x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

First woman racer in Middle East series thrilled to be a pioneer

Christina Nielsen, who will become first woman to compete in Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge in Bahrain this weekend, is optimistic sport will see more female drivers.

Christina Nielsen will race at the Bahrain International Circuit this weekend. Courtesy GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East
Christina Nielsen will race at the Bahrain International Circuit this weekend. Courtesy GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East

Christina Nielsen hopes she can pave the way for more women to break into motor racing in the Middle East when she becomes the first female driver to race in Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East this weekend.

Speaking ahead of testing for the opening rounds of the season at the Bahrain International Circuit, Nielsen said: "I am thrilled at the thought of racing in the Middle East. The circuits look fantastic and I've only heard good things on the quality of racing and the organisation of the series.

"By getting seating time and be able to compete I'm following my dream. I'm a competitive person, and I wish to grow as a racing driver from this experience."

The GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East encompasses 12 races over six weekends, including two races at the Yas Marina Circuit on December 6-7, and two at the Dubai Autodrome, December 13-14.

Nielsen says she is not intimidated by the male-dominated sport and hopes her entry into the series will be a platform for more female drivers joining the racing scene.

"More and more women are interested in motorsport, especially in Europe and America, and hopefully it will happen in the Middle East, too. All they need is encouragement and the chance to compete," she said.

The Danish driver will race against veteran professionals and promising regional drivers when the fourth season of the series begins on Friday. Nielsen, 20, has competed in the German Porsche Carrera Cup and this year's VLN Endurance Racing Championship on the Nurburgring.

"I am ready for the challenge. I may be the only woman to drive in the championship, but for me when I put my helmet on I'm just another one of the drivers. I set my own targets to achieve and focus on my own goals."

Nielsen comes from a racing family. He father, Lars Eric Nielsen, raced Porsches at Le Mans and he passed on his love of the sport to his daughter. She was 13 when she decided she wanted a career in racing, after she experienced the "adrenalin kick of speeding" in karting.

She began her race career in 2006 with four years of karting, driving for the Zanardi factory team, Chiese Corsa, with whom she qualified for and competed in the world championship. From there it was Formula Ford in 2010 and the Formula ADAC Masters series in 2011.

Walter Lechner, manager of the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East is expecting big things from the Dane. "The championship is a breeding ground for new talent independent of gender," he said. "We are happy to have made our own piece of race history by having the first female to compete in the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East."

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