Shift Up Now Athlete Ashley Freiberg earned two consecutive second-place finishes in the Porsche Sprint Challenge North America 991 class during the Children’s Grand Prix of Alabama race weekend at Barber Motorsports Park on April 29-30, 2023.
The first of two practice sessions on Friday marked Freiberg’s first time back at Barber in ten years. During the first session, while the MDK Motorsports Team worked to dial in the set-up, Freiberg focused on seat time, and getting reacquainted with the racetrack in her blue, Shift Up Now-liveried Porsche Cup Car.
In the second session, feeling more comfortable in the car, Freiberg posted the second-fastest time in the 991 class, just 0.1 off the fastest lap. The shorter lap distance, combined with the high speed and blind corners at Barber made traffic a significant factor throughout the session, making it challenging to get clear laps.
On Saturday, the cloudy and cool weather made the track conditions better for qualifying than they had been the day before. The combination of continuing to dial in the setup, and the traffic, left Freiberg feeling as though it was tough to pull off a flier. However, in the end, Freiberg made the most of her new Yokohama tires, and it was a strong qualifying run.
She would start second for the first race, just two-tenths off P1, and on pole for the second race, three-tenths ahead of P2.
Later that day, race one took place under warm, sunny skies. Freiberg’s team made some adjustments to the 991.2 Porsche Cup Car, continuing to chase the best possible race car, and the now warmer track conditions. At the start of the race, two cars made contact before the start/finish line. Since other cars are not allowed to pass before that line, Freiberg had to brake and slow significantly. This allowed the first place car in her class to get a lead at the start, and put several cars in the faster 992 class between himself and Freiberg.
Freiberg spent the rest of the race working her way through the 992 Porsche Cup Cars, and slowly working to close the down her class leader, as the gap ebbed and flowed through the traffic. She got within a couple of seconds towards the second half of the race, before she found herself trapped behind another 992 Porsche Cup Car, and her car balance dropping off as the laps went on. She would finish in second place in the 991 class at the line, and in P7 overall.
The team made several adjustments before race two and Freiberg felt confident going into the following day’s race.
Sitting on the pole for the start of Sunday’s race, Freiberg had a strong start and held the lead through the first part of the lap. However in turn 4 contact threw her car significantly out of alignment. Her steering wheel was crooked down the straightaways and substantially affected the handling.
Freiberg said the hit was so hard that she was nervous something was broken. When that wasn’t the case, she was able to bring the car home in second place for a back-to-back podium weekend, and as the points leader in the 991 class.
“Overall, the weekend was great,” said Freiberg. “And I felt I progressed a ton with my driving and the car setup. The cards just didn’t fall in our favor.
“A huge thank you to the MDK Motorsports crew and to all of my amazing supporters: Yokohama Tire, Shift Up Now, Bell Helmets and Trak Racer. I’m really happy to still be in the championship lead heading into VIR and it excites me to know exactly what to work on during the down time between races. I’m on a mission!”
Next up, Freiberg and the Porsche Sprint Challenge North America will head to Virginia International Raceway on June 2-4, 2023.