As one of only two female drivers racing full-time in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship – the other is Prototype racer Katherine Legge – there’s something else to distinguish Christina Nielsen from the rest of the competitors in the GT Daytona class: With just three races to go, Nielsen sits atop the points for the season championship.
And you’d think the fact that she’s all by herself in the points lead would be a good thing, as the next 14 drivers in the points are all tied with at least one other competitor, the way Paul Miller Racing Audi teammates Christopher Haase and Dion von Moltke are tied for second, and Scuderia Corsa Ferrari teammates Bill Sweedler and Townsend Bell are tied for third.
“But really,” Nielsen said, “I wish I could share the lead with a teammate.”
James Davison, her co-driver through Detroit, had other commitments, and was replaced in June at Watkins Glen with Kuno Wittmer, GT Le Mans champion for 2014.
“Still,” she admits, “it feels pretty darn good being up there with all the boys. Though it’s my name on top, it takes a team effort to make it happen.” After all, more than 90 drivers have earned points so far this season in the GT Daytona class.
Nielsen and Wittmer drive the No. 007 TRG-AMR Aston Martin V12 Vantage. A second-place finish at the last race, the Continental Tire Road Race Showcase at Road America in Wisconsin, was the third runner-up finish for the team this season.
And while consistency has sent Nielsen into the championship lead, she’d really like a win or two, possibly starting this weekend at the Oak Tree Grand Prix at Virginia International Raceway, since “fast, sweeping turns” like some of those at VIR seem to suit her Aston Martin best.
“Wins are certainly supportive of a championship,” she says, and go a long way toward rewarding current sponsors like Royal Purple, Orion Energy, LaSalle Solutions, PassTime USA and Mellow Mushroom – and attracting more for next season.
And yes, the 23-year-old Danish driver would like to return in 2015. “I’d love to be back with this team next year,” she says, “and I’d really like to come back as the champion.” As far as longer-term goals, Nielsen says she just wants to be able to “earn a living doing what I love the most – racing.”
This weekend’s Oak Tree Grand Prix – named in honor of the massive oak that stood watch over the south end of the 3.27-mile, 17-turn natural road course from the time it opened in 1957 until the tree fell two years ago – features the GT Le Mans and GT Daytona classes in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship, as well as the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge, the Lamborghini Blancpain Super Trofeo Series and the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama.
Round 10 of the TUDOR Championship takes the green flag at 1:05 p.m. ET Sunday. Live coverage on FOX Sports 1 begins at 1 p.m. IMSA.com and the IMSA mobile app will have live streaming, live timing and scoring, and IMSA Radio’s play-by-play.
Steven Cole Smith – IMSA Wire Service
Image: Aston Martin