Shift Up Now Athlete Sabre Cook earned a top-15 finish in her debut as the first female competitor in Porsche Deluxe Carrera Cup North America at Sebring International Raceway on Thursday, March 16, 2023.
In the lead up to the Super Sebring combined IMSA and World Endurance Championship event, the Porsche Carrera Cup schedule called for two busy days mid-week. Practice and qualifying were scheduled for Wednesday, March 15th, followed by two, 40-minute races on Thursday.
Cook, who was victorious last fall in the combined efforts of the Kellymoss Shootout and the Porsche Deluxe Female Driver Scholarship, had very little track time on Wednesday before qualifying, due to inclement weather.
In her first qualifying session in the Hagerty-supported, Deluxe Kellymoss Porsche Cup car on the Michelin slick tires, Cook’s fastest lap qualified 19th overall and 18th in class for the first race. For the second race, her second-fastest lap put her in P16.
On Thursday morning, the green flag flew over bright blue skies for the first, single-driver, 40-minute sprint race early on Thursday. Cook had a clean start from the 11th row in the 41-car field, and then went to work, passing one car at a time.
She finished her first-ever Porsche Deluxe Carrera Cup North America race in 15th place. However, after another competitor was assigned a penalty for contact, Cook was promoted to P14.
Later that same day, the second 40-minute sprint race took place. This time, Cook was starting on the outside row, which got bunched up at the start, leaving her in P20 at the end of the first lap. Determined to drive forwards, Cook once again spent much of the race advancing through the field, and moved up to 14th place.
With just a couple laps to go, she attempted a pass at turn seven and made contact with another car. As a result, she was assessed a ten-second penalty post race, which dropped her to P16 on the final timing sheets.
“The way you race, and make passes, in these cars is very different to open wheel,” said Cook. “There’s almost no draft, and I’m trying to learn when to be aggressive, and how to race with very different tools. I’m also stepping into a stacked field, and this is a difficult car to learn and drive fast, so the team has been great in trying to make sure I’m being patient with myself and my progress.
“Kellymoss has worked with a lot of new drivers to this series, so knowing they’re happy with my debut weekend means a lot. I feel like we’ve laid a strong foundation this weekend that we can build on going forwards. I can’t wait to get back behind the wheel at the next race weekend, and keep improving.”
Cook’s next race event in the Porsche Deluxe Carrera Cup North America is at the Long Beach Grand Prix on April 14-16, 2023.