The first female to race in the most exciting and professional race series, the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East, is set to embark on the European circuit after completing a successful first season in the region.
Denmark’s Christina Nielsen left a big impression, as she held her own amongst a strong grid. The impressionable 21-year-old finished eighth in the overall championship standings with 113 points and fourth in the Silver Michelin category after making eight appearances out of 12 in the fourth season.
Reflecting on making Porsche GT3 Cup history in the Middle East and her first season in the championship, Christina said: “It has been an incredible experience and real journey of discovery. The Middle East season has taught me a lot about myself and my driving. I got to drive at some amazing, world-class tracks and also my first night race.
“Winning the Silver Michelin category standings in Qatar and listening to the Danish national anthem was one of the most memorable occasions in my career so far. The experience that I have gained has not only improved my driving but it has also given me the confidence to go to Europe and challenge for major honours. I can take a lot of positives with me and mentally I am so much stronger as result of coming to the Middle East to race.”
“It was not about breaking barriers or making history as being the first female to drive in the region. I simply wanted to become a better driver and this competition presented the ideal platform for enhancing my skills. The standard of competition and the Porsche challenge is on a par with the top series Europe, and I believe within a few years the regional racing championship will be competing with the best race series around the world so it will be the perfect breeding ground for future champions. I have to thank everyone involved. I was treated first and foremost as a driver and the racing is very professionally organised. Hopefully I can return to race and build on this experience in the future,” added Nielsen.
Born in Rungsted, Denmark, Nielsen is no stranger to the European circuit having competed in the German Porsche Carrera Cup and the VLN Endurance Racing Championship in Nürburgring last season.
This season, Nielsen will compete in the prestigious ADAC GT Masters series alongside fellow Danish driver Allan Simonsen. She will also tackle her endurance skills when she competes the in a 24-hour race at Nürburgring Nordschleife in May. Even though the highly-skilled driver has competed on the famous Northern Loop, this will be her first durability test.
She added: “I have not raced in a 24-hours race before and it will be a massive challenge for me. It will test of endurance, physical and mental strength and above all my driving skills. But it is a race I am looking forward to.”
The Danish is looking to win the Bronze category in the GT Masters and a top ten finish in the overall championship standings.
Walter Lechner, Manager of Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East, said: “Christina has been one of the highlights of the fourth season. She has proved her ability to compete with the best in region. This race series is all about nurturing new talent especially from the region and giving them a platform to compete at the highest level. Christina is the perfect example for other young race drivers with male or female to get involved and show you have what it takes.
“Her performances improved as the season continued and she was fighting for the podium against the strongest grid ever assembled in the history of the series. She will go to Europe as a better driver and I believe some European sportsmen will be in for a surprise in their season,” added Lechner.
The fourth season in the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East culminated with Al Nabooda Racing’s Clemens Schmid sealing the title in the final round at Bahrain International Circuit. The Austrian finished second, behind team-mate Karim Al-Azhari in the closest race of the season, but the result was enough for him to become the first European to win the Middle East title.
The Austrian was a worthy leader after winning 9 out of 12 races to wrestle the title from Saudi Falcons Abdulaziz AlFaisal, in the most keenly fought championship in the history of the series.