Christina Nielsen, Ashley Freiberg go 1-2 in GTD at Sebring

Photo courtesy of IMSA

SEBRING, Fla. – The biggest compliment you might offer Christina Nielsen and Ashley Freiberg, two rising talents in the world of sports car racing, is to simply call them racing drivers rather than female racing drivers.

Nielsen and Freiberg banked a 1-2 finish in Saturday’s Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh from Florida in the highly competitive GT Daytona class of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, but in doing so they were key cogs in the respective lineups.

Nielsen, who scored five podiums including four runner-up finishes driving with TRG-AMR last year, switched to the Scuderia Corsa team for this year.

With the Giacomo Mattioli-owned squad that also features the leadership of racing veterans Stefan Johansson and Eric Bachelart, along with technical director Roberto Amorosi, Nielsen drove with Jeff Segal and Alessandro Balzan to capture the inaugural win for the new Ferrari 488 GT3 in its worldwide debut.

Nielsen, who’s also secured one class win and additional podium finishes in Pirelli World Challenge and podiums in the IMSA Porsche GT3 Cup USA Challenge by Yokohama in the last few years, made it clear today’s result was a big one.

“With two females on the podium today, it’s a step in the right direction,” she said post-race. “I love competing against everyone. And I hate hearing only, ‘Gentlemen, raise your trophies.’

“I think it’s cool there’s two of us on the podium today. And it’s, ‘Ladies and gentlemen, raise your trophies!’

“When I raced in Porsche Cup, they changed it to, drivers start your engines. So, progress!”

The 24-year-old Dane finished second in last year’s GTD points standings, incidentally, behind what was then Scuderia Corsa’s lineup of NBCSN IndyCar analyst Townsend Bell and Bill Sweedler.

“It feels great. It’s what we’ve been waiting for,” she said. “I had amazing co drivers last year too (James Davison and Brandon Davis), but having accomplished it now, it is absolutely amazing.

“Sebring, it’s a unique event. Its probably my favorite besides Petit Le Mans.

“I thought around midway we might end up not finishing the race. But it really gave me some strength to believe in the team even more. It was not easy to make the decision for 2016, but the win today made it secure we made the right choice, and now we’re in a good path for the championship.”

She is the first female winner at Sebring since Liz Halliday won the LMP2 class in 2006.

Freiberg, who is a past winner in Porsche GT3 Cup and has also won twice in the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge, secured her first career podium in the WeatherTech Championship co-driving the No. 96 Turner Motorsport BMW M6 GT3 with Jens Klingmann and Bret Curtis.

“I never would have thought we’d finish second today,” Freiberg, also 24, told NBC Sports post race. “Considering we’re down a bit in straight line speed, and also, we needed the last caution to make it on fuel. Once we got that we were good to go.”

Freiberg will have a busy year on tap, with a switch to the Prototype Challenge class at the next round of the championship in Long Beach with Starworks Motorsport and new co-driver Mark Kvamme. She’ll have one test at Road Atlanta prior to the race.

SuperMotocross set to introduce Leader Lights beginning with the World Championship finals


In a continuing effort to help fans keep track of the on track action, SuperMotocross is in the process of developing and implementing leader lights for the unified series.

Currently Supercross (SMX) utilizes stanchions in the infield that are triggered manually by a race official. At least two stanchions are used in each race as a way to draw the eye to the leader, which is especially useful in the tight confines of the stadium series when lapping often begins before the halfway mark in the 22-bike field. This system has been in place for the past two decades.

Later this year, a fully automated system will move to the bike itself to replace the old system. At that point, fans will be able to identify the leader regardless of where he is on track.

The leader lights were tested in the second Anaheim round this year. An example can be seen at the 1:45 mark in the video above on the No. 69 bike.

“What we don’t want to do is move too fast, where it’s confusing to people,” said Mike Muye, senior director of operations for Supercross and SMX in a press release. “We’ve really just focused on the leader at this point with the thought that maybe down the road we’ll introduce others.”

Scheduled to debut with the first SuperMotocross World Championship race at zMax Dragway, located just outside the Charlotte Motor Speedway, a 3D carbon fiber-printed LED light will be affixed to each motorcycle. Ten timing loops positioned around the track will trigger the lights of the leader, which will turn green.

SMX’s partner LiveTime Scoring helped develop and implement the system that has been tested in some form or fashion since 2019.

When the leader lights are successfully deployed, SuperMotocross will explore expanding the system to identify the second- and third-place riders. Depending on need and fan acceptance, more positions could be added.

SuperMotocross is exploring future enhancements, including allowing for live fan interaction with the lights and ways to use the lighting system during the race’s opening ceremony.