Samantha Tan claims first GTWC Europe class podium at 1000km of Paul Ricard
Samantha Tan broke a streak of bad luck and secured her first class podium in GT World Challenge Europe, with a second place at the 1000km of Paul Ricard - as she gears up to debut the Ferrari 296 GT3 at the upcoming 24H of Spa.
Samantha Tan and her ST Racing team capitalized on their pace at the 1000km of Paul Ricard, second round of the GT World Challenge Europe Endurance Cup, securing a second place in the ProAm category which also represented Tan's first podium in SRO Europe.
The Canadian driver/owner in fact had a heartbreaking start of the season at Monza, where she was hit and sent into the wall at the race start before making it to the first chicane.
Her podium at the 6-hour French race is also a deserved break from an unlucky streak that saw Tan and her teammates missing out on podiums and even victories in GT World Challenge America, where the young driver continues to contest a program with her BMW M4 GT3.
In a partnership with Rinaldi Racing, Tan is entering her first season with Ferrari machinery - but alongside teammates Jon Miller and Isaac Tutumlu Lopez, Samantha is showing good progress after a limited track time in pre-season testing at Le Castellet due to technical issues, as well as the Monza curtain-raiser.
Increasingly comfortable at the helm of the #38 Ferrari 488 GT3, Tan and her teammates made the most out of a tricky race in the South of France.
Isaac Tutumlu Lopez was behind the wheel for the first qualifying session: the Spaniard set the third time in Q1 in the ProAm class, with a 1:55.802 lap.
2021 24H Series champion Samantha Tan was up next; while still learning the car, Samantha was fourth fastest in class, before Jon Miller took over in the final 15 minute session and clocked a 1:55.347 that was enough for second in ProAm, behind the #78 Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini of Dennis Lind who eventually scored pole position.
In the combined result, Samantha Tan Racing slotted in third place in class and would therefore start from the 49th place overall.
Jon Miller was the elected driver to take the start - and the opening stages of the race would be no easy task, among the almost 60 car field.
Chaos reigned in the midfield and Miller was sent into a spin by the #56 Dinamic GT Huber Racing Porsche, which will then receive a 5 second time penalty for causing the collision. Miller had dropped to the tail end of the pack, as the Safety car was deployed.
The ProAm field, though, remained very close, with the top four covered by barely 4 seconds.
After the first round of pit stops one hour into the race, Jon Miller had gained back third in class. Samantha Tan took over the #38 Ferrari midway through the second hour, re-emerging in third place in ProAm - just as the sun was starting to set over the horizon. More teams pitted at the second hour mark, and Tan continued to clock steady laps.
After going off sequence with their strategy, Samantha Tan was up into second place after the third pit stop, as the Canadian reached her running time flawlessly. Having completed a very strong double stint, Tan handed over to Isaac Tutumlu Lopez for the night shift, as the team retained second in ProAm.
While solidly in second place, Tutumlu Lopez received a 5 second penalty for track limits; the Samantha Tan Racing team, though, could count on a 20 second margin to the ProAm third placed #2 GetSpeed Mercedes. Tutumlu Lopez served the penalty at the final pit stop and retained second, behind the Car Collection Motorsport Porsche of Alex Fontana, Ivan Jacoma and Niki Leutwiler.
At the end of a thrilling and action-packed 1000km of Paul Ricard, there was finally redemption for Samantha Tan Racing: a confident run to second place in class puts the Canadian team back in the fight for the ProAm championship.
"We got the podium!" - Tan wrote. "Been fighting with bad luck the past few months but we’ve broken the streak and brought home a trophy! Even after we got spun at the start, which put us in last, we had a great recovery drive to P2."
Samantha Tan will be back Stateside for the fourth double header of GT World Challenge America, before making another trip to Europe for the biggest GT3 race in the world: the 24 Hours of Spa. Tan - who entered the race for the first time last year - will also make her debut at the wheel of the Ferrari 296 GT3, which she first drove at the collective test last week.