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Ashley Freiberg takes first Porsche Sprint Challenge NA win in 992 class

Shift Up Now athlete Ashley Freiberg took a breakthrough victory in Porsche Sprint Challenge North America - her first in the 992 GT3 class - bouncing back from technical issues earlier in the weekend at Circuit of the Americas, in yet another milestone in her remarkable career.

Ashley Freiberg, MDK Motorsport, Porsche Sprint Challenge North America, Porsche 911 GT3 Cup 992, 2024 COTA
Photo credits: Kyle Schwab / Porsche North America

Shift Up Now athlete Ashley Freiberg took a breakthrough victory in Porsche Sprint Challenge North America - her first in the 992 GT3 class - at Circuit of the Americas, which hosted the third round of the 2024 season. The reigning 991 class champion, in her first season of competitions with the new gen Porsche 992 GT3 Cup machine, now sits third in the overall standings.

Freiberg had a remarkable debut season in Porsche Sprint Challenge North America in 2023 and claimed the title in the 991 class after winning 7 and 5 other podiums out of 14 races, on her full time return to racing. Despite limited testing in pre-season, Freiberg then made the step up to 992 machinery, returning to MDK Motorsports with a late deal at Sebring International Raceway. And she proved to belong to the competitive elite as she immediately scored a best finish of second on her first race.

Ashley then returned to the podium at the second round of the season, with another strong weekend at Barber Motorsports Park. In a tightly contested 992 class, Frieberg qualified third before finishing fourth in race one and third in race two.

At Circuit of the Americas, she therefore aimed to continue her superb start of the season with yet another step forward - and she did so with a spectacular first race that saw the driver of the #222 Mobil 1 sponsored machine battling for the win with class rivals Jared Thomas and Paul Bocuse.

But the Austin race meeting was definitely not all plain sailing for Freiberg. An issue in practice limited her track time and left her only eighth fastest after the first day of driving, 1.7 seconds off pace setter Thomas. The team worked tirelessly to find the issue and the #222 car was completely taken apart, with many parts being replaced in a mission to solve the technical gremlins.

And the effort did not go unrewarded: despite the limited running, Freiberg was as impressive as ever and qualified in second place, having found almost two full seconds and clocking a 2:08.942. She would line up on the front row, alongside MDK Motorsports teammate Paul Bocuse for the first race of the weekend.

Ashley Freiberg, MDK Motorsport, Porsche Sprint Challenge North America, Porsche 911 GT3 Cup 992, 2024 COTA
Photo credits: Kyle Schwab / Porsche North America

Bocuse had a good start but it would be Jared Thomas to snatch the top spot at turn 1 with a stellar manoeuvre from third. Ashley Freiberg committed to the outside line, going around Bocuse at turn 1 and following Thomas closely. The top two immediately drove away over the first lap and Ashley started to put pressure on the JTR Motorsports Engineering driver, just one tenth of a second ahead as they crossed the line for the first lap of the race.

Freiberg and Thomas were the only drivers to run on the 2:10 pace, although the race leader managed to put a few tenths in between them and, by lap 4, he had opened a small gap. Bocuse, meanwhile, was trying to come back in the mix and closed back in on Freiberg. The battle for third overall was also rather heated, with Anthony McIntosh having to endure the pressure from both Therese Lahlouh and David Musial. The three traded positions, but Lahlouh successfully held fifth - although she would later receive a 3 second track limit penalty.

Freiberg continued to consistently lap in the 2m10 pace and kept Bocuse at bay, despite both improving their personal best laps. Ashley set purple sectors - but couldn't quite pull away from Bocuse behind - although both slightly reduced the gap to Thomas.

On lap 11, Freiberg had stretched her legs and gained over one second to Thomas; the leader made a small mistake in the esses and the Shift Up Now athlete was now suddenly back in the game: Thomas was heavily under pressure and another mistake gave Freiberg the opportunity to make a move: it was exactly what the driver of the #222 MDK Motorsports Porsche was waiting for and made a move stick, although Thomas soon swapped back.

With seven minutes to go, the leading trio was covered by six tenths of a second and, after another great run towards turn 12, she outbraked Jared Thomas, taking the lead with a determined move. Thomas could do nothing to fight back this time and Freiberg took the lead for the first time ever in the 992 class.

With Thomas also under pressure from Bocuse, Ashley set a personal best in 2:10.605 on lap 15 and slightly pulled away. With one lap to go, she was in complete control and crossed the finish line to take her first race win in a 992 GT3 Cup car, 2.4 seconds ahead of Thomas and Bocuse after a fantastic performance.

"Speechless," she commented after the race, which represented yet another milestone in a remarkable career made of big battles to secure enough funding.

"We won today’s race here at COTA. We worked so, so hard for this", she continued. "I just can’t thank everyone enough for the endless support behind the scenes, MDK Motorsports, my sponsors, my crew, my friends and family, and Enzo [her dog]. So grateful for this wild ride of a life."

Ashley Freiberg, MDK Motorsport, Porsche Sprint Challenge North America, Porsche 911 GT3 Cup 992, 2024 COTA
Photo credits: Kyle Schwab / Porsche North America

In the second sprint race of the weekend, Freiberg would have to make her way up from third place, based on the fastest lap classification from Saturday's race. Paul Bocuse and Jared Thomas sharing the front row.

Sadly, her hopes shattered on the formation lap, as her MDK Motorsports Porsche 992 broke down on the back straight on her way to the grid. The race got underway under yellow and, when the green flag flew with 28 minutes to go, Thomas once again grabbed the lead from Bocuse at turn 1. They spent the entire race challenging each other but a late caution halted the battle just as they had started to trade positions; Jared Thomas therefore took back to back victories, and preceded Bocuse and Musial.

With a win, a second and a third place in addition to two fourth place finishes over the first three double-headers of the Porsche Sprint Challenge North America's season, Ashley Freiberg collected important points and now sits third in the overall championship standings, 90 points behind the leader.

Freiberg was then supposed to take part in the first ever round of the Porsche Endurance Challenge, sharing a Porsche 992 GT3 Cup car with Porsche Sprint Challenge West division Am class podium finisher Laura Ely. A strong qualifying saw the duo qualifying seventh fastest in the combined time - but an accident in Ely's solo race meant that the car was unable to be ready for the endurance contest.

"Some days at the track are tougher than others" - Freiberg wrote. "I didn’t get to take the green flag in race 2 due to a mechanical issue, and unfortunately Laura Ely and I pulled out of the endurance race due to some car damage sustained from Laura’s race earlier in the day", she explained. "Unfortunately this is a part of the sport, but it is also what makes those wins and podiums so sweet. We will be back"

Aiming to carry momentum in the 992 GT3 class of the Porsche Sprint Challenge North America championship, Ashley Freiberg will be back behind the wheel at Virginia International Raceway for the fourth round on the weekend of June 15th/16th. 



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