When the flag drops this week at Daytona, the four-hour enduro will feature a pair of firsts. First, it is the first time an all-woman driver team has competed in the GS (Grand Sport) class. It also marks the first time an all-women team will compete in motorsports since the merger of Grand-Am and the American Le Mans Series in 2014.
Strong women's team fielded
The team of Ashley Freiberg of the U.S. and Gosta Rdest of Poland will compete in an all-new Audi R8 LMS GT4 in the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge. The event marks the much-anticipated debut of the Audi R8 LMS GT4. The R8 fulfills all of the categories for Audi Sport customer racing – GT3, GT4, and TCR.
Supported by GMG Racing, car owner Daren Jorgensen, and the Audi Tire Center, the co-drivers have a wealth of driving experience. Freiberg was the first woman to win an overall race at Daytona and in the Continental SportsCar Challenge.
Rdest competed in the Audi Sport TT Cup from 2015-2017 and had both TCR and GT4 racing experience. Rdest placed first in the GT4 class at the Dubai 24-hour two weeks ago. In the Dubai contest, she was behind the wheel of a Phoenix Racing entry that will continue in that role during the 2018 SRO GT4 European Series.
“Women are few and far between in motorsports, so the opportunity to join an all-women team with Audi is really exciting. My gender doesn’t make a difference when I’m behind the wheel. I still have to do a good job and drive the car hard; the data and lap times won’t lie,” Frieberg told an interview. “I think we’ll be a strong team, not because we’re female, but because we’re drivers that are ready to do the job well.”
The team has been in the work for a time
An all-women lineup under the Audi flag has been in the works since the inception of the Audi Sport customer racing program in 2012, according to Tristan Herbert, senior manager of Motorsport and Customer Racing. “It’s only fitting that we continue this progress at the competition level within customer racing. We chose these drivers because they’re talented, professional and lay down impressive lap times in the front of the field.”
An all-female lineup under the Audi flag has been in the works since the inception of the Audi Sport customer racing program in 2012, according to Tristan Herbert, senior manager of Motorsport and Customer Racing. “It’s only fitting that we continue this progress at the competition level within customer racing. We chose these drivers because they're talented, professional and lay down impressive lap times in the front of the field.”
Frieberg and Rdest are not the only women working with Audi racing. Rahel Frey is working her way through the ranks since she began racing with the brand in 2011. She concluded a successful 2017 season with a third in the Audi R8 LMS GT4 in SP-X class at the 2017 Nurburgring 24 Hours for Audi Sport Team Phoenix.
Team member 'honored to drive'
"I feel very privileged and honored to drive progress for women in motorsports,” Rdest said in an interview. “I have always thought that it’s not the gender, but the passion, endurance and hard work that are the mainstay of the winner.”
The first practice was set to begin Wednesday. The 4-hour Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge race starts at 1 p.m. Friday. To view the race live, you will need the IMSA app which you can download from IMSA.TV.