TRG-AMR finishes second in the 2015 IMSA GTD Championship - A Reflection

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Perhaps the feel good story of the 2015 GT race season in North America was in the IMSA Tudor United SportsCar Championship and the efforts of TRG-Aston Martin Racing. The privateer team from Northern California featuring a rising star driver in her first full season of racing in the V12 Vantage took the fight to the mighty teams of Porsche, Ferrari, BMW, Viper and Audi and almost pulled it off.

TRG-Aston Martin Racing driver Christina Nielsen began the season on a high note as the team captured the Pole Position at the 24 Hours of Daytona 24 race with co-drivers James Davison, Brandon Davis and fellow Dane, Christoffer Nygaard. Unfortunately, part way through the race with the 007 car in the race lead, an amateur driver in a Ferrari pulled back out onto the racetrack after a spin and collided with the #007 V12 Vantage -- taking the team out of contention. The team made the decision to work throughout the night to get the car back on the track to capture a few valuable points for the championship. They fought back in the next race at the 12 Hours of Sebring and rallied to a 2nd place podium finish to regain championship points momentum that stayed with them right to the end of the season.

Christina Nielsen and James Davison continued to drive the #007 V12 Vantage to Top 5 qualifying and finishing results, including leading at the IMSA race at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. The duo of Nielsen and Davison followed up their performance with a strong P2 finish at the Belle Isle race in Detroit.

Later in June, the team brought in reigning 2014 IMSA GT Le Mans champion, Kuno Wittmer to serve as Christina’s co-driver for the balance of the season and it proved to be an immediate fit. Wittmer provided solid driver coaching for Nielsen as she was getting faster and faster on the track -- including consecutive podium finishes at Lime Rock and Road America. These results vaulted Nielsen and the team into the points lead in the IMSA GT Daytona championships and placed an Aston Martin in the lead of a North American championship for the first time in history. This was also the first time a female driver had the chance of winning an international GT championship and it vaulted Nielsen and her #007 Orion/LaSalle Solutions/Royal Purple/Passtime V12 Vantage into the media spotlight through August and into September.

The team then extended its points lead in the IMSA GT Daytona class by finishing on the podium again at VIR with only two races remaining in the 2015 IMSA season (Circuit of the Americas, Road Atlanta).

The three-way battle for the GT Daytona championship between Aston Martin, Ferrari and Audi made for epic media coverage and fan excitement. At Circuit of the Americas, TRG-AMR would see their luck change however, as an untimely full-course caution flag undermined the team’s fuel strategy and the #007 V12 Vantage would finish the race off the podium and allow the Ferrari and Audi to regain ground as TRG-AMR were now leading the driver and manufacturer championship by only 1 point heading into the final race of the year -- Petit Le Mans.

As the team entered the final stretch, the pressure was on as the media and the fans wanted to see history made with the #007 V12 Vantage and driver Christina Nielsen in this epic 10 hour battle. The torrential rain and poor weather conditions that had struck the Atlanta area for the October 2-3 weekend had disrupted race strategy for all the teams. Multiple full course caution flags, safety cars, and even a red flag stoppage of the race wreaked havoc on all fronts. The team went down a lap due to poor visibility conditions but was just moments away from regaining the position due to fuel strategy but IMSA officials decided to stop the race just before eight of the scheduled ten hours had been completed. That IMSA decision placed TRG-AMR one lap down to the Scuderia Corsa Ferrari team and resulted in a 2 point advantage for the Ferrari over the Aston Martin after 10 months of hard racing.

While not the season result that TRG-AMR had hoped for, the team proudly accepted its second place driver and team championship awards as the crowd cheered Danish driver Christina Nielsen, the team and the performance displayed throughout the 2015 race season. The TRG-AMR team has much to be proud of and is determined to return in 2016 to win the GT Daytona championship and with an Aston Martin racecar.

Source material & photo credits - TRG-AMR
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