top ten at the series season finale at Le Castellet.

Beitske Visser, BHK Motorsport, Duqueine D08 LMP3
Photo credits: Gruppe C Photography

Beitske Visser made her first appearance in the final round of the 2023 Ultimate Cup Endurance Prototype Challenge, held as per tradition at Circuit Paul Ricard with a 4 hour race.

Formerly one of the protagonists of the all-female W Series championship – where she was runner up both in 2019 and 2022 – Visser also started a sports car program in 2020, when she raced for Richard Mille Racing Team in European Le Mans Series and then FIA WEC, in her first LMP2 program.

Following the demise of W Series at the end of 2022, the Dutchwoman competed in a partial campaign in NLS at the Nurburgring with all-female squad 'Girls Only' and, towards the end of the year, she returned to prototypes with BHK Motorsport, contesting the final two rounds of the LMP3-based Prototype Cup Germany. Despite highly unfortunate rounds – mostly hampered by issues in practice as well as early contacts to no fault of her own, Visser recorded a P11 as her best finish in Assen.

Partnering former Indycar racer Francesco Dracone, Visser was then back together with BHK Motorsport for the Ultimate Cup season finale at Le Castellet, again at the wheel of the #35 Duqueine M30 LMP3. The Endurance Prototype Challenge on the Ultimate Cup package features a highly competitive field of over 30 prototypes, mainly separated in two classes: LMP3 and NP02.

Despite an issue in the second practice that limited her running time on Friday, Visser's weekend was off to a great start when she topped the first qualifying session on Saturday, clocking a 1:58.186 that put her 0.069 of a second clear of the #8 Zosh Competition LMP3 Ligier of Claude Rosati.

Dracone was P13 in Q2, with a 1:59.319 lap – and Visser further improved in Q3, setting a 1:57.826 that gained the BHK Motorsport's duo fourth place overall on the starting grid of the 4-hour race, shaped by the average lap time from the teams' drivers.

Her outstanding performance in qualifying was a promising sign for the rest of the weekend, having shown speed to potentially run in the top five.

Team Virage's Espirito Santo/King claimed pole position from teammates De La Torre/Guzman – but it would be Francesco Dracone to snatch the lead on the first lap following a stellar getaway by the Italian driver, who was in charge of the first part of the arce for BHK Motorsport. The #35 Duqueine moved from fourth to first and preceded Julien Gerbi.

Dracone held a 6 tenth lead throughout the first five laps, but was eventually under pressure and lost places to Torsten Kratz as well as Gerbi – also after contact with Kratz at turn 14. Hugo Rosati was on a mission and passed Dracone one lap later, then set the fastest lap and advanced to second. The BHK Motorsport machine started to struggle for overall race pace and fell behind NP02 class leaders Eric Trouillet and Karen Gaillard by lap 9.

After a hectic first 30 minutes of racing, Dracone settled in his rhythm in seventh overall, fifth among the LMP3 entries. The experienced Italian then brought the #35 Duqueine back to the pits for the team's first pit stop on lap 25 around the one hour mark; he remained behind the wheel and rejoined P10 in LMP3. Due to the series' regulations that include a mandatory pitstop time and minimum number of stops, Dracone also completed his second stop soon after and ran sixth among the LMP3 cars on two stops. He would also retain the helm of the #35 LMP3 after the third round of pit stops.

At the half-way mark, Francesco Dracone pitted for the fourth stop and Beitske Visser took over for her first stint of the race, from ninth in class and 19th overall. She soon set the team's best lap and started her recovery drive, as the sun went down and the night approached.

Visser gained places in LMP3, moving up from 19th to 16th overall and ninth in class, although the BHK Motorsport driver at that point had a gap of a couple of laps to the class leader and almost a lap to the LMP3 car in front.

Only a full course yellow for debris briefly interrupted the action, and with no neutralizations Visser continued to run consistently, managing the traffic. Positions settled and, having completed the entire second half of the race, Beitske Visser crossed the finish line in ninth place in the LMP3 class, claiming a positive top ten at her first start in the series.

"Francesco did a great start into the lead"; Visser commented. "We missed a little bit of race pace so we lost a few places again and also with our high mandatory minimum pitstop time we knew it wouldn’t be easy, but we pushed the whole race and finished P9."

Despite a part-time season often hampered by bad luck, Beitske Visser's LMP3 commitments in 2023 hopefully laid the foundation for her full time return to endurance racing, albeit her racing plans remain to be confirmed.



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