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  • Writer's pictureLIAM REDFORD

Podium finish for Caroline Candas at Barber Motorsports Park

Caroline Candas maintained her excellent start to her debut season in Porsche Sprint Challenge North America: a podium result in race one, coupled with a fourth-place finish in race two, allows the RAFA Racing Team driver to retain second position in the championship standings.


Caroline Candas, Porsche Cup Sprint Challenge North America, RAFA Racing Club, Porsche Cayman GT4, 2024 Barber Motorsports Park
Photo credits: Kyle Schwab / Porsche North America

Caroline Candas maintained her excellent start to her debut season in Porsche Sprint Challenge North America by securing a podium finish at Barber Motorsports Park. A third-place qualifying effort was matched with a third-place finish in race one, with the RAFA Racing Team by JDX driver delivering consistent performances. Finishing fourth in race two, Candas leaves Alabama second place in the overall championship standings.


Arriving at Barber Motorsports Park for the second round of the Porsche Sprint Challenge North America championship, Candas was looking to continue her superb start to the season. In her series debut at Sebring International Raceway, Caroline secured a pair of runner-up finishes and was now searching for her maiden victory. The weekend held greater significance for the young French driver, with the championship running alongside the NTT IndyCar Series, providing extra publicity in her first campaign stateside.


The race weekend began with two free practice sessions ahead of qualifying, with the first taking place on Friday morning. It was a great opening session at Barber Motorsports Park for Candas who finished the session second in class, just two tenths of a second behind RAFA Racing Team by JDX teammate Ian Porter. The margins were also tight in session two, with Caroline finishing third overall by a margin of three tenths of a second to the pacesetter Chloe Chambers.


Qualifying was held on Saturday morning and was another close session as the Cayman Pro/Am drivers fought for pole position. Candas showed particularly strong pace through the middle sector in her initial runs and this saw her hold down fourth position at the halfway point. Following a final late run, Caroline found crucial gains in sector one and this clinched her a second row starting spot while moving ahead of Nick Shaeffer and into third position.


Prior to the start of race one, Candas was promoted to line up second following a technical issue for teammate Ian Porter which saw him begin the first race from the rear of the field. Therefore, the potential was there for Caroline to gain valuable championship points on her rival. Initially holding second position at the start, Nick Shaeffer took the runner-up position away with a late-braking manoeuvre into the turn five hairpin.


Settling into third position, Candas remained in close contention with both Shaeffer and leader Chloe Chambers. Her times through sectors two and three were comparable to the leaders, setting an overall best in the middle sector on lap two. As the race approached halfway, Candas had dropped three seconds behind the two leaders but with Shaeffer and Chambers beginning to battle, this would give her a chance to close the gap.


At this point, Candas had a sizeable gap behind her but this changed on lap 14 when the safety car was called for after an incident left RAFA Racing Team by JDX teammate Paige Morales stranded on-track. With a hard-charging drive through the field, Porter was now behind for the restart and he found a way through on lap 17.


Nonetheless, Caroline remained in a podium position as Shaeffer had a single-car spin on the restart. Porter’s speed remained a little too strong for Candas in the closing stages, however she secured third position to maintain a perfect run of podium finishes to open her stateside campaign.


Caroline Candas, Porsche Cup Sprint Challenge North America, RAFA Racing Club, Porsche Cayman GT4, 2024 Barber Motorsports Park
Photo credits: Kyle Schwab / Porsche North America

Race two of the weekend took place on Sunday afternoon, directly following the conclusion of the NTT IndyCar Series event. Based on second fastest times set in qualifying, Candas lined up fourth on the grid. Making a clean start, Caroline held position and took a watching brief as Porter and Shaeffer fought hard for the runner-up position. In the early stages, the top-three drivers, led by Chambers, edged away from Candas, however there was the potential for opportunities to fall her way later in the race.


On lap six, the RAFA Racing Team by JDX driver set a new personal best time and this was faster than race leader Chambers. As a result, Caroline was able to stabilise the gap to the leaders during this portion of the race. For Candas to fight for a podium position, improvements within sector one would be vital and following a best sector on lap ten, Porter was in her sights as a mistake from her teammate had moved Shaeffer into second.


As Candas set about chasing Porter and Shaeffer ahead, she set consecutive fastest final sectors of the entire race on both laps 13 and 14. This was followed by a significant personal best overall time on lap 15, just hundredths of a second away from the best lap set by leader Chambers. As lapped traffic began to play its part in the closing stages, the top-three drivers began to break away once again with Candas taking the checkered flag in fourth position to bank vital points for the championship.


Caroline maximised her potential at Barber Motorsports Park where she learnt a challenging new circuit. A podium result in race one was a great reward and coupled with a fourth-place finish in race two, this allows Candas to retain second position in the championship standings.


Her first victory is on the horizon and Caroline will be looking to achieve this breakthrough result when the Porsche Sprint Challenge North America drivers compete at Circuit of the Americas, the site of her shootout victory, on the weekend of 25th/26th May.

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