With her second consecutive GT Daytona class championship nearly wrapped up, Christina Nielsen is hoping to “enjoy” next weekend’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season-ending Motul Petit Le Mans, despite an uncertain future.
Nielsen and Scuderia Corsa co-driver Alessandro Balzan claimed their long-awaited first class win of the season in last weekend’s America’s Tire 250, coming after six podium finishes in the ten previous starts this year.
The result puts the pairing with a 26-point lead over Riley Team AMG’s Jeroen Bleekemolen heading into the ten-hour Road Atlanta finale, with Nielsen or Balzan needing only to complete the two-hour and 45-minute minimum drive time to clinch back-to-back IMSA titles.
“Last year we were with the new car, this year we’re on the second year. I don’t think anyone expected us to be in contention [again],” Nielsen said.
“We would be a strong contender for the championship but I don’t think anyone believed we could do it again.
“We’ve been fighting so hard. We’ve had so many podiums, we’ve had good runs, but to finally take the victory, it’s just something about it.
“It doesn’t feel, as a whole, if you’re on the verge of winning a championship, if you don’t have a victory among those podium finishes as well.”
Nielsen’s first win since the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen in 2016 comes amid an uncertain future for the rapid Dane, with WeatherTech Racing’s Cooper MacNeil poised to take over Scuderia Corsa’s Ferrari entry next year.
It will likely leave both Nielsen and Balzan, on the verge of becoming two-time GTD champions, without a confirmed ride for 2018.
Despite the uncertainty, Nielsen is hoping to go out with a strong showing at Petit Le Mans, where she and Balzan will be rejoined by Italian ace Matteo Cressoni at the wheel of the GT3-spec Ferrari.
“The last three years, I’ve always been in contention for the championship,” she said. “There’s always a certain pressure when you go to final race and you can’t enjoy it as much.
“But it’s my favorite track and ten hours is an amazing length for a race. It really challenges the team and the drivers. It’s going to be so nice to go into it and just enjoy driving.
“I don’t know what I’m going to be doing next year but I’m going to enjoy driving that Ferrari 488 GT3 because it is a masterpiece and the team is so good at setting it up. I’m just going to enjoy it as much as I can.”
Nielsen feels her results this year, as one of the most consistent drivers in the GTD field, could help in her ride search for next year.
“I hope so,” she said. “Good results can never hurt. Everyone remembers the champion.
“To have the victory is really nice but the focus is being a champion and repeating what we did last year.”