Christina Nielsen finally managed to find a seat in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship 2019.
The 26 year-old Dane will be doing the 24-hour race at Daytona for Meyer Shank Racing in the Heinricher Racing Acura #57 in the GTD category.
That is a bit of a special car, since it consists only of female drivers. Katherine Legge, Ana Beatriz, Simona De Silvestro are the three other drivers on the car.
The place at MSR only came because Jackie Heinricher, who was originally slated to be the fourth driver in the car, damaged her back, so she can’t participate in the 24-hour race. Therefore the seat for Christina is so far only for the Daytona race, while the rest of the season is still uncertain.
Katherine Legge and Jackie Heinricher were originally slated to do the full GTD season by themselves, while Beatriz and De Silvestro would be the extra drivers at Daytona. In today’s press release from the MSR team, they report that Heinricher will jump back in the car when she is ready at some point in the future – but let’s see what the future brings.
Christina Nielsen took the title as the first female Champion in IMSA back in 2016, when she drove for Scuderia Corsa in their Ferrari, while she defended the title in 2017. She won the title on both occasions with Alessandro Balzan as a teammate.
She spent her 2018 season at Wright Motorsports in their Porsche, but that collaboration didn’t extend into 2019. That decision came very late, when all the other good seats in the IMSA series were already filled at that point, so there has been some doubt around Christina Nielsen and her programme in 2019, and if she would be driving in the series at all. But it would be a shame for the series, if a double Champion can’t find a full season ride.
There are still an open seat in the car at the Michelin Endurance Cup rounds at Sebring, Watkins Glen and Road America, and it’s not yet revealed if Ana Beatriz, Simona De Silvestro or Christina Nielsen will be the third driver at those rounds.
Heinricher brings the money to the team, and has secured a marketing deal with Caterpillar, but if she puts on her marketing hat, it will be better to be the first car to win the Championship with female drivers only – in plural. If Heinricher jumps back into the car for the remainder of the season, only Legge would be able to potentially win an overall Championship.
But all that of course needs a good finishing position at the 57th edition of the Rolex 24 at Daytona, which will be run on 26-27 January.