Christina Nielsen scores podium finish at 24 hours of Spa
Strakka Racing's driver Christina Nielsen finished the 24 hours of Spa on the podium under extreme weather conditions.
An impressive field of 72 cars and almost 250 drivers took part last weekend in the famous 24 Hours of Spa Francorchamps, an event that many drivers described as being held at the toughest conditions of their careers.
Christina Nielsen took part in the biggest GT race in the world behind the wheel of a Mercedes-AMG GT3 ran by established British team Strakka Racing and was joined in the #43 car line-up by Richard Heistand, Jack Hawksworth and David Fumanelli.
“Spa is one of the biggest races of the year a driver can do. The track is legendary and a favourite amongst many. Everyone knows that the competition is insane and it’s 24 hours of that, so without a doubt it’s going to be intense." - said the Danish driver before the event, as she had not been racing at Spa for a couple of years.
The pre-race sessions were defined by temperatures over 40°C, while from Saturday the drivers had to endure the most challenging and chaotic conditions, with torrential rain affecting the race during the night.
Starting from the 5th position in the Pro-Am class, Nielsen and the #43 crew drove a solid race and stayed out of trouble when the track was barely drivable.
Tyre strategy proved to be crucial, as wet and dry conditions alternated in the first half of the race, which was also interrupted by several lenghty Full-Course Yellow periods.
Running steadily in the top 3, Nielsen drove through the Belgian night until the race was red flagged for six hours, as the race direction waited for the rain to ease.
When the race resumed at 11:15 in the morning, the 27-year old lady pushed hard before handing the wheel to David Fumanelli.
The team, despite two late Drive Through penalties, was able to cross the finish line to take the third place in GT-AM class and the second consecutive podium finish for Strakka Racing at the Total 24 Hours of Spa.
“I think this shows the truth of the fact that to finish at the front you first need to finish. It’s the Spa 24 and anything can happen and it’s about crossing that line at the end." - said Christina Nielsen. "We went up and down, it definitely wasn’t perfect but this was my first time and it’s really nice to finish on the podium. I’m really grateful for the team effort that Strakka Racing put into it, they did a mega job and kept pushing right until the end."
"It’s not a matter of running into issues, it’s a matter of how you handle them and the team handled it very well. Thank you to my team-mates, I’m really grateful for all the work that was put in by everyone.”
Nielsen, a veteran of endurance and GT racing with three 24 Hours of Le Mans starts and two IMSA Sportscar championship titles under her belt, is having a busy 2019 schedule, combining her American program in IMSA with the Asian GT calendar.
This weekend she will head to Yeongam, Korea, for the fifth round of the Blancpain Asian GT World Challenge, where she finished already twice on the podium this season.
In Christina's words:
"It’s not a matter of running into issues, it’s a matter of how you handle them and the team handled it very well"
Ph credits: Hendrik Attema / @attematic