Ashley Freiberg in a league of her own in Porsche Sprint Challenge NA
Shift Up Now athlete Ashley Freiberg swept yet another weekend in Porsche Sprint Challenge North America, where she won both races in the 991 class and mingled with the faster 992 cars, also scoring a top-five overall.
Ashley Freiberg's Porsche Sprint Challenge North America's season is seemingly unstoppable, as the Shift Up Now athlete collected two pole positions, two fastest laps and two race victories to sweep the weekend at VIRginia International Raceway.
Freiberg had previously secured two wins at Sebring and two runner-up spots at Barber Motorsports Park, cementing her leadership in the GT3 Cup 991 class points standings.
Her outstanding season therefore continued into the third round, with a dominant performance that resulted in Freiberg having no competition in the 991 class, as she mingled with the faster new generation 992 cars, with lap times not far off the top category.
An extraordinarily talented driver with an important resumé, Freiberg's stars are finally aligning after struggling for several seasons to put together a full-time program amidst budget constraints.
Her recent success is in fact tasting even better - as she is determined to make the most out of the opportunity that finally emerged in the Porsche Sprint Challenge North America series.
"I’m on a mission this season", she wrote on her social media before the VIR weekend. "I’m so grateful to be given the opportunity to be back behind the wheel full-time, I certainly don’t take this for granted and I’m hyper focused on my growth as a driver."
Freiberg's words are the ones of a driver that won't be easy to beat - and she proved that at the very technical VIR International Raceway.
The driver of the #122 MDK Motorsports Porsche started off the weekend with a sixth place overall - and first in class - in the practice session, beating most of the 992 entries in a field of 26 cars. She was back in the overall top 10 - while never giving up the top of the 991 class - also in FP2, before securing a dominant pole position, half a second clear of the closest pursuer in class - the #144 Porsche of Daniel Hanley.
In Saturday's first race, overall pole sitter Zachary Vanier held position at the start, followed by Madeline Stewart - who had a brilliant getaway and leapfrogged Aidan Kenny. While defending second from Kenny, Stewart though made a mistake at turn 1 and slid off track; while she avoided contact with the barriers, she dropped down to 11th overall.
Ashley Freiberg had a clean start and held first place in class as well as seventh overall.
Once again, Freiberg's pace was unreachable for anyone in the 991 class, as she chased the 992 cars. Gregory Schermer went off at turn 5 on lap 7, triggering a FCY. The green flag was back in the air with 15 minutes left on the clock; Vanier led Kenny, Horstman and the rest of the pack into turn 1, but another Full Course Yellow was soon deployed following another contact.
In the final 6 minutes, Ashley Freiberg had a spectacular restart and moved up to fifth overall - in a dominant performance. Madeline Stewart also gained a few spots but couldn't go higher than 8th; Zachary Vanier took the 992 ProAm win - but the star of the show was undoubtedly Ashley Freiberg in fifth overall, on a league of her own in 991.
"Finished 5th overall amongst the 992 cars (the newer generation cars- quite a bit faster than mine!) I’m so stoked with the progress we are making in the car and the progress I’m making with my driving." - she wrote. "Can’t wait to continue growing and perfecting my driving, there’s always more to be gained."
In slightly cooler conditions, Zachary Vanier lined up in overall pole position for Sunday's race - as the driver of the #206 Porsche 992 GT3 Cup was just as impressive as 991 pole sitter Ashley Freiberg, seventh overall. At lights out, Vanier and Kenny fought for the lead at turn 1, while Horstmann kept third from Stewart. A few contacts at turn 4 and turn 5 resulted in four cars going off track, but the race remained green. Freiberg held seventh overall as well as the 991 lead, but a great start by Daniel Hanley brought the closer pursuer in the 991 class just behind the #122 Shift Up Now-sponsored Porsche. Over a second faster, though, Freiberg soon opened a gap and continued to keep up with the 992 class ahead. Freiberg was the only 991 entry to lap under the 1:50 mark, which eventually opened a big margin to Tim Kezman, the second placed car in class after Hanley spun. Freiberg remained close to the 992 Porsche of Steve Dunn throughout the race, over 20 seconds up the road from the Kezman. A full course yellow was deployed with one minute to go, when Hodneland and Womack went off; Freiberg moved up to sixth overall after Hodneland - who had been battling with Stewart - dropped down. Zachary Vanier took a lights-to-flag win in 992 - his second of the weekend - just like Ashley Freiberg, who swept the weekend in 991, in yet another commanding race for the 31 year old talent. Ashley extended her lead in the points' standings, as she now tops the tally with 297 points, 19 points clear of Tim Kezman and 24 points ahead of Scott Zdanis. The next round of the Porsche Sprint Challenge North America season will take place at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on June 30th.