Christina Nielsen collects GTD podium at Long Beach

Competing at the scenic Grand Prix of Long Beach, located on the downtown city streets just miles away from her Los Angeles home, Christina Nielsen and her Scuderia Corsa team would take a remarkable third place finish during yesterday’s race, improving eight positions in a 100-minute event. This would serve as the second consecutive podium in the 2017 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season, advancing the defending series champion five positions to currently sit second in the standings.

“I can’t take any credit for today,” stated Nielsen. “This credit goes entirely to Scuderia Corsa and Alessandro Balzan, they were totally my heroes today. How they executed, it’s just unbelievable what they did. They keep creating magic, every time I would think ‘you can’t do this,’ they make it happen. They kept telling me I was running lap times as fast as the leaders, but you just can’t pass. Huge props to Alessandro and the Scuderia Corsa guys, that was just badass.”

Driving the No. 63 Ferrari 488 GT3, the first time for the venerable machine on the famed street circuit, the day was off to a daunting start knowing that they would start the race in the 11th position. As the shortest race of the year, 100 minutes, the tricky 1.9-mile circuit that is literally formed around the downtown city streets is notorious for a lack of passing opportunities. Knowing they had very little time to gain ground, the challenge of working their way up the field was set.

As the green flag fell, Nielsen would take on starting duties, wasting no time as she gained two spots before settling in to a rhythm to carry out her stint. Finding an immediate pace that matched the leaders, Nielsen’s lap-times would match the leaders throughout her run, ultimately setting the fastest lap of the opening stint. With passing nearly impossible, however, all focus would shift to preserving the car and focusing on strategy and quick pit work to jump ahead of the competition.

As the opening round of pit stops cycled through, the team would pit Christina with just under one hour to go, having advanced several positions and threatening for a top-five. Once again proving that this is a team sport, an excellent stop by the Scuderia Corsa crew would gain two more places, with teammate Alessandro Balzan now driving to the finish and sitting in fourth place.

For the final 50 minutes, Balzan would enjoy a remarkable drive, hunting down the final podium position for much of his stint, engaged in an endless wheel-to-wheel battle on a track known for impossible passing. As the stint wore on and tire management would become more prevalent, the experience of Alessandro and team showed through, making an incredible pass in the difficult Turn Nine with five minutes remaining, making light contact in the process but ultimately pulling the move off. Balzan would nurse the car home for the final laps, podium in hand.

Now second in the standings, Nielsen and team know the focus for the “sprint” season must move to continued results and no mistakes.

Unofficially we should be second in the championship and that is a great feeling,” stated Nielsen. “The level of competition here is incredibly tough, and after having a mechanical issue at the first race we began the year a little behind. Today was another testament to my team and teammate, as it’s proof that you can’t ever stop focusing on the field ahead of you to maximize every point. Our next race at Circuit of the Americas is one we all look forward to. We had a great car last year and hopefully we can carry our current momentum through.”

The fifth round of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship will take place in one month’s time, headed to the famed Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas. Practice will take place on Friday, May 4, with the race taking place on Sunday, May 6.

Christina Nielsen Press Release