Christina Nielsen is poised to make sports car racing history in this weekend’s Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta, on the brink of winning the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship GT Daytona class title.
If Nielsen completes her required minimum of three of the ten hours of the final event of the season in the No. 63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 488 GT3, she will become the first female driver to win a major North American sports car racing championship, including IMSA, GRAND-AM and ALMS.
Melanie Snow is the only woman to have won a title in ALMS competition, in the pilot season of the GTC class, which consisted of only five races.
“Petit is definitely my favorite event of the entire year, but I think it’s also the event that I’m most nervous about,” Nielsen said. “I know I was last year because we were in contention to win the championship, and we’re going into the same position this year. We do have a much bigger lead this year, which makes me a little bit more calm.”
Following a third-place finish in the Lone Star Le Mans at Circuit of the Americas, Nielsen and Scuderia Corsa teammate Alessandro Balzan lead the GTD class by 32 points over the second-place duo of Ben Keating and Jeroen Bleekemolen.
Nielsen’s sixth podium finish of the season, at Lone Star Le Mans, is a career best.
Last season, she stood on the podium five times en route to a second-place finish in the GTD standings by just two points.
“I know we still need to bring it home,” she said. “We always want to finish on a good note. My dad (former Danish driver Lars-Erik Nielsen) used to say, ‘You’re never better than your last race,’ because people always remember the last race. It’s always great to do well at the end of the season.
“Road Atlanta is my favorite track. It’s the first track I ever raced on in America. It scared me, and I remembering thinking, ‘Is every track like this here?’ I’ve grown to love it, though; it has an amazing flow and setup. Plus I think a 10-hour race will be a great length for our team.”
Jeff Segal, the team’s third driver for endurance events, will join Nielsen and Balzan behind the wheel of the Prancing Horse.
The trio has been formidable this season, winning two of the three previous endurance races, the Twelve Hours of Sebring in March and the Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen in early July.
Following the team’s success in these endurance races, Nielsen and Scuderia Corsa are also in the running for the IMSA Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup. Nielsen is in second place by just two points and the upcoming Petit Le Mans endurance race will determine the winner.