Shift Up Now Athlete Ashley Freiberg earned a second-place finish driving for MDK Motorsports in the Porsche Sprint Challenge at Road America on Saturday, August 12, 2023. The podium finish extended her streak to nine podiums in as many starts.
The first practice of the weekend was rained out, costing Freiberg much-needed time on the newly-repaved racetrack. According to other sources, repaving the 4.048-mile, 15-turn track has caused somewhat tricky and slippery conditions offline for drivers, making passing tough.
As a result of practice one being rained out, and with no testing time leading up to the event, Freiberg turned only 12 laps ahead of qualifying in her 991.2 Shift Up Now liveried Porsche Cup Car. Despite this, her pace was good enough for third on the time sheets and she felt good about her chances of taking a front-row spot for race one.
To add to the difficulty of the weekend, the 991 Porsche Cup Cars were split from the newer 992 Porsche Cup Cars, and instead raced in the same group as the Porsche Caymans. The bigger speed differential gave both the 992 and 991 competitors the chance for a clean race amongst each other without interference from similar-speed cars in a different class. However for the 991 class, the much slower Porsche Cayman traffic would potentially impede their race by creating traffic that would need to be lapped. This would prove true in Freiberg’s race on Sunday.
Qualifying took place on Saturday morning. After just three flying laps, Freiberg’s car experienced a mechanical failure, leaving her with a fifth-place spot on the starting grid for the first race, and a fourth-place start for the second. The MDK Motorsports team worked tirelessly to get her car ready for that afternoon’s competition, and Freiberg was able to take her starting position just in time.
Starting from the inside of row three for the 40-minute race, Freiberg worked her way forward toward the front of the field. Setting the second fastest lap of the race, and making passes offline on the slippery track, she earned a second-place finish and ninth podium of the season.
On Sunday, Freiberg started on the outside of the second row. This time, she set the fastest lap in pursuit of the front of the field.
Once she made the pass for the lead, and with the second pace car behind her, she caught lapped traffic. When a car spun car at the final corner and caused a local yellow, no passing was allowed through the incident zone.
After the incident, Freiberg pulled out to pass the lapped traffic on the long, uphill run to the start- finish line. Unfortunately, she was a couple feet ahead of a slower Cayman in a separate class at the green flag station. So although she took the checkered flag on the following lap to win, she was then assessed a penalty and had to forfeit the victory.
“Racing has the highest of highs, and the lowest of lows,” said Freiberg. “I came here with hardly any laps and battling illness. Then we had the mechanical in qualifying, and the team pulled together in the most incredible way to get me out in the race yesterday.
“Today, I felt I drove one of the best races of my season, and to have it taken away after the flag is a huge hit to the gut. Everyone worked so hard this weekend, and today was a hard learning experience.
“I’m so thankful for the support I’ve received from the crew, my teammates, my sponsors and even other people in the paddock, and I’m going to get ready to come back even stronger at the next event at COTA.”
Freiberg and her MDK Motorsports team will head to Circuit of the Americas for the next event of the Porche Spring Challenge season on Friday, August 25, 2023.