Nielsen, Balzan score fifth podium
Christina Nielsen and Alessandro Balzan gave a big boost to their GT-Daytona championship hopes with a third-place finish on Sunday afternoon at Road America. On a track where they expected to struggle due to a straight-line disadvantage, Nielsen pulled off a remarkable qualifying effort of fifth place before she and Balzan drove to third place by the time the checkered flag fell. On a late-race restart, Balzan had the no. 63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 488 GT3 in fifth position and took advantage of two opportunities to drive onto the podium.
This was the fifth IMSA podium of the season for Scuderia Corsa, after victories at Sebring and Watkins Glen, a second-place at Laguna Seca and a third place at Detroit.
We relied on Scuderia Corsa’s team effort today – said Nielsen – It was amazing what the guys did in the pit and I can’t describe how lucky I feel to be with guys who are so supportive. They were on it – they brought their A-game this weekend. It was tough with the top speed, but the team set up the car really well. This is a dream season – two wins, a second place and two thirds. I couldn’t be happier, honestly.
We had a really fantastic result today – said Balzan – I didn’t think we had a car for the podium. But thanks to the great work by the guys in the pits, and Christina also did a great job and gave me the Ferrari in very good shape, we were in a great position to finish in fifth position. And then we got a little bit lucky with some of the other cars going off and we were able to move up and get the podium after a very crazy last few laps. It’s a really great day for Scuderia Corsa.
Not only did Nielsen and Balzan finish on the podium for the fifth time this season, but they finished ahead of their closest championship pursuers to grow their championship lead to 15 points.
We came in this weekend knowing that it was going to be a challenging race track due to the limitation of the top speed of the Ferrari based on the current Balance of Performance – said Giacomo Mattioli, Scuderia Corsa team owner – However, the team and drivers executed perfectly, giving us a very good starting position and a podium result. This allowed us to gain two more points as we are getting to the final stretch of the last three races of the season.
The next race for the IMSA SportsCar Championship will be August 26-28 at Virginia International Raceway in Alton, Virginia.