In a pivotal seventh race of the year in Singapore, Beitske Visser won her maiden race of the 2022 W Series, which is in genuine danger of not being able to finish the season owing to financial issues.
The second win of Beitske’s W Series career and her first since the Dutch drivers second race of the inaugural season in May 2019 came after she took the lead at the opening corner, before holding off a charging Alice Powell. Pole-sitter Marta Garcia completed the podium at Marina Bay. It was also the first retirement for championship leader Jamie Chadwick in W Series.
Visser’s victory sees her take second place in the championship, seven points clear of Powell in third. Chadwick remains a comfortable 50 points ahead with three races remaining and a maximum 75 points to be won.
Reigning double champion Chadwick had the chance to claim her third straight title at the first-ever race in Asia but having only managed to qualify P8 in a rain disrupted session, the Brit crashed out in the closing stages of the race when running in sixth place.
In trying to close the gap with Hawkins in P5, Chadwick was late on the brakes at Turn 7, and locked a wheel. Despite having some run-off on the exit of the corner, the championship leader collided with the barriers and retired from the race.
That brought out the safety car as the Jenner Racing car was removed and when it was time for the safety car to return to the pit lane it was a final-lap shootout. Visser made the better restart to retain her lead going into Turn 1 and kept her cool to seal victory.
Such a frenetic finish led to some close times as cars crossed the finish line. Belen García finished fourth, behind her, compatriots Jessica Hawkins, Abbi Pulling, and Sarah Moore, who all crossed the line little more than one tenth of a second apart in fifth, sixth, and seventh place respectively.
On her second W Series win, Visser said; “I was very happy with that one. It is such a relief to get the win and I’ve been waiting for it for a long time. I think it’s been coming for the last few races as we’ve always been there. I got a good start and in the first few laps I was very strong. Alice was a bit quicker after that, but I managed to hold her off and at the end I was strong again. I had to defend from her once, but after that I knew at which point I had to push to make sure she couldn’t try a move and then it was fine. I was a bit worried about the start of the race as they changed my clutch a bit from yesterday for the biting point and it was a bit of a guess, but thankfully we guessed right!”
Of course, this all comes amongst the increasing financial difficulties the series is facing. Speaking earlier in the week, CEO Catherine Bond-Muir was facing the real possibility that the final two races in Austin and Mexico City may not take place. “I hope that the last two races will go ahead,” Bond-Muir, told the waiting media at the Marina Bay track. “We’ll have to make a decision next week.”
Bond Muir said the current cash flow issue was the result of a long-term deal with a major investor falling through at the last minute.
“I was in San Francisco at the weekend and money that had been contracted to come in, didn’t come in,” she said. “These things tend to be like a bit of a slow train crash. There’s a day in which you’re supposed to receive money and then it doesn’t arrive and then you chase it for a bit and then you go over and sit in front of them and say, ‘Where’s the money?”
It appears the series will look to take legal action against the investor who pulled out, while fresh funding is secured.
“There’s lots of interest, I don’t know where it can land up,” she said.
W Series, which is free to enter, had net liabilities of 7.5 million pounds as of the end of last year, information which can be found on Companies House.