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  • Writer's pictureRACERS

Francisca 'Kika' Queiroz makes debut in 24H Series

Portuguese 17 year old Kika Queiroz made her first start in the 24H Series. While her 6 Hours of Abu Dhabi was over prematurely due to an accident involving one of her teammates, Queiroz has collected crucial experience and made good improvements through the sessions.

Kika Queiroz, P21 Motorsport Porsche, 6H of Abu Dhabi 2024
Photo credits: Creventic

The Creventic's 24H Series has traditionally been a great platform for up-and-coming drivers targeting a competitive yet accessible platform to develop their skills in endurance racing - and the start of the 2024 season has been another proof of this concept, with a packed grid for the 6 Hours of Abu Dhabi, brought forward by one week due to the logistic challenges that have impacted the 2024 24 Hours of Dubai.

Among the 43 teams and 125 drivers, two female drivers entered the race: Stéphane Kox - an experienced driver with starts in formulas, prototypes, GT4 and GT3 who is also a popular F1 pit reporter for Dutch television - as well as Francisca 'Kika' Queiroz, a 17-year-old Portuguese talent who has made her step up from karting to GT cars last year.

Queiroz made her karting debut in 2020 and immediately impressed by winning the national title in the junior women's category; in 2022 she represented Portugal at the FIA Motorsport Games in the karting sprint senior discipline, then made her debut in race cars the following year, contesting the Iberian Porsche Sprint Challenge.

The 6H of Abu Dhabi was Queiroz's first appearance in the 24H Series and she teamed up with compatriots Alexandre Fonseca and Ruben Costa at the wheel of the #721 first-generation Porsche 991 GT3 Cup, operated by P21 Motorsport - the same team that helped her through her first season in the Iberian series, where she collected two podium finishes at Aragon and Jerez.

In the first testing sessions, Queiroz focused on familiarize with the track and finding her rhythm, and the practice session held on Saturday morning showed good potential, as she set a respectable 2:07.557 lap as her personal best. The team, entered in the GTX category, would focus their effort on learning and collect mileage and experience.

In qualifying, the #721 bright pink P21 Motorsport Porsche was first driven by Alexandre Fonseca in the first session, who slotted in P42 overall and seventh in GTX with a 2:28.800. Ruben Costa took over for Q2 and gained a position in class. The final qualifying segment was in the hands of Kika Queiroz - who clocked a competitive 2:08.905 lap to cement seventh in GTX and P42 on the overall starting grid.

The start of the race, though, turned out to be a bit challenging for the #721 Porsche, as Ruben Costa could take the start with an almost 2 minute delay. Nevertheless, Queiroz's teammate recorded consistent lap times around the 2mins 08s and tried to reduce the gap from the cars ahead.

Kika Queiroz, P21 Motorsport Porsche, 6H of Abu Dhabi 2024
Photo credits: Creventic

Throughout the first hour, the pink P21 Motorsport Porsche of Costa improved its pace and, running on low-two minute laps, held seventh in class, quickly closing in on the TCR cars.

The first round of pit stops saw Kika Queiroz taking over the car from P41, P6 in GTX after making up one place over the Toro Verde Ginetta. In her first stint, Kika ran cleanly and very consistently, continuing her progress over the course of the entire weekend.

The first full course code-60 came at the 2 hours mark, when the GPM by Dragon Mercedes came to a halt with a suspension failure. Several teams used the opportunity to pit - and so did Kika Queiroz, who completed a very solid stint, well managed the multi-class traffic and handed over to Alexandre Fonseca, who retained P6 in GTX.

After a short code-60 for debris, the race was neutralized again for a huge crash for the #223 Lamera Cup of Daniel Lamoulie, whose car was completely destroyed after impact with the barriers at turn 4, which required a lengthy barrier repair.

The race resumed and reached its midway point; unfortunately another accident triggered a code 60: this time it would be the #721 Porsche 991 car driven by Fonseca, who was hit by the #710 Leipert Lamborghini of Gerhard Watzinger while he was being overtaken by a quicker GT3 car. Watzinger hit the barriers hard and was out of the race, while Fonseca could return to the pits with damage. Kika Queiroz was quickly back behind the wheel and the pink Porsche was sent back out after some bodywork repair, but the car was eventually retired one lap later, having sustained a more substantial damage.

While their race was over after 73 laps, Kika Queiroz collected crucial experience, making good improvements through the sessions and gaining confidence in her 28-lap stint. Although the P21 Motorsport team is not scheduled to return to Dubai, Queiroz's 2024 season is certainly worth keeping an eye on.



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