Home Esports Visser and Kimilainen win in W Series Esports opener at Monza

Visser and Kimilainen win in W Series Esports opener at Monza

by Craig Woollard

Beitske Visser and Emma Kimilainen were the winners in the first event of the Formula Renault 2.0-based W Series Esports League at Monza.

The cancellation of the 2020 W Series season means the virtual events, which uses the iRacing simulator programme and the full grid of drivers that qualified for the W Series this season, are a de facto substitution for real racing this year.

Two qualifying sessions determined the grids for the first and third races at Monza, and the results of race one were fully reversed to form the grid for race two.

Caitlin Wood took pole position by a millisecond for the 15-minute first race, but was beaten by Visser off the start. After some early duelling, Visser was able to pull away slightly.

Wood was then in a lengthy battle with simulator racing newcomer Irina Sidorkova. The pair duelled for several laps, before Wood made a mistake at the Ascari chicane.

Visser gained an extra point on the way to victory by claiming fastest lap, with Sidorkova and former Spanish Formula 4 rival Nerea Marti rounding out the podium. Tasmin Pepper, Gosia Rdest and Wood were fourth, fifth and sixth.

Reigning W Series champion Jamie Chadwick had to start from the pitlane after a hardware issue before the start but climbed into the top 10 after avoiding the early chaos.

The fully reversed grid placed another sim racing newcomer on pole for race two in Emma Kimilainen. There was several crashes at the start again, and within one lap Sidorkova had climbed from 19th to sixth, with Visser up to 12th from last.

Rdest also had a very strong opening lap to move up to third, and then started closing down on Fabienne Wohlwend.

Much of the rest of the race was tame, but Sidorkova was able to work her way past Marta Garcia late on, and Chadwick was able to follow.

Kimilainen took a somewhat surprising victory ahead of the squabbling Wohlwend and Rdest, with Sidorkova and Chadwick rounding out the top five.

Wood took pole for the third race, but Ayla Agren leapt into the lead off the line from third. Her lead was short-lived as she spun off at the second chicane on the opening lap, leaving Marti (another sim racing debutant) out in front.

Visser took the lead from Marti halfway through the 20-minute race, and never looked back to take her second victory, fastest lap, and the points lead in commanding fashion. Marti and Sidorkova rounded out the podium.

Pepper took her strongest result of the night in fourth, with Alice Powell triumphing in a lengthy battle with Rdest for fifth.

Sarah Moore finished ahead of polesitter Wood – who had another poor opening lap. Despite setting no time in qualifying, Chadwick worked her way up into the top 10 on lap one and stayed there.