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  • Writer's pictureLIAM REDFORD

Caroline Candas claims two podiums, battles for race victories at Circuit of the Americas

It was an excellent return to Circuit of the Americas for RAFA Racing's Caroline Candas, whose race pace was particularly impressive as she challenged for a maiden race victory in Porsche Sprint Challenge North America, setting her first fastest lap in a thrilling second race and achieving runner-up finishes.


Caroline Candas, RAFA Racing Club, Porsche Sprint Challenge North America, 2024 Circuit of the Americas
Photo credits: Kyle Schwab / Porsche North America

Achieving runner-up finishes at Circuit of the Americas, it was an excellent weekend of racing for Caroline Candas in Porsche Sprint Challenge North America. Candas challenged for her maiden victory in the series with a superb performance in race two especially, where she claimed her first ever fastest lap in the series. Matching her points haul from the season opener at Sebring International Raceway, Caroline is getting every close to a maiden victory.


Caroline returned to Circuit of the Americas with fond memories following her RAFA Racing Club Shootout victory in November. With three overall podium results from the first four races of the season, it has been an excellent start to Caroline’s stateside racing career.


Candas was also supplementing her Porsche Sprint Challenge North America commitments with an appearance in the inaugural Porsche Endurance Challenge North America event, where she would team up with newcomer Madeline Stewart.


A series of test sessions on Thursday allowed Candas to get up to speed, while teams also gained experience with their Porsche Endurance Challenge North America teammates. In the first session on Friday, the two-driver lineups concluded their practice with the #84 Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 RS Clubsport in eighth position. In final practice, reserved solely for Porsche Sprint Challenge North America drivers, Candas set her fastest lap time of the weekend which saw her top the leaderboard heading into qualifying.


Qualifying on Saturday morning would set the grid for both races, with Caroline one of the first on track. Immediately getting up to speed, her first flying lap was one tenth of a second faster than she managed in final practice on Friday. A number of consistent times saw Candas set the third fastest time overall, putting her in a good position to challenge for her first race victory.


Starting race one of the weekend from third position, Candas made a good initial launch and ran side-by-side into turn one with teammate Ian Porter. With Caroline taking a neater line into the corner, Porter held the position round the outside as he pushed the limits of the track. At the end of the opening lap, the top-3 drivers were running nose-to-tail with Candas just three tenths of a second behind Porter.


In the early exchanges, the RAFA Racing Club Shootout winner was holding her own in the top-3 with her progress halted on lap four as the safety car was deployed. The car of Kevin Maxim had stopped on the main straight and a cleanup was required which neutralised the race. A good restart from Caroline on lap eight saw her hold in close proximity with Porter as the top-3 drivers, led by Nick Shaeffer, pulled clear of the field.


Shaeffer and Porter than began to battle, with Caroline closing the gap to the leaders on lap ten. As the battle at the front continued to intensity, an issue for the race leader saw Shaeffer drop through the field and this promoted Candas to second. Unable to quite bridge the gap to Porter ahead, Caroline took the checkered flag in second position to tie her best result in Porsche Sprint Challenge North America.


Caroline Candas, RAFA Racing Club, Porsche Sprint Challenge North America, 2024 Circuit of the Americas
Photo credits: Kyle Schwab / Porsche North America

Race two of the weekend took place on Sunday morning with Candas once again lining up in third position courtesy of her second fastest time set in qualifying. It was another good launch for Candas who challenged Porter for the runner-up position, with her RAFA Racing Team by JDX teammate holding the position on the exit of the first turn with all-four wheels beyond the white line. At the conclusion of lap one, the top-three drivers were all running close together.


Caroline’s early race pace was strong, setting the fastest lap of the race on lap three while setting the quickest sector one of the entire race. This ensured she remained just one and a half seconds off the race lead held by Nick Shaeffer, with Porter running well in second. Candas continued to apply pressure to the lead pair and the gap to Shaeffer was reduced to one second at the conclusion of lap seven.


On lap eight, the three drivers ran nose-to-tail down the back straight with Porter making a move to the inside of Shaeffer for the race lead. Porter completed the move round the outside of the corner, pushing the boundaries of the track. Caroline’s teammate aimed to pull away from Shaeffer, however the JTR Motorsports Engineering racer was determined to fight back. The lead trio remained in close proximity, with Candas running just a quarter of a second behind Shaeffer.


After a period of sustained pressure by the French racer, Shaeffer encountered an issue on lap 13 which saw Caroline promoted to second. On the same lap, Candas cut into Porter’s lead with her teammate’s lead margin now just one second. Taking the checkered flag less than a second behind her RAFA Racing Team by JDX stablemate, Caroline collected her second runner-up finish of the weekend while claiming her first fastest lap of the season.


It was an excellent return to Circuit of the Americas for Candas who displayed the speed and racecraft which saw her crowned RAFA Racing Club Shootout winner. Caroline’s race pace was particularly impressive as she challenged for a maiden race victory, setting the fastest lap in a thrilling second race. Another good haul of points were also banked by the young French driver as she consolidated second in the championship.


Targeting her first race victory, Candas will now be looking ahead to her first trip to Virginia International Raceway with round four taking place on the weekend of June 15th/16th.


Caroline Candas, RAFA Racing Club, Porsche Sprint Challenge North America, 2024 Circuit of the Americas
Photo credits: Kyle Schwab / Porsche North America

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