Shift Up Now Athlete Sabre Cook showcased her potential with a career-best finish of 12th and career-best qualifying of 14th during her Porsche Deluxe Carrera Cup North America debut on the streets of Long Beach, CA on April 14-16, 2023.
The second event of the 2023 Porsche Deluxe Carrera Cup North America season kicked off with a busy Friday for competitors and teams. The first of two practice sessions took place on a dusty, dirty track that provided very little grip.
Cook, who had no previous experience at Long Beach, was ready to turn some laps for the first time in a Porsche Carrera Cup car on a street circuit. Unfortunately, a corner-worker communication issue delayed the session start, and a red flag for an on-track incident cut her opportunity short.
During the second practice of the day, she elected to run only one set of good, used tires, and in order to maximize her track time, she gave up the chance for a mock qualifying. Despite another red flag shortening the session, Cook gained confidence on the track and was ready for qualifying that evening.
To ensure traffic didn’t greatly affect grid order, race officials made the decision to split the field into two separate run groups. As a result, this also halved the qualifying time available.
Cook would start P16 for the first race in the Deluxe KellyMoss No. 37, and P14 for the second race, based on the second-fastest lap time.
Race one began on Saturday evening at 5:15pm PDT. Cook drew on her experience from previous street courses like St. Petersburg and Norisring, which she had previously raced in formula cars. She gained two positions at the start, moving her into the top 15.
At the end of the first lap, the race went full-course yellow due to a car in the flowers at the famous Long Beach fountain. Cook held her position at the restart to stay in P14.
With just eight minutes to go, a second full-course yellow caused a large cleanup that would span the remainder of the race. Cook took the checkered flag in P13, her best finish so far in the Porsche Deluxe Carrera Cup championship. After post-race penalties were assessed, she was awarded a P12 finish.
Sunday afternoon brought the start of race two and Cook’s first starting position inside the top 15. Hoping for a less disjointed race with more green flag track time, she pounced when the green flag flew. She made a strong start and avoided several incidents, advancing to P11 on the first lap.
Running with the lead pack, Cook was in P10 when the first full-course caution flew, and then restarted again in that position. Over the new few laps, she cycled back to 11th, then up to ninth, before the second full-course caution.
At the next restart, Cook was ninth when the field came to the green, and found herself running times 0.3 seconds off the leaders.
Unfortunately, a car contacted the wall and lost a tire, which was covered under a yellow and red debris flag. Due to the nature of the high Armco street circuit barriers, Cook and her competitors were unable to see it. The car in front of her clipped the tire, sending it bouncing off a wall and directly into her car at the entry to turn eight. It broke her front splitter, which immediately affected the car’s handling. It also caused damage and a leak in one of the radiators, forcing her to retire from the race.
“It was such an incredible blessing and experience to race at Long Beach for the first time,” said Cook. “I learned so much and was very pleased with the progress through the weekend.
“The entire Kellymoss team has been so supportive and I’m proud that we get one step better each time we’re on track. It was a disappointment to not clinch my first top-ten finish due to contact with the debris, but regardless there are lots of positives to take from the weekend.
“I cannot thank Deluxe, Kellymoss, PenFed, Prototek, Hagerty, Prometheus, Shift Up Now and Porsche Motorsports North America for their support so far this season. Can’t wait to carry this momentum and progress into the next race at Miami!”
Next up, Cook will compete in the Miami GP in the Porsche Deluxe Carerra Cup series. The third event of the season will take place during the Formula 1 race weekend at the Miami International Autodrome on May 5-7, 2023.