Christina Nielsen sets sights on another memorable Le Mans 24 Hours

first_imgfeatures Casual observers of this year’s Le Mans 24 Hours might be forgiven for believing that despite boasting a grid of 60 cars, encompassing 180 drivers, the meeting concerns but two.Inevitably it is Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button who have caused the furore as the two former Formula One world champions attempt to add winning the world’s greatest grand prix d’endurance to their CVs. Yet, as always, this magnificent event is so much more and for Denmark’s Christina Nielsen, racing at Le Mans is almost a family affair.Nielsen is competing for the third time at Circuit de la Sarthe, having already blazed a trail with a hugely successful career. She competes for the Ebimotors team in the GTE-AM class in a Porsche 911 RSR. Porsche are the race’s most successful manufacturer with 19 overall wins and have chosen Nielsen as the first woman with whom they have an official association, with the title of Porsche selected driver. Topics For the 26-year-old it is honour and pleasure. Her father, Lars Erik Nielsen, drove a Porsche in four of his five runs at Le Mans between 2004 and 2008. In 2007 Nielsen attended the race to watch him when she was 15. This time he will be at the track to watch her.She is in the car wholly by right. Having begun karting relatively late at the age of 13, she threw herself into the sport. “In my family you either don’t do it or you give it 100%,” she says. “When you do, the goal keeps getting higher and higher.”Her ambition was rewarded in 2016 when she became the first woman to win the IMSA sportscar championship in the US in the GT Daytona class and remarkably repeated the feat the following year. The class is hugely competitive, as it will be at Le Mans, but the close racing is the attraction for Nielsen. Le Mans 24 Hours Twitter Support The Guardian Jenson Button Reuse this content It was Denmark’s Tom Kristensen who really put the race on the map in their home country, becoming the most successful driver at Le Mans with nine wins, but Nielsen too has made her mark and is putting it to good use. She is active in the Danish Women’s Society. “Our common goal in the organisation is to promote equality,” she explains. “So in a sport like racing, where men and women compete equally, to have those results to back me up is really important.”She has the credentials then but others still have lessons to be learned and there is some exasperation already at Le Mans. “I get annoyed when I am in a drivers’ briefing and the race director for the third year in a row continues to say: ‘Gentlemen, gentlemen, gentlemen.’ Instead of ladies and gentlemen, or he could just say ‘drivers’. I picked them up on it for the last two years but this year I didn’t because it didn’t change, so all I can do is go out and do my thing on the race track.” Share on Messenger The important thing was sitting in the car, saying: ‘We can win this bastard.’Derek Bell When Nielsen does, she knows she will not be the centre of attention and this week it has been impossible to ignore Alonso and Button. However, another former Porsche driver, Derek Bell, who won four of his five race victories for them, remembered gloriously in his new book, All My Porsche Races, believes the same principles for success apply across the grid when drivers share the car for 24 hours.“You have to work as a team,” says Bell. “You have to have total respect for your team-mates. The important thing was sitting in the car and saying: ‘We can win this bastard.’ And you have confidence your team-mates agree.” Share on LinkedIn Share on Pinterest Facebook center_img Share on Facebook Christina Nielsen with her Le Mans 2018 co-drivers – Fabio Babini, left, and Erik Maris. Photograph: Porsche Fernando Alonso Pinterest Read more Motor sport Fernando Alonso might consider F1 future after McLaren’s Canada failure Share via Email Bell drove with the great Jacky Ickx for three of his five wins, a formidable pairing indeed, but good team-mates are only part of the story. The 8.46‑mile La Sarthe circuit has unique demands but drivers must also cope with the volume of traffic and the high closing speeds between classes – all skills Nielsen possesses but ones that Alonso and Button must learn in short order.“They both have enough brains but you have to be able to analyse,” Bell says. “You mustn’t look at every gap and think it is a chance to go past and win. You have to think: ‘Will I benefit, or will it bugger up my lap?’”He is optimistic, however, that both have what it takes to prove themselves at the first attempt on the 24. “Fernando will adapt very quickly as he has been in the car already and Jenson will adapt because he knows what he has to do to win,” he says. “It’s more of a thinking race than F1 or any other.”Nielsen know all this already and brings a professional detachment to the maelstrom around the superstars. “It’s great that they are part of making it a success,” she says. “But once they are behind the wheel they are just like everyone else.”For her it is an event greater than any individual, no matter their fame. “Le Mans is so much bigger than anything else,” she says. “Every driver leaves with the same feeling: that I hope I can be back here next year – another 364 days and I can’t wait.” Share on Twitter Share on WhatsApp … we have a small favour to ask. 