Saturday, 2 August 2014

Beitske Visser


Beitske after her Lausitz win, in 2012

Beitske Visser is a young Dutch driver with several race wins to her name. Among the current crop of female single-seater drivers, she is probably the most successful, despite her young age and relative inexperience. She began karting competitively at the age of seven, and by 2011, she was competing in the European championships.
Her move into senior motorsport was quick, and she made instant progress. Even her first major race, a round of the 2011 Dutch Supercar Challenge, gave her a win, in the Race 4 Slovakia Praga R4S. For the time being, she kept karting as her main focus, having proved her worth in a car.
In 2012, in search of competitive single-seater racing, she travelled over the border to Germany, to compete in ADAC Formula Masters, which has rounds at Zandvoort. She was driving for Team Lotus.  Her first races, at Oschersleben, gave her a promising ninth and fifth, as well as a DNF, which also caused her to miss the next meeting, as well as the first Zandvoort race. However, she was on the pace on the second day, finishing eighth in the first race, and winning the second one. Later in the season, at Lausitz, she won another race, this time from pole. One of these came from taking advantage of a reverse grid, but was a victory nevertheless, fought for and deserved. Apart from her two wins, her best result was fourth, also at Lausitz. Despite her race-winning speed, Beitske was not always consistent, and mostly finished in the lower half of the top ten. She was eighth overall, despite not doing a full season.
That year, she also travelled to Azerbaijan for some all-star street racing, in a Porsche GT3. She was thirteenth in the Baku City Challenge GT race, alongside Christian Bracke. They were competing against Jacques Villeneuve and Jos Verstappen, among others. Beitske also entered the Sprint race at Baku, in the same car.
Her exploits, and winning ways, in 2012 were enough to draw the attention of Red Bull’s talent scouts. She was signed up to the Red Bull Junior Team development programme for 2013. This meant practical support, and considerable sponsorship for her coming season.
Aided by Red Bull money and guidance, she embarked on a second season in Formula Master. To begin, she carried on where she left off, with eighth and ninth places at Oschersleben.  At Spa, she had another DNF, but it was not serious, and she was 16th and eighth in her next two races. At the Sachsenring, she started off a disappointing fourteenth, but moved up to seventh in the second race, and won the third. This was her only win of the season, but she managed another podium (a third) at the Slovakiaring, and a fourth at the Nürburgring. This added up to a slightly more consistent 2013, and she was tenth in the championship again.
Unfortunately, the Red Bull Junior Team managers were not sufficiently impressed with Beitske’s progress. It was announced in November that she was no longer part of the development squad.
This must have been a big setback for her, but she carried on with her motorsport activities, getting in as much practice and experience as she could, in both karts and cars. She put together a deal with the Spanish-based AVF team for the Formula Renault 3.5 Series in Europe. In order to train most effectively with her team, she moved to Barcelona. Her team-mate was the Swiss driver, Zoël Amberg. Formula Renault was a new experience for Beitske, and proved a steep learning curve. Her first race weekend, at Monza, started with a mystery car failure during the last qualifying session, then moved on to a puncture in the first race. She pushed hard in the second race, made up several places, but then made a mistake, and ended up in 17th place. The second weekend, at Motorland in Spain, did not include a DNF, but did feature problems in qualifying, a fightback, and then a mistakes. She was 18th and 16th.
During a break in FR3.5 proceedings, she accepted a drive in GP3 with Hilmer Motorsport, at her adopted home track of Catalunya. This was the first meeting of the season. Rain, associated tyre issues, problematic qualifying sessions and a poor start in the first race left her 15th and 18th, although as usual, she did make up some places during the races themselves.
Monaco was the next FR3.5 race. She was 17th overall, but lucky to finish, after damaging her car at the start. She managed to set some good lap times during the race itself, but could not convert them into places. However, at Spa, she finally managed her first points finish, a tenth place, after qualifying in 18th. In the second race, she also improved on her qualifying position, despite another little crash, and was fourteenth. In Moscow, she was thirteenth in both races, and was performing better in qualifying. At the Nürburgring, she just managed to finish the first race in 19th, following another puncture. More encouraging was the fact that she qualified in eleventh, with the same time as Zoël Amberg. She struggled to qualify for the second race, in the rain, and was running in twelfth when she crashed into a car going across the track.
In the last round of the season, she achieved her best result: a fifth place at Jerez. She was 21st in the championship. Beitske’s overtaking ability was often noted, a skill which is sometimes lamented in modern motorsport. She was among the leading rookie drivers in FR3.5.

In 2015, she had a second season in FR3.5, driving for AVF again. The early part had some disappointments, including a DNF in the first race at Motorland, and a penalty, for a technical infringement with the underside of her car, at Spa. This was particularly frustrating, as she had qualified in second place, and was dropped to the back of the grid. She bounced back with her first top ten of the year in Hungary, finishing ninth, and she was also tenth at the Red Bull Ring. For the rest of the season, she mostly kept it on track, but could not push into the points-paying positions consistently. She was 23rd overall.

In August, she did another two guest spots in GP3, for the Trident team. She raced at Spa, and finished one of her races, fifteenth place. 

She joined up with Teo Martin Motorsport in 2016, and raced in Formula V8 3.5. It was a solid, if unspectacular season, and she was thirteenth overall. She was a top-ten regular, with a best finish of seventh, which she earned three times, at Jerez, Spa and the Hungaroring.
Away from racing, she seems to have considerable gymnastic ability, as evidenced by pictures on her Twitter feed, which show her in difficult balance positions. Despite her ex-pat status, she is proud of her origins, and her car is Dutch orange.
(Image from http://www.kartcom.com/it/pressrel/cpr/one-more-victory-for-visser)


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