Ashley Freiberg started P8, capitalized on an early circus moment in front of her and then made a clean pass late to finish P2 in race one of the IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge by Yokohama at the American Le Mans Monterey presented by Patrón race at Laguna Seca Friday.
The finish put Freiberg, in her first season of sports car racing ever, into the lead for her division's points championship.
Update: Ashley finished P5 in the second race, and left Monterey tied with Madison Snow for the lead in the points championship.
News release ...
ASHLEY FREIBERG LEADS POINTS STANDINGS IN IMSA GT3 Challenge
Freiberg Uses Two Top-Five Finishes To Secure Championship Lead
MONTEREY, CA (May 13, 2013) -IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge by Yokohama's lone female driver Ashley Freiberg inherited the Series' points lead after securing her first podium of the year after Race #1 at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca this past weekend. Freiberg finished fifth in Race #2 after holding on to the third position until Angel Benitez passed her on Lap 24 and teammate Michael Mills taking her in the final lap.
"I was super happy about the first race result," said Freiberg. "It's my first podium of the year and it put me in the lead of the championship points. My team, EFFORT, also walked away from the weekend with the team championship points lead which is awesome. The guys have worked so hard for that! Overall, I am quite happy with the weekend. Obviously a very exciting day on Friday finishing in second on the podium and taking the overall points lead, but I know it will be work to keep us in that spot. I have to give a big thank you to my guys at EFFORT Racing, TrueCar, Bell Helmets, and my coach Mike Zimicki, for making this weekend the success it turned out to be. We will be at the top of that podium. I've got my eyes on it!"
While Freiberg left the weekend leading the series point's championship, her weekend started off with her struggling with her Porsche GT3's set-up.
"Practice started out a little bit rough as I was still learning this car on this track," said Freiberg. "We worked pretty hard to figure out how to make the car better and make myself faster. We made some pretty big changes to it over night before qualifying, and it was a much better car the next morning."
In qualifying, Freiberg caught traffic just in time to qualify her eighth of the 24 cars.
"It was super frustrating," said Freiberg. "I knew I could've been much further up, but I also knew that for the race I had the speed and the car underneath me to make up spots."
Taking the outside line around the brake zone of the first turn of Race #1, Freiberg was able to pass several cars before coming around the corner to a huge dust cloud.
"I suddenly found myself in the middle of cars flying everywhere, and sight of a tiny window to make it through the carnage," Freiberg continued. "I went hard to the throttle as I saw my door closing with one of the cars sliding across the track, and the next thing I knew, I came out of it all and was in third."
After a long caution, the race went back to green and Freiberg made a pass in Turn 6 with 10 minutes to go for second. Madison Snow, who was leading, had too much of a gap for Freiberg to close in for firstplace.
After holding the third spot in Race #2 for most of the race with a big margin behind her, Freiberg found herself in a time of caution when her car handling and tires were falling off. Benitez passed her on the restart on Lap 24 and teammate Mills got her on the last lap.
"It was definitely not the result I was hoping for in Race #2, but luckily I still have the points lead which is now tied with Snow.
As Freiberg, of Bondville, VT, looks onto Watkins Glen International for the Sahlen's 6 hours of the Glen, she's also looking behind her at the 23 male pilots who trail her in Series' points. The 21-year-old and her EFFORT Racing Porsche GT3 Cup car sit alongside Madison Snow with the points lead, as Freiberg keeps inching closer to making history.
Action at "The Glen" gets underway on Thurs., June 27 at 1:35 p.m. EDT for the first official test session. Qualifications are set for Fri., June 28 at 3:35 p.m. EDT with the race to be contested on Sat., June 29 at 1:00 p.m. EDT and Race #2 on Sun., June 30 at 9:00 a.m. EDT.
In addition to EFFORT Racing, Freiberg's racing efforts are also supported by: TRUECAR and Bell Helmets.