Monday, 21 April 2014

Liesette Braams


Liesette with the GT4 BMW

Motorsport has long been a big part of Liesette’s life, being married to racer Luc Braams and mother to racer Max Braams. The Las Moras team is run by the Braams family, with Liesette in a senior role. It is therefore not surprising that she took the wheel herself - more of a surprise that she waited so long (she was 36 when she began racing). Her first car was a BMW 120d, in which she did her first races in 2007. Luc started competing at the same time, with Max coming in a little later.
She joined up with the Verschuur team in 2008, who were working with Las Moras. They were competing in the Dutch Toerwagen Diesel Cup, still in a 120d. Her team-mate was Sacha Broer. She was 59th overall in what was effectively her debut year, but still ahead of her team-mate. In the off-season, she joined up with Sheila Verschuur and Luc Braams for the Dutch Winter Endurance Championship. She was 15th overall after five races, behind Sheila but ahead of Luc.
Liesette joined the satellite Mad and Darring team for 2009, still driving a 120d in the Diesel Cup. Her new partner was Gaby Uljee, another Diesel Cup returnee. This season, she was much faster, and closer to the pace of the leaders. The pair scored two podium finishes at Assen, two fastest laps, and were seventeenth and eighteenth overall (Liesette was 18th).
Another run in the Winter Endurance Championship gave her tenth overall, just behind team-mate Duncan Huisman. They were driving one of the Verschuur 120ds. For a change, she also drove a Volkswagen Golf in the VW Endurance Cup in the Netherlands, for three races. For the first time, Liesette, Luc and Max drove as “Team Braams”. They were 32nd overall.
Liesette returned to the Diesel Cup in 2010, a much improved driver. Driving a Verschuur BMW 123d, she achieved her first win, as well as an additional podium place, two pole positions and two fastest laps. She was sixth in the final standings. Her team-mate was Gaby Uljee once more.
After a couple of races in the Winter Endurance series, she started her fourth Diesel Cup season in 2011. Her car was still a BMW 123d, one of the Verschuur cars, but running as the “Techno Marine” team. She gained a new team-mate in Paulien Zwart, an experienced saloon racer who was returning from a year out due to pregnancy. Liesette was not at her 2010 race-winning pace, and she was thirteenth overall, with Paulien fourteenth.
During the 2011 season, Liesette took part in her first 24 hour race, the Toyo Tyres Series event at Barcelona. She shared a Verschuur 123d with Paulien, plus British drivers Paul Follet and Terry Flatt. They did not finish.
Early in 2012, she teamed up with Paulien, Gaby, Sandra van der Sloot and Sheila Verschuur as the "Dutch Racing Divas", for the Dubai 24 Hours. They were 39th and fourth in class, driving a Renault Clio. The team was the project of Sandra van der Sloot, and was supported by Las Moras.
For most of the year, Liesette drove a BMW 123d for Las Moras in the Burando Production Open championship. She and Sheila Verschuur were back to championship-challenging pace and were fourth overall, after winning three times. This year, Liesette tried out a few different cars: the 123d, the Clio, the 120d she was used to, and a Suzuki Swift. She used the 120d in a couple of rounds of the Dutch Supercar Challenge, and was seventh in class. In the Swift, she made two guest appearances in the Formido Swift Cup.
The Racing Divas reformed for the Dubai 24 Hours in 2013. They drove a BMW 320D supported by Team Schubert, with Liesette as the named lead driver. They were 26th overall, and won the A3T class. Despite this small success, they seriously struggled for sponsorship, and consequently track time, in 2013. Liesette left the team and pursued her own racing interests.
After the Dubai 24 Hours, Liesette drove for Las Moras in the Burando Production Open again, in the BMW. She was eighth overall. She did not manage to win this year, but put in two fastest laps, and ran quite close to the front. As a consolation, she won the Ladies’ award in the BMW Sports Trophy, which takes into account various racing series. She was seventh overall in the Trophy. This followed her most successful run in the Winter Endurance Championship, in which she was third. In a different BMW, she and her team-mates, Cor Euser, Hal Prewitt and Dirk Schulz, won their class at the Hungaroring 12 Hours. They were tenth overall.
Sticking with Eastern Europe, she also took part in the Lotus Ladies' Cup, finishing fourth behind her team-mate, Sheila Verschuur. Her best result was second, at the Hungaroring. The duo were running in Las Moras Elises, and led a small Dutch invasion of the hitherto Eastern European-dominated championship. Mid-season, she did a guest race in a Lotus for a Dutch GT4 championship, too.
For 2014, Liesette teamed up with Bonk Motorsport for the Dubai 24 Hours, driving a BMW M3. She and her team-mates were 40th overall, fourth in class. In the same series, Liesette was part of a team with Michael Bonk and Axel Burghardt for the 12 Hours of Italy, at Mugello. They were tenth overall in the BMW.
She also registered for the European GT4 Championship, in a Las Moras BMW M3 GT4. She and her team-mate, Rob Severs, were front-runners from the start in the "Am" class, finishing their first race, at Misano, in second, and winning the next one, the following day. They secured three more wins, at Zandvoort and the Nürburgring, and were championship runners-up. 
She took part in the Burando Production Open again, driving a BMW 123d. She won Class III at least twice, and was one of the front-runners for the class championship. 

For the first part of 2015, Liesette's year looked promising. She won her class in the Dubai 24 Hours, driving a Las Moras BMW M235. She was part of a Racingdivas team with Sandra van der Sloot, Gaby Uljee and Max Partl, a male driver. They were 23rd overall. Driving for the Bonk Motorsport team, Liesette then won her class again in the Mugello 12 Hours, in the same car. She was 29th overall, as part of a four-driver team.

Unfortunately, she had to sit out the rest of the season, after being diagnosed with cancer, and undergoing treatment. 

In 2016, she managed to return to the racetrack, as her treatment had concluded. She started the year with the Dubai 24 Hours, and was third in the Cup 1 class in a BMW 235, run by Bonk Motorsport. Later in the season, she raced in the GT4 European Series, in a Las Moras BMW M3. Her best finish was fifth in the Am class, at Zandvoort. She was eleventh in the championship. 
(Image from www.autosport.nl)

No comments:

Post a Comment