Petaluma, CA – A pair of top-three finishes helped cap an incredibly strong performance by Danish sportscar standout Christina Nielsen and her teammate, Australian driver James Davison this past weekend at Belle Isle. The duo have been dominant all season long thus far, leading races at Daytona and Laguna, and now finishing on the second step of the podium for the second time this year, as done previously at the historic 12 Hours of Sebring earlier this year. This places Nielsen and Davison firmly in P2 of the IMSA TUDOR GTD Championship hunt, as well as near the top of the standings in the Patron North American Endurance Cup.
The 100-minute IMSA TUDOR race was full of great racing and an exciting ending around the 2.35 mile circuit. With the tight corners and unforgiving concrete barriers, the race saw some some incredible passes, drag-race style showdowns on the straights, and remarkable racing between the three classes and 23 race cars dicing it up on the track. Nielsen and her co-driver James Davison spent much of the race battling it out for hard-earned positions, ultimately finishing a strong P2. The pair lost the chance at victory following a full-course caution near the end of the race in which race control did not allow enough time for the GTD field to regroup during a yellow flag procedure. This oversight unfortunately allowed the #23 Porsche to be essentially handed the win. Christina and James brought the No. 007 Royal Purple/ORION/La Salle/PassTime USA Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3 home in second position, matching their best performance this season at the storied 12 Hours of Sebring earlier this year, but not realizing the full potential of either driver or machine.
Unfortunately, following the completion of the IMSA TUDOR race and during a torrential downpour, TRG-AMR Team Driver James Davison was just crossing the start/finish line when the car started to hydroplane. While this should have been limited to just an unfortunate post-race mishap on the slippery surface, the gravity of the situation increased exponentially when a safety truck responding to an earlier incident in Turn 1 parked itself on the track (only local yellow was used) directly in the path of the oncoming Davison. More than five cars were eventually included in the pile-up at the end of the front straight, with two of the safety workers being taken to medical, one of them seriously injured and later hospitalized. It goes without saying that the team and all of our crew, drivers, partners, sponsors, and fans wish the injured safety worker a healthy and speedy recovery.
TRG-AMR Team Driver Christina Nielsen also brought home a strong P3 finish in Pirelli World Challenge Race #1 on Saturday, after a strong qualifying session the day prior by the Danish sportscar sensation. Having never previously driven this 14-turn temporary street circuit, Nielsen was reliant upon simulator training time along with plenty of video and data analyzation to get her up to speed. The second Pirelli World Challenge race was cancelled due to inclement weather conditions and safety concerns.
TRG-AMR Team Driver Christina Nielsen: “What an incredible weekend, aside from the unfortunate incident following the IMSA race. We did great – the car was perfect, the team was exceptional – we’re now 2nd in the IMSA TUDOR Championship! I’ve been running really well in Pirelli World Challenge, but unfortunately had to start at the back of the grid for this race. This allowed me to work my way through traffic and earn the Hard Charger award for coming from essentially last place all the way up to third! I finished in P3 in Saturday’s race and was really looking forward to Race #2 before it was cancelled [due to inclement weather]. I am headed over to France to participate in the Aston Martin Festival event with the team, then am looking forward to coming home and racing for the rest of the season! Also, my thoughts are with the safety worker injured in turn 1 after the IMSA TUDOR race. Myself, James, and the entire TRG-AMR family wish him a speedy recovery.”
TRG-AMR CEO Kevin Buckler: “This was an interesting weekend to say the least. Christina did a great job of qualifying the IMSA TUDOR car, driving the wheels off the Pirelli World Challenge car and coming home P3 in that race, then driving an awesome first stint and handing the car over to James who brought it home in second place for the IMSA TUDOR race. I couldn’t be more proud of my drivers, crew, and entire team. We unfortunately were denied a chance at victory with only a few minutes left to go in the race. We were running in P2 with the leading car right in front of us and then the overall leader and the safety car split us at the yellow flag – which should be no problem. We were given the pass around by the control tower which allows us to bunch up properly behind the class leader for the restart but for some reason they put the race back to green before we were able to catch the class leader under yellow. So the race was decided right there (by the tower) which is really, really unfortunate. The 2nd incident that occurred immediately after start/finish is obviously a tragedy and I cannot emphasize enough the importance of proper yellow flag and full course caution useage versus a local yellow. Our thoughts are with the injured corner worker and his speedy recovery. Now we’re headed to Le Mans for our participation in the Aston Martin Festival race before the famous 24 Hours of Le Mans. Looking forward to this tremendous event and coming back home to keep our run for the IMSA TUDOR GTD Championship alive!”
Now that May is in the rearview mirror, the team is embarking on one the most complex endeavors in the team’s recent history: moving eight cars, a transporter, equipment, and over 30 personnel to Le Mans, France for the Le Mans Festival Race to support Aston Martin as the featured marque. VIP Hospitality and even driving opportunities are still available. More information on that can be found here.