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  • Writer's pictureLIAM REDFORD

Double podium finish for Caroline Candas at Sebring

RAFA Racing Club shootout winner Caroline Candas had an excellent Porsche Sprint Challenge NA debut and collected two runner-up finishes, banking valuable championship points at the iconic Sebring International Raceway.

Caroline Candas, RAFA Racing Club, Porsche Sprint Challenge North America, Sebring 2024
Photo credits: Kyle Schwab / Porsche North America

Caroline Candas opened her account in Porsche Sprint Challenge North America with two excellent runner-up finishes at Sebring International Raceway. The RAFA Racing Club Shootout winner was a consistent frontrunner in the Cayman Pro/Am class by qualifying second and challenging double race-winner Ian Porter throughout the weekend. The RAFA Racing Team by JDX pair were the class of the field, with Candas mounting a late challenge in race two following a late safety car period.

Caroline has quickly settled into to the RAFA Racing Club family following her shootout triumph at COTA in November. Her first competitive race action came two weeks ago where the team shook off any race rustiness by competing in the Hoosier Racing Tire SCCA Super Tour event at NOLA Motorsports Park. Despite her inexperience driving the McLaren 570S GT4, Candas showed excellent speed and claimed a pair of runner-up finishes in the GTX class, in addition to a pole position and fastest lap award. Stepping back into the Porsche Cayman GT4 RS Clubsport, she aimed to contend for top honours in Porsche Sprint Challenge North America from the outset.

The race weekend began with a series of test and practice sessions on Thursday and Friday for Candas to reacclimatise herself with the circuit following a productive test a number of weeks ago. Caroline was consistently fast among the Cayman Pro/Am runners, ending the opening test session second in class. Friday’s practice sessions brought similar cause for optimism as Candas ended the morning session second in Cayman Pro/Am, less than two tenths of a second behind fellow RAFA Racing Team by JDX competitor Ian Porter. Ending the day second fastest once again, Caroline was in prime position to challenge for pole position on Saturday morning.

Caroline Candas, RAFA Racing Club, Porsche Sprint Challenge North America, Sebring 2024
Photo credits: Porsche North America

Conditions remained good for qualifying in what was a closely contested twenty-five-minute session. Candas took to the track alongside Porter with the pair running in tandem and quickly traded fastest lap times. Missing out on pole position by just two tenths of a second, Caroline secured a front row start for her maiden Porsche Sprint Challenge North America race. Her lap time of 2:08.981 was just hundredths of a second slower than her quickest time from combined testing. The six laps completed by Candas was the joint-fewest of any driver in field, with the RAFA Racing Team by JDX squad preserving their tyres for the two races which followed.

Lining up side-by-side with teammate Porter at the start of race one, the RAFA Racing Team by JDX teammates held position with Candas maintaining second place. Driving her first competitive race in the Porsche Cayman GT4 RS Clubsport, Caroline knew that keeping the tyres underneath her for the full thirty-five minute race duration would be vital to a strong finish. Porter was stretching his legs at the front of the field and was slowly extending his lead, however Candas remained solidly in second position ahead of Cayman Masters class driver Matt Joffe.

Caroline’s pace was extremely consistent during the middle portion of the race as she better understood the characteristics of the car, combined with the demanding Sebring International Raceway. Into the closing stages of the race, the gap between Porter and Candas stabilised with the young French driver pushing ahead to gain back a small amount of time.

A late-race full course yellow period gave hope to Caroline that a restart was possible, however the race timer expired with Candas collecting valuable points by finishing second position. Although it was a relatively lonely race for Candas, the experience she gained was crucial in her development with the ability to bank important knowledge for later in the season.

Caroline Candas, RAFA Racing Club, Porsche Sprint Challenge North America, Sebring 2024
Photo credits: Porsche North America

Race two initially began under the safety car with damp track conditions following overnight rain. Candas again started from second and was able to stay in closer contact with Porter on the opening lap, remaining within six tenths of a second of her teammate at the conclusion of lap one. Caroline’s RAFA Racing Team by JDX rival then started to extend his lead, before the young French driver responded on lap four by matching his lap time.

As the damp patches of the track slowly cleared, the pace out front was similar to that of race one with Candas setting a personal best time on lap six and then again on lap nine. With the race entering the closing stages, Caroline’s second position looked secure until a late full course yellow period led to a one-lap shootout. This allowed Candas to challenge Porter for the race win, however Cayman Pro/Am rival Tillman Schmid was right on her tail.

The top-three drivers all made good restarts and positions were closely contested on an exciting final lap which saw Candas defending successfully from Schmid into the final corner. Collecting her second runner-up finish of the weekend, it was an excellent start to the season for the RAFA Racing Club Shootout winner.

Caroline experienced a smooth introduction to Porsche Sprint Challenge North America competition and banked valuable championship points across the weekend. Although a maiden victory eluded Candas, the speed she showed across both qualifying and the races will encourage her as she takes an exciting step in her racing career.

The next round of the championship will be a particularly special one for Caroline as the Porsche Sprint Challenge North America drivers will support the NTT IndyCar Series at Barber Motorsports Park in Alabama on the weekend of 27th/28th April.



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