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first_imgAs the October 14 deadline approaches for affiliates to sign on with Touch Football Australia, more and more people are contacting the office, asking how the decision their affiliate makes will affect them. In the past couple of weeks information packs were sent out to every affiliate Australia-wide (with the exception of NSW affiliates), containing info on the unitary model of managment and the process and benefits of affiliation with Touch Football Australia (TFA). This article contains 10 FAQ’s about the NTL, what this means for elite players, info for coaches/referees/selectors, insurance, assets and more. If you are wondering the importance of your affiliates decision for you as a general Touchie, click here for the full story: 1) I’M AN ELITE PLAYER. WHAT HAPPENS TO ME? Players must be part of an affiliated competition to be eligible to participate in the National Touch League (NTL) and all other competitions run or sanctioned by Touch Football Australia (TFA). Players from unaffiliated competitions will not be able to play in regional, state, interstate, national or international competitions. This follows through into Regional, State, and National representative teams, with only players from affiliated competitions being eligible for selection. This is no different than the rules in place already. The current NTL “Conditions of Entry” require that all participating ATA NTL Permit holders and CB’s and Participants must be fully financial with the ATA and abide by the laws and by-laws of the ATA – ie you (Participants) will not be eligible to be a part of the NTL if you are involved in a non-affiliated competition. Representative players are also currently chosen from affiliated competitions only. Talent ID and high performance support of all kinds, including funding assistance to events, camps, sports science and medicine – will only be available to players from affiliated competitions. There will be no elite pathway for athletes involved in unaffiliated competition. Rumours of “elite competition” against New Zealand teams are false. The Touch New Zealand Board has informed us that they will not be sanctioning any competition between non-affiliated regions in Australia with affiliated members of TNZ. Please note: NSW players are not affected, as under the new constitution NSW is a member in its own right. 2) I’M AN ACCREDITED COACH / OFFICIAL. WHAT HAPPENS TO ME? Touch Football Australia (TFA) is the peak body for the sport and is recognised by the Australian Sports Commission (ASC). TFA runs courses and accredits coaches and officials under the auspices of the National Coaching Accreditation Scheme and the National Officiating Accreditation Scheme of the ASC. To be eligible to further your career or knowledge as a coach or official under these schemes, you will need to be a part of an affiliated competition. Only TFA will run nationally recognised courses as these courses are copyright and non-affiliated bodies will not be able to run them. In addition only TFA will offer qualifications for coaches and officials that will be recognised nationally and internationally. Assessments for coaches and officials will only be available at TFA sanctioned competitions. State and national coaches, referees and selectors will be chosen from among those involved in affiliated competitions only. 3) AS AN AFFILIATE, WE RUN / WANT TO RUN AUSTOUCH. WHAT IMPACT DOES THE UNITARY MODEL HAVE? AusTouch is the official vehicle for introducing juniors into the sport. It was developed by Touch Football Australia (TFA) with assistance from the Australian Sports Commission and is copyright. No unaffiliated organisation will be able to run AusTouch programs or use AusTouch resources. 4) OUR AFFILIATE NEEDS SERVICE FROM DEVELOPMENT OFFICERS. HOW DOES THE NEW MODEL IMPACT ON THIS? Development Officers from the TFA offices in each state will provide service to affiliated competitions only. 5) OUR AFFILIATE RUNS/IS PLANNING TO RUN SPORTING PULSE FOR OUR COMPETITION MANAGEMENT. IF WE DON’T AFFILIATE, WHAT HAPPENS? Only affiliated competitions will have access to Sporting Pulse, which is paid for through affiliation fees. If TFA does not receive an affiliate’s fees, then it cannot provide the service to them. 6) WILL WE BE INSURED IF WE DON’T AFFILIATE? No. Affiliation fees paid to TFA include a component for insurance which is immediately forwarded to the national insurance provider along with details of whom is paying the insurance. If fees are not paid, you will not be covered. Non-affiliated competitions may seek other insurance arrangements. However, by virtue of large purchasing power, TFA is able to offer low rates and good cover. Alternative arrangements by smaller organisations are unlikely to be competitive or offer comparable benefits. 7) WHAT HAPPENS TO THE NTL PERMITS? The current arrangements for Permits in all states except Qld will not change, since all affiliates will become part of TFA. The current arrangements for NSW Permits will not change. 8) I’M FROM A QLD REGION THAT DOES NOT SUPPORT THE NEW STRUCTURE. WHAT HAPPENS TO OUR NTL PERMIT? TFA owns and allocates all Permits. The TFA Board will reconsider the allocation of Permits in Qld on the basis of the number of affiliates that become members of TFA as of October 14, 2005. TFA will cancel Permits currently allocated to those regions that are not part of the new structure. Sunshine Coast will be allocated the current Rustlers Permit. TFA affiliates across the Rustlers drawing area will be eligible to be a part of the Permit but athletes from non-affiliated competitions will not. Brisbane City will retain their Permit. 9) HOW MUCH WILL AFFILIATION FEES COST UNDER THE NEW STRUCTURE? For the upcoming season, fees will remain as they are now. However, once the new structure is fully in place and we are able to budget effectively, fees will be reviewed for season one 2006. 10) OUR AFFILIATE HAS ASSETS. IF WE BECOME PART OF TFA DO WE HAVE TO TRANSFER THEM TO TFA? No. Affiliates continue to operate as they do now. Assets of affiliates will not be affected; they will not be transferred to anyone at any time.last_img read more