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  • Writer's pictureLIAM REDFORD

Samantha Tan achieves podium finish at the Nürburgring

Samantha Tan has achieved her second Pro-Am class podium result of the year in the GT World Challenge Europe, in a mixed-weather 3-hour contest at the Nürburgring that gained ST Racing another excellent result thanks to smart driving by all three racers.

Photo credits: SRO / Twenty One Creation / Jules Benichou

Samantha Tan has achieved her second Pro-Am class podium result of the year in the GT World Challenge Europe Endurance Cup with a third place finish at the Nürburgring. Battling challenging conditions throughout the weekend, the ST Racing with Rinaldi team comprising of Samantha, Isaac Tutumlu Lopez and Jon Miller showed excellent pace to be consistent class-frontrunners in their Ferrari 296 GT3.

Tan came within just two laps of equalling her seasons’ best result of second, however stepping onto the podium highlighted the superb team effort by all three drivers across the meeting.

Aiming to secure their best result with the new Ferrari 296 GT3, Samantha and the ST Racing with Rinaldi team headed to the Nürburgring in good spirits. Friday’s opening test sessions highlighted the progress the team had made, topping the Pro-Am class in the first session which was held in wet conditions. A fourth place result in a dry second session was backed up a second place Pro-Am finish in the bronze test session to round off an impressive Friday for ST Racing with Rinaldi.

Two further dry practice sessions were held on Saturday with a further three hours of track time available to the drivers ahead of qualifying. The ST Racing with Rinaldi trio once again showed their speed, placing second in Pro-Am in the first session, before finishing the day third with encouraging pace in pre-qualifying.

Qualifying brought extremely tough conditions with heavy rain and limited visibility with Samantha driving in the opening session. Tan drove smartly to set the fifth fastest time in the Pro-Am class while passing on valuable information to her teammates. Isaac drove in Q2 and showed great promise as track conditions remained challenging, finishing third in Pro-Am. As conditions improved slightly for Q3, Jon was able to set the fastest time for the ST Racing with Rinaldi Ferrari across the three sessions to clock the second fastest time in class. The combined qualifying results meant Samantha, Isaac and Jon would start fifth in Pro-Am ahead of the three hour contest.

Track conditions were dry ahead of the three hour race with Samantha taking the start. Tan completed a clean opening lap which was vital in a highly competitive 54 car field, holding her position in the initial exchanges. On lap four, Samantha was on the move and passed the GetSpeed Mercedes of Lance Bergstein and began to close in on the next group of drivers.

By lap ten, the ST Racing with Rinaldi driver had gained three more positions in the overall classification and was looking comfortable despite limited dry running during the weekend.

The second half of Samantha’s stint was action-packed as she enjoyed close battles with fellow bronze rated drivers, many of whom were competing in the bronze class. On lap 20, Bergstein reclaimed fourth position but Tan remained in close proximity with a podium spot still within reach. Samantha’s pace remained strong as her stint reached its conclusion, with a small off-track moment on her in-lap not detracting from what was an impressive opening portion of the race.

Photo credits: SRO / Twenty One Creation / Jules Benichou

Handing over to Isaac Tutumlu Lopez at the first stop, the Spanish driver remained fourth in the Pro-Am class as the pit cycle unfolded. Isaac had shown excellent speed during the course of this weekend and this persisted in the race, passing Andrej Lewandowski for third on lap 31, with his eyes then set on the Car Collection Motorsport Porsche of Ivan Jacoma.

On lap 40, Tutumlu Lopez moved into second and began pulling a sizeable gap over the two drivers behind. Closing the stint with a series of fast times, the ST Racing with Rinaldi Ferrari 296 GT3 remained in second as the final pitstops commenced.

Following a pit lane infringement during the first scheduled stop, the team were handed a ten-second penalty in addition to their final pitstop time which was served as Tutumlu Lopez handed over to Jon Miller. Re-joining second in Pro-Am with a 15 second gap behind him, Miller settled into his rhythm as the ST Racing with Rinaldi team had also moved up to a respectable 44th position overall.

In the closing stages, Car Collection Motorsport’s Alex Fontana began closing in and had reduced the gap to less than a second with five minutes remaining. On the penultimate lap, Fontana found a way past with Miller tucking in behind his rival to cross the line third in Pro-Am, scoring a second GT World Challenge Europe Endurance Cup podium result of the season.

It was another excellent result for ST Racing with Rinaldi as the trio secured a well-deserved third place finish at the Nürburgring. Samantha gained valuable experience in both wet and dry conditions, driving smartly in an particularly tricky qualifying session. Tan’s opening stint set up the race superbly for her teammates who did a great job to bring the Ferrari 296 GT3 across the third in Pro-Am.

"Proud of the mental comeback I had today, performance wasn’t the best but there was a lot of progress to be happy about", she wrote. "I started the race and made up a few positions, and after some great driving from my teammates, we brought home another podium."

Samantha will be looking to reach the top step of the podium at the final round of the GT World Challenge Europe Endurance Cup season which takes place at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya on the weekend of 30th September – 1st October.

Photo credits: SRO / Patrick Hecq Photography



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