Watkins Glen, N.Y., (June 30, 2013) - History was in the making all weekend at Watkins Glen International. It started with the 100th GT3 Cup Race on Saturday and ended with IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge by Yokohama's Ashley Freiberg becoming the first woman to claim an overall GT3 Cup Challenge victory in North America. Freiberg is the second class winner in US GT3 Cup Challenge history, joining Melanie Snow who won her first Gold Cup race in 2009 at Sebring International Raceway and ultimately went on to win the Gold Cup championship that year.
"Congratulations to Ashley on her inaugural win in the Porsche IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge," said Jens Walther, President & CEO, Porsche Motorsports North America. "The Series is a great platform for young driver talent and, clearly, Ashley has proven herself among the elite drivers in a very strong field. To come on the weekend of the Series' 100th race, seems very appropriate."
IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge by Yokohama driver Freiberg led the field of 26 flag-to-flag in the 101st race to become the first female Platinum Cup female winner as well. Etching her name in the record books is nothing new to the EFFORT Racing driver who has a long resume of first female overall championship and race wins including becoming the first woman in history to win an overall Skip Barber Racing Series championship.
"We couldn't have asked for a better weekend here at Watkins Glen International," said IMSA Development Series Director Steven Sewell. "We had the return of IMSA and Porsche to The Glen with the 100th race yesterday and then to have the first overall female winner in GT3 Cup today is amazing."
The 21-year-old Freiberg has her sights set on the IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge by Yokohama championship after taking the top step for the first time in her rookie season. With the win, Freiberg broke the tie leading into the weekend and is now the sole points leader with 96, followed by Madison Snow of Snow Racing/Wright Motorsports just four points back.
"I'm still taking it all in but I know that my team has worked hard and I've worked hard," Freiberg said. "It feels good to know that hard works pays off and gives us a boost to know we can do this and we are in it for the championship."
Freiberg posted the second-fastest time in qualifications, giving her the BBS pole position for Race Two at Watkins Glen International. She pulled away from the rest of the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup cars with Snow and Angel Benitez Jr. before a yellow caution flag came out three minutes in.
After the No. 13 entry of David Ostella made contact with the wall just after entry to the Bus Stop and and came to a halt in an unsafe position, a nine-minute caution ensued. In the same lap, 100th race winner Benitez Jr. dropped two wheels on the outside of the track and spun in the carousel and ultimately retired from the race. The NGT Motorsport driver remains third in overall Platinum Cup points standings even without finishing.
After the restart, Snow tried to keep up with Freiberg but she throttled up and pulled away building a 1.4-second lead by Lap 9 that increased to a 6.4-second gap by Lap 16. She ultimately finished over 10 seconds ahead of the rest of the field.
"I was chasing Ashley (Freiberg) and then it went full course yellow," Snow said. "On the restart she pulled away from me a little more and then I was fighting off Sloan (Urry) at the end."
EFFORT Racing finished with two drivers on the podium with Sloan Urry on the third step. Urry started in eighth and powered his way up to third for his second podium finish of the 2013 season.
"I feel great," Urry said. "We started further back than we wanted but by lap two I found myself in third place so I was really excited. I was hoping the two in front would battle and let me catch them but Ashley (Freiberg) just took off so I put my head down and started chasing Madison (Snow). We got two podium positions for EFFORT Racing and I'm happy."
Behind the podium finishers, Brett Sandberg in the No. 46 TruSpeed Motorsports car clinched fourth place for his highest finish of the season. Sandberg gained a total of five positions in the race, started back in ninth position.
"I had a pretty good start," Sandberg said. "I got a few passes done early on and managed to avoid the instances. The car was definitely better than yesterday and the guys did a really good job."
A battle for fifth took place behind Sandberg between Masters contender Craig Duerson, Miles Maroney, Colin Thompson and Michael Mills. The group of four were separated by less than two seconds on Lap 17. Two laps later, Thompson had passed both Duerson and Maroney before contact with the wall on driver's left of Turn 7 ended his day.
Ultimately Maroney took the fifth position, just behind his TruSpeed Motorsports teammate Sandberg.
MGM Racing's John Goetz joined in on the history-making by posting a new Gold Cup lap record to break the time Michael Levitas set in Race One. Goetz turned a time of 1:59.476 for the record and took his second Gold Cup victory of the weekend.
Rounds seven and eight of the IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge by Yokohama Series will take place at the Canadian Tire Motorsport Park for the 2013 Grand Prix of Mosport July 19-21.
The Masters Championship
Craig Duerson claimed his third victory of the season in Race Two at Watkins Glen International Raceway. The NGT Motorsport driver finished seventh overall and will stand at second overall in the Masters Championship points standings after round six of the 2013 season.
Kasey Kuhlman of Wright Motorsports holds tight to a one point lead over Duerson in the overall points standings with a total of 101. Patrick Otto-Madsen in the No. 99 Ansa Motorsports car earned his first podium finish of the season at the historic track.
John Goetz earned the Yokohama Hard Charger Award for Race Two
In the Gold Cup Masters Championship, Goetz made his way to the top of the podium again and was joined by Levitas and Williams. Goetz's passing skills earned him the Yokohama Hard Charger Award for Race Two.
Craig Duerson: First Place Platinum Cup Masters Championship "My game plan today was not to challenge too much after my mess up yesterday. I hate to just look at Masters points, but I gave up too many yesterday."
Kasey Kuhlman: Second Place Platinum Cup Masters Championship "I didn't have the pace to run up with the leaders but the car was consistent and I just tried to keep my head down and not make any mistakes again and get a good finish and I think I did."
John Baker: Third Place Platinum Cup Masters Championship "We were four or five wide at the start and everybody seemed to get through clean. If you ran clean in this race you could pass and if you didn't you got passed."