Valérie Chiasson debuted in Porsche Challenge Benelux at Spa

Driver Valérie Chiasson, originally from Repentigny (Québec) and currently residing in the Grand Duché of Luxembourg, launched her Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Benelux series debut this weekend at the prestigious Belgian track of Spa-Francorchamps. With everything yet to learn about the track and the series, she qualified in sixteenth before having to retire two laps from the finish of the race, following a contact with an other competitor. This retirement was nonetheless her very first European race, with several more to come this season.

The first female driver to earn an overall podium at Montreal’s Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve (2015 in Nissan Micra Cup) and the only female driver to contest the 2016 Grand Prix du Canada (in Canadian Porsche GT3 Cup), Valérie Chiasson has embarked on a whole new challenge this season as a driver in a well-recognized European championship.

The Spa-Francorchamps track is considered by many to be the best race track in the world, but also one of the most difficult and dangerous. Valérie Chiasson arrived there for the first race weekend of the season without even a kilometer of testing at the wheel of the DVB Racing Team’s Porsche GT3 Cup. In addition, with the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Benelux running as a support race for the World Endurance Championship (WEC – the series comprising of the famous 24 Hours of Le Mans), time allocated to the Porsche Cup competitors was even more restricted this weekend.

« I decided that I would learn the track and the car as much as possible during the two short practice sessions on Thursday » indicated Valérie, who specified : « I’ve already driven a GT3 Cup last year in the Canadian Porsche Cup but the tyres are different in the Benelux series cars and, understandably, I had so much to learn about the Spa-Francorchamps track, with its fast turns and its famous "Raidillon" section ».

Valérie knew that with her lack of experience, it would be practically impossible to climb up to the first half of the peloton during qualifying. Despite that, she was able to qualify in sixteenth (out of twenty-one competitors entered in the Benelux series).

Held in cold but dry conditions, the race saw Valérie maintain her position during the first laps.  Unfortunately, a race incident (contact) caused her to lose three places shortly thereafter and with a damaged car, she was forced to retire with two laps to go. « A door and a wheel were damaged. I stayed on the track as long as I needed to in order to get ranked and score points for the team but it was starting to become very dangerous in the "Raidillon" corner with the wheel that was slowing me down and threatening to break at any moment » explained the driver.

« Naturally, I would have loved to finish the race and fight in the middle of the peloton but the majority of these drivers have been competing in the series for a long time. They are really in tune with their cars and the tracks whereas me, I had everything to learn. Several of them told me that it was a baptism by fire to do my first ever European race at Spa-Francorchamps, but I’m glad I did it. It was the big race of the season, supporting the WEC, and it was important to me and my partners, especially my principal programme supporters VB Energy and Evo Information Systeme » confided Valérie Chiasson, who is also the Canadian representative of the FIA "Women in Motorsport" Commission, which encourages female participation in motorsports.

Valérie will be back on the track in two weeks, on May 20th and 21st, for the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Benelux’s second outing of the season, held on the internationally-classed Dutch Zandvoort track. She will again be driving the #26 DVB Racing Porsche GT3 Cup with whom she paired with at Spa : « They understand that I’m starting in the series and in Europe, they don’t put any negative pressure on me, they are professional and it’s a pleasure to work with the engineer and all the DVB Racing members » she concluded.

Valérie Chiasson will also contest the mid-June Grand Prix du Canada, on the Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve in Montréal, in the Canadian Porsche GT3 Cup.

Valérie Chiasson’s participation in this season’s Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Benelux is in partnership with DVB Racing, EVO Information Systeme and VB Energy.

Valérie Chiasson Press Release