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Ashley Freiberg returns to victory in Porsche Sprint Challenge NA with COTA masterclass

Shift Up Now athlete Ashley Freiberg returned to the top step of the podium in the 991 class of Porsche Sprint Challenge North America by sweeping the weekend at COTA, penultimate round of the season that marks her full-time return to racing.


Ashley Freiberg, Porsche Sprint Challenge North America, COTA
Photo credits: Porsche Sprint Challenge North America

Shift Up Now athlete Ashley Freiberg returned to the top step of the podium in the 991 class of Porsche Sprint Challenge North America by sweeping the weekend at COTA, penultimate round of the season that marks her full-time return to racing.


Her 2023 campaign has in fact been nothing short of impressive, with five race victories and three second place finishes in the first eight races of the season. A clean sweep at Sebring in her return to sports car racing - after several years out of a full time program - was followed by two runner up places at Barber Motorsports Park, two more wins at the challenging VIRginia International Raceway and a further victory at Mid-Ohio clearly showcased Freiberg's talent. When provided with a chance to race in quality equipment - thanks to Shift Up Now's invaluable support and the MDK Motorsports expertise - Freiberg kept delivering.


Two weeks before, Ashley was again the protagonist of a spectacular weekend at Road America, where she collected a second place in race 1 and was on course to secure her sixth win of the season after a great pass in the closing stages of race 2 - before a post race penalty for a pass under yellow on a lapped Cayman car dropped her to tenth.


Despite retaining the 991 class championship lead, Freiberg was determined to return to the top step of the podium at Circuit of the Americas - and she did so with a dominant showing in the biggest grid to date, that included also the Porsche Sprint Challenge USA West Championship entries.


The high temperatures also proved to be an additional challenge, as qualifying became crucial due to the tire wear as well as traffic. Ashley therefore focused on a qualifying setup in the practice sessions, with the top five separated by tenths of a second.

Freiberg showed her speed in qualifying on Saturday morning, when her 2:11.442 effort was two tenths faster than the closest 991 NA competitor and gained her class pole position, just behind USA West driver Casey Dennis in the overall classification.


At the race start, Freiberg had a good start but received contact from another car at the notoriously tricky first corner. Ashley corrected but kept it on track and, while Dennis had opened a small gap, she retained second overall and the class lead among the North American entries.


Freiberg, though, was not content with only the class lead and put Casey Dennis in her target. The Shift Up Now driver increased her pressure, although the action was temporarily halted by a full course yellow on lap 4, when the #6 Porsche Cayman of Nathaniel Martin had to be retrieved after a contact.

At the restart, Freiberg was right in her rival's mirrors and, after a great exit out of the final corner on lap 9, she forced Dennis to a small mistake at turn 1, seizing the opportunity to fire into the overall lead.


Once ahead, Ashley never looked back and pulled away at the pace of over a second per lap faster. After a masterful first race, Ashley Freiberg returned to victory with a flawless performance, claiming both overall and class top honours by 8 seconds.


Ashley Freiberg, Porsche Sprint Challenge North America, COTA
Photo credits: Porsche Sprint Challenge North America

Sunday morning's race saw Freiberg starting from third overall and second in the 991 NA class, in a grid shaped by the fastest times from the previous race.

Casey Dennis had another clean start and preceded Daniel Hanley and Ashley Freiberg through turn 1, surviving a hectic first.

Five minutes into the race, the 991 entry of Gregory Schermer went off and brought out the Full Course Yellow.


The green flag waved again with 21 minutes left on the clock and Freiberg was on a mission to pass Hanley for the 991 NA class lead. Having studied her rival, she ultimately made a move stick on lap 8, when she completed a great pass into turn 9.

From there, Ashley had already her eyes set on the overall lead, as Dennis had checked out taking advantage from the battle for second.


The 991 championship leader was again in a league of her own and her race pace allowed her to gain two seconds to Casey Dennis over the following laps. A small mistake by the latter meant that Freiberg was at striking distance when the white flag signalled the final lap of the race: an attempt at turn 1 went unrewarded, as Dennis defended well.


An epic battle followed, as the leading duo ran side-by-side for most of the final lap, trading the inside line at every corner. In the final sector, Freiberg crucially took the lead at the long right-hander turn 16, crossing the finish line with another double overall victory.


“What a weekend,” Freiberg commented. “Leaving this weekend with two wins means so much more than the trophies. Personally, I’ve been fighting a sickness and the heat was so extreme, and my crew was also fighting a sickness in this heat that was really putting us to the test."


“After Road America, we put our heads down and put in the work, cutting out all distractions, working together as a team, and it all came together right at the end", she continued. "I really can’t say enough about the tenacity, hard-working nature, and support of the entire MDK Motorsports crew, the support from my sponsors, Yokohama Tire, Shift Up Now, Bell Helmets, Trak Racer, my friends, family, and my husband. Looking forward to the last round of the Porsche Sprint Challenge season at Indy in October!”


Freiberg extended her championship lead in the 991 category with her third clean sweep of the season and now enjoys a 60 point gap over second-placed McInnes with one round to go. The season finale of the 2023 Porsche Sprint Challenge North America is scheduled for October 6-8, at the home of North American motorsport: Indianapolis Motor Speedway.


Ashley Freiberg, Porsche Sprint Challenge North America, COTA
Photo credits: Porsche Sprint Challenge North America

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