Christina Nielsen conquers Suzuka 10H
GT ace Christina Nielsen claimed class victory in the Suzuka 10 Hours in the Strakka Racing Mercedes entry.
Coming from a podium finish in Spa Francorchamps, one of the toughest races in GT racing and held in dreadful weather conditions, Christina Nielsen returned at the wheel of the Strakka Racing Mercedes AMG GT3 this past weekend in Japan for another challenging endurance race: the 10 Hours of Suzuka.
With Strakka Racing's positive record at the Suzuka circuit, hopes were high at the eve of the event: “I’ve raced at Suzuka in the Asian Blancpain Series, but I understand the particular challenges of the Suzuka 10 Hours are the heat and tyre degradation, although the Mercedes-AMG is normally good on tyres, especially towards the end, so I’m hoping we can take advantage of that." - commented the Danish racer.
"I really enjoyed the last race with Strakka at Spa. The team did a great job and it was nice to finish on the podium. In endurance racing, you want to first finish, and Strakka showed that they handled challenges really well and that I’m in good hands. I’m arriving with a bit of experience of the track so hopefully we’ll be in good shape.”
Starting from fourth in the Pro-Am grid, the #43 trio of Christina Nielsen, Dominik Baumann and Adrian Henry D'Silva immediately started to move up the field with Nielsen at the wheel, as she kept running steadily in 3rd position.
After six and a half hours of racing, the Strakka squad moved up into second position and, when Domink Baumann took the wheel of the Mercedes AMG, they further climbed the order to take class lead and 20th overall position, with under 3 hours left on the clock.
From then on, it was an untroubled finish for Baumann, as he crossed the line victorious in the scenic Japanese night.
Audi Sport Team WRT claimed the overall win in Suzuka, with the dominant trio composed of Kelvin van der Linde, Dries Vanthoor and Frederic Vervisch leading 75% of the race distance.
“I’m really happy with this outcome" - said a very pleased Nielsen. "It was challenging for everyone because it rained so much in the practice sessions it limited the preparations we had but luckily Strakka did a great job last year so we had a good reference point to begin with and it worked out well."
"They gave us a great car, Adrian and Dominik drove solid and there were no major mistakes and that’s what put us in contention for the victory and is the key to a good endurance race. A huge thank you to the team and to my co-drivers; together we created a great result.”
The 27-year old from Denmark is a three-time Le Mans starter and double IMSA champion, the first woman to ever win the prestigious series title. She is currently combining an IMSA programme with the Intercontinental GT Challenge and the GT World Challenge Asia.
In Christina's words:
"There were no major mistakes and that’s what put us in contention for the victory and is the key to a good endurance race."
Ph credits: Strakka Racing