Podium and Pole Position for Freiberg at Watkins Glen

July 10, 2024

Shift Up Now Athlete Ashley Freiberg earned her third consecutive podium with a third-place finish for round five of the Porsche Sprint Challenge North America by Yokohama championship at Watkins Glen International (WGI) on July 5-7, 2024.

Driving the No. 222 Thu Brulé / Mobil1 992 Porsche Cup Car for Kellymoss Racing, Freiberg went into the weekend third in the championship points. On Friday, she ran P2 in the first practice and P1 in the second under dry and sunny conditions on the 3.377-mile, 11-turn WGI race track.

During qualifying on Saturday morning, Freiberg - along with competitors Jared Thomas and Paul Bocuse - established a significant performance gap over the rest of the field. Freiberg was at full pace on her first flying lap on Yokohama tires, and set her best lap times of the weekend.

Just two laps into the session, a massive crash on the front straight caused a black flag. Extensive cleanup meant the qualifying session never returned to green, so Freiberg’s second- fastest lap time put her in P2 for race one.

Later that afternoon, she was lined up on the outside of the front row for the first race. When the green flag flew, Freiberg conceded one position to the P3 car, which was running the inside line in turn one. After that, she held her third-place position for the remainder of the race. The finish marked her third consecutive podium of the season.

Freiberg’s second lap from Saturday’s qualifying session earned her the pole position for race two on Sunday. She lead the field to the green flag and got a solid jump at the start.

For the first 25 minutes of the race, she held a gap of less than 0.5 seconds over the second- place car. She took smartly-calculated defensive lines, at turn one and the brake zone of the bus stop, to defend her lead and handle the pressure of the car behind.

With ten minutes remaining, Freiberg had increased the gap to almost one second, her biggest of the competition so far. That’s when she caught lapped traffic at the exit of turn 10. She had to compromise her line - and speed - as she made the pass going into the front straight. This gave the P2 car a run and erased the small margin of distance, but Freiberg was able to defend her lead.

A few corners later, in the middle of the bus stop chicane, she caught the second lapped car. Once again, her momentum was stalled, but she maintained her P1 position. Not to be thwarted, the second-place car went three-wide to pass the lapped car as well.

Still in the lead, Freiberg caught the third lapped car at the start of the famous WGI Climbing Esses, an area where single-file is the only option. She could only wait until the track

straightened out at the top of the hill, at which point the lapped car ceded the racing line to let her by. As they approached the brake zone, she pulled alongside to make the pass. At the same time, the second-place car moved to the middle, forcing the trio to go three-wide. As a result, the cars touched, sending both of the leaders into violent, high-speed spins. The incident also collected the lapped car and the competitor in third place. Thankfully, all drivers were able to walk away safely, but a disappointing ending nonetheless for Freiberg’s potential for victory.

Next up, the Porsche Sprint Challenge North America by Yokohama will head to Wisconsin for round six of the 2024 championship at Road America on August 9-11, 2024.

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