Beitske Visser extended her lead at the top of the W Series Esports League by winning two of the three races in round two at Circuit of the Americas, Austin, Texas, USA.
Just as she did a week ago at Autodromo Nazionale di Monza, Italy, the 25-year-old Dutch driver won races one and three at COTA. In between those victories, Beitske came from last to sixth in the reverse-grid race which, in another repeat of round one, was won by Finland’s Emma Kimiläinen, 30.
A bonus point for setting the fastest lap in the third race meant Beitske earned 51 points in Austin, giving her a W Series Esports League total of 100 and a 14-point lead over Irina Sidorkova in the League table. The 16-year-old Russian was the second-highest scorer in round two by finishing eighth, second and third for a total of 40 points, one more than Alice Powell. The Briton leapt from 10th in the League table after round one to third thanks to third-placed finishes in the opening two races at COTA and an eighth-placed finish in the final race. The 27-year-old added a bonus point for the fastest lap in race one.
Alice trails Irina by 28 points in the League table and leads fourth-placed Nerea Marti by a single point. Caitlin Wood is one point further back in fifth. The 23-year-old Australian scored 36 points at COTA by finishing fourth, 10th and second.
The W Series Esports League table after round two is as follows:
Beitske took pole position by four tenths of a second from Caitlin in qualifying. However, those two were slow away from the front row, allowing the all-Spanish second-row pairing of Marta Garcia and Nerea to lead after Turn One. Beitske passed Nerea for second place with 11 of the 15 minutes remaining and closed to within half a second of Marta at the halfway stage when the top five drivers were separated by four seconds. A minute later, as they made their way through the backmarkers, Beitske snatched the lead from Marta and pulled away. Alice overtook Caitlin with five minutes left and withstood a strong challenge from the Australian on the final lap.
Race 1 Results
|18||97||Bruna Tomaselli||-1 LAP||16||0|
|19||11||Vicky Piria||-1 LAP||19||0|
Vicky Piria started the reverse-grid race from pole position and the Italian got away cleanly. She was passed after a few corners by Bruna Tomaselli, before both drivers had contacts in separate incidents during a frantic opening lap. As several drivers pitted for repairs, Emma tiptoed her way through the chaos to reach the head of the field and established a nine-second lead over Jessica Hawkins after five minutes. Irina got up to second with six minutes left by passing Jessica, who ran wide a minute later to let Alice through into third. Irina was catching Emma at more than one second per lap in the closing stages, but the Finn survived the scare and Alice completed the podium having made up 14 places – more than any other driver in the race.
Race 2 Results
|19||22||Belen Garcia||-1 LAP||11||0|
Beitske qualified fastest and made amends for her poor start in race one with a solid start this time. Tasmin Pepper retained second behind Beitske until the final corner of lap one where a spin dropped her back to sixth. Nerea was now Beitske’s closest challenger, two seconds behind, but the Spaniard was focused on her mirrors where Caitlin and Irina loomed large and the pressure told with 12 minutes left when Nerea spun. The battle for second allowed Beitske to pull out a six-second lead at the midway point, and the scrap behind her continued throughout the second half of the race. Irina rarely trailed Caitlin by more than a second, but the latter kept her cool to finish runner-up to Beitske, who completed a dominant lights-to-flag victory.
Race 3 Results
|20||44||Abbie Eaton||-1 LAP||9||0|
Round three is at Brands Hatch Grand Prix Circuit, Kent, UK, next Thursday, 25 June at 19:00 BST. Watch all three races on BBC iPlayer, BBC Red Button, BBC Sport website and W Series’ Twitch, YouTube and Facebook channels.
Beitske Visser: “Circuit of the Americas is a very different track to Monza [the host circuit for round one of the W Series Esports League] which has long straights and heavy braking. COTA is fast and flowing, especially the first sector. If you make a mistake in one corner you mess up quite a few corners afterwards, so you need to be in a good flow. Track limits are an issue too so it can be difficult to get a good lap in qualifying. Hopefully I can keep winning, that’s the aim, but everyone else will be practising hard as well. Brands Hatch is a shorter track, so I expect everyone to be closer.”
Emma Kimiläinen: “I don’t know how I keep winning the reverse-grid race! I was nervous and shaking because every time I brake is a mystery. I don’t have consistency, but I saw a few good places to overtake, had some luck and managed to get a big lead. I’m happy and shocked that I won. Sim-racing is very different to real life, but it will be easier to practise for Brands Hatch because I’m familiar with that circuit. I had never driven COTA so I didn’t have any muscle memory. I’ll be one step ahead with that at Brands, but Beitske [Visser] is very fast.”
Alice Powell: “I have no idea why I’ve improved since Monza [where Alice finished 14th, 10th and fifth]. I wish I knew because I did the same amount of practise. Staying out of trouble is huge and I managed that in the first two races at COTA. The final race I thought was going to be a disaster and it was. I was in the pits getting a repair, came out last and managed to get up to eighth. Someone needs to stop Beitske [Visser] and hopefully I can do that at Brands Hatch. I know the circuit [Alice won the on-track W Series race there last August] and I’ll try to stay out of trouble.”
Caitlin Wood: “The fear factor is taken away on the sim because you’re not in the moment, so people make more moves than they would on-track. We’d all prefer to be racing real cars, but the W Series Esports League is a great initiative to show more women in the sim-racing environment. I’m enjoying it and happy that I’m up at the front so far. I just need to stay out of trouble in the races and I managed that today. I’d like to think I could win a race at Brands Hatch. Qualifying well helps you stay out of the carnage and the goal is to beat Beitske [Visser].”
Tasmin Pepper: “In the last race I started on the front row and the nerves kicked in. I made a mistake, ran off the track and got a penalty so I had to slow down. At the last corner I took too much kerb and half spun so I went back to seventh. In sim-racing I get more nervous than in the actual car which is weird because it’s a game, but we take it seriously. It’s a different technique on the sim because you’re just depending on the steering wheel for feedback. Doing more laps will help me get faster, but I have a day job so I can’t do as much. I need to stop making mistakes and getting so nervous to catch Beitske [Visser] and Caitlin [Wood].”
Lee McKenzie (W Series Esports League Presenter):
“The second trio of W Series Esports League races were run on the Circuit of the Americas, the complex and challenging home of the United States Grand Prix in Austin, Texas. As was the case in the first trio of W Series Esports League races, at Monza, the winners were Beitske [Visser] and Emma [Kimiläinen].
“W Series’ reigning champion Jamie [Chadwick] didn’t take part this time, because she was busy elsewhere, but it was good to see Alice [Powell] bounce back to form in Austin, with two podiums in three races, having not fared so well at Monza. She won the W Series race at Brands Hatch in real life last year, and that’s where next week’s W Series Esports League races will be run, so I’m sure she’ll be eager to do well there.
“The W Series Esports League makes for good TV and we’re delighted that the BBC is broadcasting it on its BBC Sport Online and iPlayer platforms.”
Billy Monger (W Series Esports League commentator):
“I really enjoyed commentating on the W Series Esports League races for the first time. Austin is a tricky circuit, and inevitably some of the W Series drivers got to grips with it better than others, but the three races were all competitive and entertaining.
“Nothing can compare with on-track racing – we all miss it – but I’m a keen eracer and it’s the next best thing. The W Series Esports League has been well set up, and the Logitech kit, the iRacing platform and the Beyond Entertainment organisation blend well.
“At Brands Hatch next time out let’s see if someone can catch the flying Dutchwoman, Beitske [Visser]!”