Beitske Visser takes two top-10 in GT Open Silverstone round
BMW Motorsport junior driver Beitske Visser completed her second ever International GT Open weekend with two top-10 finish in Silverstone.
W-Series runner-up Beitske Visser entered her second International GT Open race weekend at the British round of Silverstone for Czech team Šenkýr Motorsport, racing under the banner of BMW Junior Team. After a convincing first race at the Red Bull Ring, Austria, where the Dutch lady had clinched an impressive overall podium together with team-mate Richard Gonda, the BMW squad qualified in 11th position for Saturday's first race after Gonda's best lap was deleted for a violation of track limits.
The Slovak driver got behind the wheel for the first stint, taking the #3 BMW up to 10th position after a good start.
Most importantly, Beitske's experienced team-mate was able to avoid the first lap chaotic moments: the McLaren driven by Marcelo Hahn went onto the grass and into the barriers at Maggotts, while further ahead Schandorff spun and was collected by Razak and Wilkinson at Stowe. The incidents resulted in a lengthy Safety Car period.
After almost 20 minutes and with the pit window opening, Gonda was kept out on track: among the different pitstop strategies, the Šenkýr Motorsport BMW climbed the order until third place. With 29 minutes left on the clock, Gonda was finally called in for the driver change and Beitske Visser rejoined in sixth. She soon grabbed 5th place, before the Safety Car had to be deployed again: Davide Roda's stranded Mercedes at the Hangar Straight was removed by the marshals and the race could restart with 12 minutes to go.
At the green flag, Beitske was under huge pressure from the group of faster cars behind and ultimately she had to settle for 8th.
Ahead, the two Emil Frey Lamborghini had checked-out, leaving the fight for the lower step of the podium to Chaves and Crestani.
“Richard did a really good start to stay out of trouble, then we struggled a bit for pace. P8 was the maximum. We’ll try if we can make some improvements for tomorrow and then push again.” - commented Visser after the race.
“The race started in a pretty wild way, so I just tried to get the maximum out of it." - said Richard Gonda, Beitske's co-driver. "It was good racing and I gained a couple of positions. The guys made a great pitstop and in the end, we’ve finished in top-10. But we still need to find more performance in this car, so I and Beitske can have a better chance.”
The setup changes did come overnight and the two drivers were happier with the BMW M6 GT3 performances. Visser qualified 8th for Sunday's race, also taking the start for the opening stint. The 24-year old lady gained one place straight away at the rolling start, but was back to her starting position by the end of the first lap.
She ran a solid stint without mistakes despite having to defend for most of the first half of the race from the attacks of Tujula behind her.
Ahead, it looked like another comfortable 1-2 for Emil Frey Racing, before the driver's changes window opened.
Beitske was called into the pits from P8 and Gonda rejoined in 11th place, while the battle for the lead unfolded: Saravia in the Teo Martin Mclaren grabbed the race lead but was later handed a 1" penalty for a minimum time pit-stop infringement.
Behind him, it was the Lamborghini driven by Giacomo Altoè, who raced for the whole second stint in his rival's slipstream without attempting a decisive move.
Richard Gonda climbed the order and managed to close a six-seconds gap to Cameron: the BMW driver passed the Ferrari with 10 minutes to go and gained P7.
The thrilling battle for victory lit up when Kodric in the second Teo Martin McLaren and Siedler in the second Frey Lamborghini joined the leaders, effectively making a four-way fight for the first place. In the very final minutes, though, it was only Altoè to keep up Saravia's pace and stay within the 1" gap: the McLaren driver crossed the line in first, but it was Altoè to take home the win after the penalty was applied.
In a frantic last lap, another close battle for third saw Kodric, Siedler and Wilkinson coming together at the Loop, as Ramos hit the McLaren which spun and collected the Aston Martin.
Ramos will later receive a penalty, promoting Richard Gonda and Beitske Visser to overall 4th place.
“Today was much better, we made some changes to the car and it improved. I started the race from position 8th and the pace was better then yesterday, still not perfect but we improved, and happy we could finish 4th.” - said Beitske Visser.
Gonda echoed Beitske's comments: “I’m really glad that the car setup changes worked well. Beitske had a good start and managed to handle the pressure from cars behind. I felt great in the car and I was even one of the fastest cars on the track. Then we had a bit of luck in the final lap and it’s a 4th place in the end. I think that was our maximum today."
Visser leaves Silverstone with two top-10 and a 4th place finish after her second ever International GT Open race weekend. The series will now head to Barcelona in two weeks time for its sixth and penultimate round of the championship.
Ph credits: GT Open