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Christina Nielsen files her latest Sportscar365 column…

Photo: Scott LePage/IMSA

Photo: Scott LePage/IMSA

Although the outcome at VIR wasn’t what we wanted, I’m hopeful and excited for Scuderia Corsa’s last two races of the season, at the Lone Star Le Mans in mid-September and the Petit Le Mans in early October.

We’re hitting the last stretch of our successful 2016 IMSA season, and I couldn’t be racing with a better group of people.

VIR was a GT-only event, with the GT Le Mans and GT Daytona classes as the headliners. I think it was great to have a two-car class weekend – it was easier to find our rhythm in the practice sessions with only two types of cars on track.

Scuderia Corsa battled a lot of elements last weekend at VIR, including difficulty to get heat in the tires, a run-off, a puncture and a driver penalty for an unpredicted over-boost.

I started in seventh, and we fought our way back to position six. But after the driver penalty for the over-boost, Alessandro Balzan and I finished eighth.

Following the race, we found out that a post-race exclusion for the No. 44 Magnus Racing Audi R8 LMS due to a ride-height infringement caused Balzan and me to end up in seventh place. This exclusion also extended our GTD lead by 20 points.

Of course, it takes a bit of pressure off that we extended our points lead. But at the same time, that’s not how we like to do it. We definitely don’t want to win a championship for these types of things.

Magnus did a good job Sunday, but rules are rules. Just like we were penalized for an over-boost, they were penalized, too – neither were minor details.

It’s not the race we wanted, but that’s what happens. I’m incredibly grateful for being with guys and gals who are fighters. Scuderia Corsa pushes me to be better even when I go through tough situations or have a bad day.

Every team experiences this type of weekend, and I have no doubt we will come back at the Lone Star Le Mans on Sept. 15-17 at Circuit of The Americas.

I want to be back up front, and I think we can do it there. Plus, I’m really looking forward to going back to Austin; it’s a cool place. It’s going to be a great atmosphere, and I wish it was next week already!

Scuderia Corsa has done a great job all season. They’ve excelled at setting up the car for each race, and we’ve had fantastic pit stops.

On top of that, my teammate Alessandro and I have been driving hard. Our team’s solid performances all year have helped us remain in the GTD class lead. The Ferrari has been a strong weapon for us.

Scuderia Corsa is an amazing team that never gives up. They always keep pushing. I feel really lucky to be racing with them. We have a great time together as a team – we laugh, we joke, we enjoy being together.

It’s important because, especially after a weekend like we had at VIR, people may be disappointed with your performance, but they still give you a high-five and a clap on the shoulder when you get out of the car.

With two rounds left in the championship, there’s pressure. But it’s also exciting. I’m happy that we have a decent lead of 20 points, and I know we are going to do our best to fulfill our quest to get more points at the last two races of the season.

Following COTA, we have the 2016 season finale – Petit Le Mans on Sept. 28-Oct. 1 at Road Atlanta. I love the Petit Le Mans track – it was the first track I ever raced on in America, which was back in 2013.

That race is a 10-hour endurance race, and it’s my favorite event and circuit. However, I’m hoping for a bit better weather this year than the rain of 2015!

Christina Nielsen (@ChristinaRacing) is the 2015 IMSA GT Daytona class championship runner-up finisher, driving for Scuderia Corsa in the 2016 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and Formula Racing in the European Le Mans Series.

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