Racing in front of her home crowd as the reigning series champion, Christina Nielsen will take to the wheel during Saturday’s Bubba Burger Sports Car Grand Prix, the day’s marquis event during the Grand Prix of Long Beach, looking to impress in front of her home crowd. Though a native of Denmark, Nielsen currently resides in Los Angeles, opting to be as close as possible to her team, Los Angeles-based Scuderia Corsa.
“I raced at Long Beach for the first time two years ago in a different car, and I don’t believe the Ferrari 488 GT3 has raced there yet so it’s going to be interesting to see how it goes,” stated Nielsen. “We had a good car at Detroit last year which is also a street circuit, so we just have to work with what we have. It’s a super-cool event and a super-cool track, we’ll be running on the same weekend as IndyCar, and I’m looking forward to being back after our podium finish at Sebring. It’s sort of the home race for the team, they’re doing a good job, and it’s definitely a race where qualifying and pit stops are going to be really crucial since it’s hard to overtake on street circuits. It’s only a 100-minute race, but hopefully we can start from scratch, find a good setup, I’m sure the team will nail it during the pit stops, and that will result in a great run.”
While Nielsen previously competed at Long Beach in a different car and series in 2015, this weekend’s event will mark both the first race for the Ferrari 488 GT3 at Long Beach, as well as the first-time for the IMSA WeatherTech Championship’s GTD category, comprised entirely of GT3-specification racing machines that includes manufacturers such as Ferrari, Porsche, Audi, BMW, Mercedes-AMG, and Lamborghini.
The 1.9-mile, 11-turn circuit is one of the most unique in the championship, serving as the first temporary street circuit of the year. While most tracks are considered permanent road courses; purpose-built tracks located in fixed locations, the event at Long Beach is literally comprised of the city’s downtown streets, with a series of barriers and tire walls laying out the configuration. As a result, the course is one of the most unforgiving of the season, with the slightest error resulting in contact with the wall.
Additionally, Saturday’s race will mark the shortest of the season at one-hour, forty minutes. Sharing the event weekend with the Verizon IndyCar series, both the race and practice session will be shorter than usual due to a packed on-track schedule, putting a premium on preparation.
Sharing duties with co-driver Alessandro Balzan and Matteo Cressoni, the trio most recently finished second at the the famed 12 Hours of Sebring, literally racing 12 hours straight en route to their first podium of the year. At Long Beach, the short nature of the race will mark the beginning of the “sprint season,” where Nielsen and full-season co-driver Alessandro Balzan will primarily compete in races under three hours. This will place a premium on outright pace and making the most of your car.
“It’s tricky because a 100-minute race means there’s no time to waste when gaining position,” continued Nielsen. “You have to maximize every opportunity, especially since we have very little practice time compared to our normal race weekends. What makes this especially difficult is being a street course, mistakes can create very big problems. There’s walls on all sides of the course, so the slightest error can mean big damage, and we don’t have enough time to make up for that. Luckily we have a team that is excellent and preparing and strategizing, and both Alessandro and I understand the balance between opportunity and risk.”
Practice for the event begins this Friday, April 7, with the race taking place on Saturday, April 8. Same-day television coverage can be found on FOX at 4PM ET.
Christina Nielsen Press Release