The all female Porsche #88 finished 5th at the 12 Hours of Sebring, despite the challenges facing them.
The all-female number 88 Porsche finished in 5th place in the GTD class at 69th 12 Hours of Sebring last weekend. Former IndyCar driver Bia Figueiredo, who recently became a mom, joined two-time GTD champion Christina Nielsen and one-time GTD runner-up Katherine Legge last minute to tackle the 12-hour race in the GTD class. This wasn’t the first time all three of them have worked together. In 2018 they attacked the 24 Hours of Daytona together in an Acura alongside Swiss-racer Simona de Silvestro.
It was a challenging 2020 for all three of them; of course, all of them have felt the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, but personal difficulties arose as well. Legge suffered a broken leg and wrist in an LMP2 crash. Figueiredo lost her seat in Stock Car Brasil after being linked to an embezzlement case in Brazil.
Starting the weekend, both Legge and Nielsen knew it was going to be a difficult one. The Porsche was very different from the Ferrari Nielsen won her two championships in and the Acura they had used at the 24 Hours of Daytona. “We are just super grateful to be here and trying to build,” Legge told IMSA.com on the Friday before the race. “It’s a bit of a last-minute deal, just trying to build something meaningful with Hardpoint EBM, trying to scramble and put everything together.”
The weekend started with the team getting a 13th place in the first practice session, a 12th place in the 2nd, and a 13th again in the third practice session. In qualifying, they slightly improved, ending up in 10th place. Their #99 sister car with Earl Bamber, Rob Ferriol, and Trenton Estep qualified right behind them.
“It’s been a pleasure working with everyone, and I think considering how short of a time we had to gel together, I think it was quite impressive. This last moment, unfortunately, defines the final results, but I don’t want that to be the one thing that takes away all the good stuff that we produced.”
Nielsen started the race in 9th after a penalty for the #19 car and remained in the same spot for her two opening stints. As the hours went on, they slowly moved their way into the top 7 and remained there through the afternoon. Once the temperatures cooled down as the sun started to set, they picked up the pace. With just over two and a half hours to go, Legge started her final stint in the #88 car. She returned to the track in 7th and slowly made her way up to fourth before a full course caution came. The race returned to green with 17 minutes to go, and Legge made another pass for P3. With only two laps remaining, the team got handed a late drive-through penalty for contact with a competitor. This dropped them to P5, the place they would finish the race in.
Despite the penalty, the team still achieved a great result at Sebring Raceway. The three drivers were bummed as they felt they deserved a podium, but they can still look back at the race as a great one. “It’s been a pleasure working with everyone, and I think considering how short of a time we had to gel together, I think it was quite impressive. This last moment, unfortunately, defines the final results, but I don’t want that to be the one thing that takes away all the good stuff that we produced.” Christina Nielsen told after the race.
Now Nielsen and Legge prepare for the next IMSA race at Mid-Ohio, which’s set to run from May 14th till May 16th
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Eline follows a variety of motorsports from Formula E to IMSA to Nascar to WEC. They hope to study Mechanical Engineering to work in motorsports one day.
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