Throughout the year, Continental Tire will focus on celebrating the fans, media, drivers, and teams and their contributions to sports car racing, including a weekly trip down memory lane in Sportscar365’s Continental Tire IMSA Reflections series.
This week’s reflection comes from two-time defending IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship GT Daytona class champion Christina Nielsen, who looks back on her 2016 championship season and more.
What was the significance of your first WeatherTech Championship GTD title in 2016?
“It was really a comeback year after we finished second in ’15. I made a switch to Scuderia Corsa and Ferrari racing with Alessandro Balzan.
“The highlights would probably be Sebring and Watkins Glen. To win two of the bigger races is definitely something to remember and something that really stands out.
“I think those are the two moments that stand out the most, and then also when I got out of the car after completing three hours and eight minutes, I believe it was, at Road Atlanta [to clinch the championship], it felt pretty good to just lay down on the pit wall because I couldn’t manage all the cameras that were in my face.
“The only person I wanted to see at that point was my co-driver Alessandro. Jeff Segal had jumped in the car, I looked up and it was Alessandro. That was a very big moment.”
In retrospect, what has the 2016 season meant for your career?
“I think it definitely put me more on the map. I went into ’17 with the same attitude that I went into this year, but this year’s it’s starting from scratch with an all-new team.
“There’s a lot of stiff competition out there but we’re going to be giving it our best. You really never know: just because you win the title last year does not mean you’re entitled to it again the next year.
“The fact that we won it twice in a row is absolutely amazing and not something that that many people have accomplished, so it’s definitely very special.
“I’d love to win a third. I think the secret is to start from scratch and never rely on the results from last year.”
How would you assess your time racing in the WeatherTech Championship on Continental Tires?
“It’s been great. I think the beauty, especially with working with Continental, we’ve had no issues. It’s been super consistent for us.
“They’re always giving notes and giving advice and being there to support your as a driver and as a team.”