Legge-Nielsen-Figueiredo finish 4th in Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen
The all-female MSR line-up brought the Acura NSX GT3 to fourth place in a remarkable edition of the Six Hours of Watkins Glen, after spending most of the race in the top three.
Christina Nielsen had her best qualifying run to date behind the wheel of the #57 Caterpillar Acura NSX GT3 on Saturday, as she set the second fastest time of 1:45.295 and brought the Heinricher Racing by MSR entry on the outside of the front row for Sunday's race.
"This is our best qualifying of the year and the best one in my life!" said Nielsen, as the Acuras immediately found pace around the historic Watkins Glen circuit. "We have had momentum with this car all year and to be able to carry that through to produce a great qualifying run is fantastic. I can't thank Heinricher Racing, MSR and Caterpillar enough for having me here."
A former IMSA champion, Nielsen took the race start on Sunday and was immediately able to avoid a first lap incident in the high speed section of turn 4, when the #4 GTLM Corvette was sent into the barriers and was collected by Ben Keating in the #33 Mercedes. Nielsen did a perfect job at avoiding debris and only picked up minor damage to the rear of the #57 Acura.
The Danish lady raced in podium contention before turning the car over to Figueiredo on lap 61. Brazilian Bia Figueiredo pushed hard with fast, consistent lap times and moved the team to the lead on lap 93. Legge took the wheel for the final stint on lap 126 and continued the strong run in the top two.
Legge, the 2017 Sahlen’s Six Hour winner, retook the lead on lap 157 before taking to pit lane on lap 178. A small delay on pit exit translated into a loss of track position in the final segment. After rejoining the race in fifth, Legge regained one position to finish fourth after six hours of hard-fought racing.
GTD victory went to the Acura sister car driven by Trent Hindman, Justin Marks and Mario Farnbacher, who completed a last stint pass for the lead on lap 201.
Legge tried every possible way around the #63 Ferrari of Toni Vilander, but was ultimately unable to make a move for the podium.
"I am slightly disappointed" - commented the British star, "We have great handling and a really strong car but it is a struggle to pass here if you lose track position. The car was a top two car today but we just couldn't get it done. I am looking forward to next weekend and hopefully we can get a better result."
"There is nothing worse than finishing just off the podium." - reiterated Christina Nielsen. "The car was amazing to drive today but we struggled with the usual Watkins Glen horror which is that it is very tough to pass here. Unfortunately, that caught us out when we had the car to fight for a podium position. Hopefully the team will be able to put it all together next weekend in Canada.”
"It was great fun to get back to Watkins Glen. I haven't been here since 2008 in Indy Lights so coming back for IMSA was very fun. My teammates did a great job all weekend!" - added Bia Figueiredo. She will be back in the car next weekend at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, a circuit where she has never raced before. "I did some simulator work and I hope that helps me get up to speed quickly next week!"
Legge-Nielsen now stand seventh in Championship standings.
In Bia's words:
“We could have had a podium today and we will keep working hard to get that result. ”
Ph credits: MSR