Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Sheila Verschuur


Sheila in 2010

Sheila Verschuur was born in 1986 in Nijmegen, the Netherlands. She is from a motorsport family: team boss and former racer Frans Verschuur is her father, and Mike Verschuur, another popular Dutch driver, is her younger brother. Therefore, it is not surprising that she decided to go into the family business.

Her first race was in 2002, when she was just sixteen. She took part in one round of the Toyota Yaris Cup, the Trophy of the Dunes at Zandvoort. An excursion off-track kept her off the podium. The following year, she did three races in the Yaris, and did enough to come second in the Ladies’ standings, including a third place in her second-ever race. She was fourteenth overall.

In 2004, she had her first full racing season, in the SEAT Cupra Cup. Driving with Michel Schaap for the endurance element of the competition, she was much more on the pace, and they were second overall, by only eight points. She stayed with the Cupra Cup in 2005, teaming up with Sandra van der Sloot. They were sponsored by the Dutch Army, and finished third overall. The Army team’s sister car, driven by Michel Schaap and Marcel Duits, came in fifth.  

For Sheila’s next season in the Cupra Cup, she stuck with the Army team and Sandra as a team-mate. They won the championship comfortably, by 40 points. That year, Sheila also took part in her first international race. Driving for her family’s Orbit team in a SEAT Ibiza, she was sixth in class in the Dubai 24 Hours. For the first time, her team-mate was her brother, Mike. Tim Buijs made up the team. Sheila and Mike had previously competed against each other in the off-season Dutch Winter Endurance Championship.

A busy year followed. Sheila tried single-seater racing in the form of Formula Gloria in the Netherlands, entering one race. However, her focus remained tin-tops. What would be her last season in the Cupra series, still in the Army car, gave her a second place, with Sandra van der Sloot. They won four of their twelve races and were never off the podium, but Ferry Duivenvoorde and Ronald Morien had more wins. As well as the SEAT, Sheila also raced a VW Golf in the Volkswagen Endurance Championship, alongside Jacques Walch and Coen Hagendoorn. Despite a podium finish, fastest lap and pole position, they could only manage 21st overall, due to only contesting seven races.  

In 2008, Sheila drove for her family team again in the Dubai 24 Hours, in its third car, a Renault Clio. With Harrie Kolen and Mickey Bertram, they were third in class A2. Still sponsored by the Dutch Armed Forces, she also drove the car in the Sportmaxx Clio Cup. The Verschuur drivers were her rivals this time. Her best finishes were three top-three places, and she was ninth overall.

With the same team-mates as before, she tried the VW Endurance series again, and did slightly better this time, in seventeenth, although her race results were very similar to before.

On paper, 2009 was a quieter year, based around the Clio Cup. However, Sheila really found her feet in the series, and managed her first Clio win. She also scored five top-three finishes, and was fourth in the championship.  Earlier in the season, she was third in the Dubai 24 Hours. Her car was a Renault Clio III RS, and her team-mates were Nikolajus Bystriakovas, Vitoldas Milius and Karolis Siksnelis.

In 2010, she went one better, winning two races and finishing on the podium seven times. She was third overall, just behind her team-mate, Sandra van der Sloot. 

2011 saw her partnership with the Dutch Army end, and she returned to Equipe Verschuur, for a double-pronged Clio campaign, in the Dutch series and the Eurocup. Despite a string of very strong finishes, including two second places, Sheila could not produce another win, although she was still second behind Sebastiaan Bleekemolen. The Eurocup was a mixed experience; she was solidly in the top ten for the first two meetings, with a best finish of fifth at the Nürburgring, but a 28th place at Paul Ricard in her sixth and last round was a disappointment. She was tenth in the championship.

In 2012, she joined the Dutch Racingdivas team. This is an all-female driving team, supported by Equipe Verschuur, competing in a number of events. They were 39th and fourth in class in the Dubai 24 Hours, driving a Clio. The RacingDivas this time were Sheila, Liesette Braams, Paulien Zwart, Gaby Uljee and Sandra van der Sloot.
As well as promotional activities for the Racingdivas, Sheila also drove for their sister team, Las Moras, run by Liesette and her partner, in the Burando Production Open. She was fifth overall after winning three times, driving a BMW 123d. This was a car of which she had some experience in the Dutch Winter Endurance Series.

The Racingdivas remained active for the 2013 season. Their first outing was the Dubai 24 Hours. Their car was a BMW 320d, supported by the Schubert team. The same squad as in 2012, including Sheila, was 26th overall, winning class A3T. Although the Divas continued to make appearances and promote themselves, their on-track time was very limited this year, due to funding issues. Sheila stepped away from the Divas setup, along with Liesette Braams, and concentrated on competing with the associated Las Moras team.

Her season picked up during the late summer, when she travelled to Eastern Europe for the Lotus Ladies' Cup, alongside her Las Moras team-mate, Liesette. Sheila was instantly on the pace, and quickly came to dominate the Cup, winning nine races out of twelve. After her first Lotus Ladies' championship, she travelled to India with some other Cup drivers to take part in the Ultima Queens Cup, a women's two-race mini-championship. She won that, too.

As well as her on-track exploits, Sheila also had a slot on a Dutch motoring TV programme, where guests raced against her in their own cars.

In 2014, she seems to have done some promotional work for Jaguar, but did not race. 

(Picture from http://www.equipeverschuur.nl/sheila)

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