Front row start for Samantha Tan at 12H of Mugello
After a remarkable Friday, Samantha Tan and her ST Racing team qualified the new #1 BMW M4 GT3 in second place overall for tomorrow's 12H of Mugello. TCR front-runner Jasmin Preisig had a strong run in the #116 Wolf-Power Racing Audi RS3 and brought her team up to third place in class after Q3.
In a sunny and warm Tuscany, the first day of the CREVENTIC’s European season turned out to be a really positive day for the women of the 24H Series, ahead of tomorrow’s first part of the 12H of Mugello.
After a learning first round in Dubai, where everyone got acclimatised to the brand-new BMW M4 GT3 machine, the reigning champion team Samantha Tan Racing showed their potential on Friday at Mugello, where driver/owner Samantha Tan, Bryson Morris and Nick Wittmer were a consistent presence at the top of the standings. With second place in practice, the team battled for GT3 and overall pole position on Friday afternoon, when the sun set over the scenic Autodromo del Mugello.
Tan got behind the wheel of the beautifully-liveried BMW for the first 10-minute session, finishing second overall with a 1:49.883 lap. It was then Bryson Morris’ turn to qualify the #1 car: in the second session, the talented American youngster was again second, having briefly led the times in the opening minutes.
In Q3, Nick Wittmer took over the reins of the ST Racing GT3 Pro-Am entry and again put slotted in second place, just 0.188 seconds adrift the pole winner #18 Phoenix Racing Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo2 of Doppelmayr-Kaffer-Erhart-Herberger, in a strong 30-car field in the GTE division.
With a combined average lap time of 1:48.728, Samantha Tan and her teammates will therefore start tomorrow’s 12 Hours of Mugello on the overall front row of the grid.
“The weekend started out a bit rocky – we had some issues with the car that we sorted out during free practice”, Samantha told us after qualifying. “But we got that sorted out and obviously today we showed the pace in qualifying.”
“All our drivers – including myself – have not been here in this car”, continued the young Canadian. “The new car basically finished Dubai and came here, so we didn’t get to test at all, but the team gave us a very competitive car and I think we showed great pace today! I’m very very proud of us”
Last year, at her first ever international campaign in endurance racing, Samantha Tan was second at Mugello in the GT4 class. She went on to claim the overall drivers and teams titles, as well as the GT4 crown. Having switched to GT3 machinery this year, she’s aiming for the overall victory.
“It’s a very long race, it’s a 12 hour race and we will try to keep it clean, hopefully we will have no mechanical issues and we can bring it back on top!”
In the GT3 class, Corinna Gostner had a positive practice session in the #58 MP Racing’s Mercedes AMG which she shares with her father Thomas, her brother David and the Gostner family’s driver coach – and fresh Sebring 12H winner – Giorgio Sernagiotto.
Sernagiotto was fourth overall in the final qualifying session and, combining the results with David and Thomas’ previous runs, the bright green MP Racing’s Mercedes will start from the 11th place overall tomorrow, fifth in GT3 Am.
Behind ST Racing, the #25 Mann-Filter Team Landgraf Mercedes AMG GT3 driven by Hrachowina-Konrad-Schneider and the Porsche 911 GT3 R by German powerhouse Herberth Motorsport (Allemann-Bohn-Renauer-Renauer) will share the second row of the grid.
In the TCE division, Swiss racer Jasmin Preisig was the protagonist of the TCR category in the #116 Wolf Power Racing’s Audi RS3 LMS TCR.
Preisig – who scored two wins and two secodn places in TCR last year – moved from the VW Golf TCR car to the Audi RS3 machine, but once again proved her speed and remained in the top-three throughout Friday.
Teammates Menden and Vallers qualified in seventh and fifth in the first two sessions, while Preisig started her pole position assault in Q3; she was the fastest of the crew by over two seconds and brought the #116 entry to third place on the grid.
Last year, an unfortunate crash by one of her co-drivers ruled her team out of the entire weekend, but now Jasmin Preisig is looking confident of a potential podium on the 5.245 km Italian track.
The #159 Cupra Leon by Spanish team Monlau Competicion took pole position in TCE, ahead of the #104 VW Golf GTI TCR of Noker Racing Team and Preisig’s #116 Audi.
The first part of the 12 Hours of Mugello is set to start at 13:00 local time and end at 18:30. The second part will get underway on Sunday morning at 09:00.