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NIELSEN: Red Bull Ring Debrief

Christina Nielsen files her latest Sportscar365 column…

Photo: Vision Sport Agency

Photo: Vision Sport Agency

The on-track result at Red Bull Ring in Spielberg, Austria, wasn’t what I and my Formula Racing teammates had hoped for, but it was cool racing on the new surface there.

Red Bull Ring was my very first race in the European Le Mans Series back in 2014. The new curves on the track were a bit of a challenge, but there was a ton of grip – much more than the last time I raced there.

Our team had a good car overall, but for some reason we were just not on pace.

One of the biggest challenges was managing the traffic. It was hard because the prototypes were pretty close to us time-wise, but battling with cars in a totally different class – cars that our car aren’t made to battle with – wasn’t in our favor. Our Ferrari 458 just has different strengths and weaknesses than the LMP 2s and 3s.

On Sunday, I was hit by an LMP car. The driver was trying to overtake too many cars at once while we were in a curve. He was coming up from behind and made contact with me at the last second – there was nothing I could do about it.

The contact took off my right-side mirror, so for the majority of my stint, I didn’t have the mirror on this heavy right-turn track.

While our seventh-place finish wasn’t the podium result we wanted, there were some real positives from the race. The first was that the whole crew really pulled together; the Formula Racing mechanics turned the car around really well at every pit stop.

The second was a very personal positive. I said coming into the Red Bull Ring race that I’d previously found the physical aspects of this circuit quite challenging.

It’s now clear that the level and intensity of my racing and preparation in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship is having a really positive impact on my physical conditioning.

It was a very tough race all around, but I left Austria very encouraged that I’m ready for whatever the remainder of the season throws at me.

Now I’m back in the States and preparing for the Northeast Grand Prix this weekend at Lime Rock Park in Lakeville, Conn.

I’m looking forward to it. Lime Rock Park is the first track in America that I scored a podium finish, in 2014. It’s a demanding track; it’ll be tough with the traffic since it’s narrow and small. There are few places to overtake.

It’s been an awesome month for me and Scuderia Corsa – from winning at The Glen and earning a hard-fought fourth-place finish at Mosport – it’s all been a good time. Simply put, we have great teamwork.

Our team is leading the GT Daytona class in the No. 63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 488 GT3 by 22 points.

My teammate, Alessandro Balzan, said it right during one of our press conferences, “I think the key to our (Scuderia Corsa’s) success is we are having so much fun.”

July was extremely busy, but it’s not slowing down any time soon. I have to study two curriculums for my university degree during the next couple of months, and I have multiple exams coming up.

I’ll be prepping for the IMSA event on the first weekend of August at Road America, but on top of that, I will prepare for my exams.

I’m looking forward to going home to Los Angeles after our Lime Rock Park race and sleeping in my own bed. I can definitely say this is the busiest summer I’ve had in all my years of racing, but it’s a good busy!

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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