Visser breaks Chadwick dominance in Zolder practice
Beitske Visser was fastest in the second rain-affected practice session in Zolder.
Two weeks have already passed since the inaugural WSeries race and today it was showtime again for the 20 female stars, who hit the track in Zolder for the first and second free practice sessions.
To ensure a level-playing field in every possible way, the drivers switched cars' chassis as per series regulations after a random draw. And while this will initially cause some headaches to memorize car liveries, WSeries has come up with some significant improvements that will help recognize the drivers, such as bigger numbers and bigger names on the front and sides of the cars.
Only Kimilainen and Gilkes have retained their cars after the first round, following their incident at Hockenheim.
Under a menacing sky in typical Belgian fashion, the first session was once again lead by British Jamie Chadwick, topping the timesheets with a 1:28.862, more than half a second faster than second placed Emma Kimilainen. Beitske Visser ended the session in third, while a very impressive Jessica Hawkins finished fourth, ahead of compatriot Alice Powell.
Highly-ranked Garcia and Wohlwend were 6th and 7th, with Koyama, Rdest and Keszthelyi completing the top 10. Both reserve drivers Vivien Keszthelyi and Sarah Bovy (P12) had really solid runs, as Shea Holbrook showed a visibly improved pace.
The only red flag of the session was brought out by former GP3 driver Vicky Piria, who ran wide and ended up in the gravel.
"I love the circuit. It's really cool and old-school – more like a British track such as Oulton Park or Brands Hatch GP. It's really good fun and I had a big smile on my face from lap one all the way through." - commented series points leader Jamie Chadwick.
"Having not been here before, I had to learn the circuit and try to get into it quite quickly. So I think there was a bit more potential there, but it’s going to be close tomorrow."
The second practice session was a little bit more troubled by the weather, as the cars went on track in damp conditions wich worsened throughout.
For the first time this year, Chadwick lost the lead of the time board, as experienced Dutch Beitske Visser posted a 1:29.490 on a very tricky track. Chadwick wasn't far behind in second, with Garcia in third.
Tasmin Pepper, after a surprising first race in Hockenheim, clocked the fourth time, ahead of Kimilainen and Wohlwend. Alice Powell, currently sitting second in the standings, had seemingly mechanical issues and was forced to sit out the session.
As the rain intensified but wasn't enough for rain tyres, most of the field headed back to the pitlane, with no chance of improving lap times. Only driver to get some more running in the second part of the session was Polish Gosia Rdest, who finished P7, once again in the top 10.
"I drove here last year and it's a very cool track." - said Visser, "it was drizzling a bit from the beginning of FP2, but not enough to seriously wet the track. Then it started raining, but not enough for rain tyres, so we decided not to go out again."
A combination of track layout and unpredictable weather conditions should ensure another thrilling race tomorrow.
Qualifying will start tomorrow at 09:50 local time.
In Beitske's words:
“It's old-school (track), there's no room for error, but I'm definitely enjoying it. ”
Ph credits: WSeries media