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  • Writer's pictureRACERS

Samantha Tan makes strong GT4 Europe debut with fourth place in Spa

After winning in the SP8T class at the Nürburgring, Samantha Tan returned to the BMW M4 GT4 for her debut in the GT4 European Championship, where she and her teammate Jon Miller secured a notable fourth place finish in race 2 among 57 GT4 entries, showing a big progression over the weekend at Spa Francorchamps.

Samantha Tan, ST Racing BMW M4 GT4, GT4 European Championship, 2024 Spa Francorchamps
Photo credits: SRO/JEP

A week after a class victory at the Nürburgring Nordschleife in the SP8T class at the NLS3 round, Samantha Tan was back in a BMW M4 GT4, this time for another challenge: her first appearance in the uber-competitive GT4 European Championship.

Tan, who shared the car with long-time teammate Jon Miller, made significant progress over the weekend at Spa Francorchamps, eventually claiming a highly positive fourth place finish in race 2, having shown great pace on Saturday's contest, in support of the centenary edition of the 24 Hours of Spa.

The Canadian driver/owner of the #38 ST Racing BMW has in fact raced in two editions of the biggest GT race on the planet, and this year she tackled the 57-car GT4 field, in arguably one of the most competitive series for the GT4 platform globally.

Tan - whose main program is in GT3 in the GT World Challenge America - has in fact entered select races in GT4 in 2024, including a GT America appearance at Long Beach and the third NLS round.

Her weekend was off to a promising start, with the ST Racing BMW placing solidly in the top ten in the ProAm class in the pre-event testing. The progress continued with the seventh fastest time in class in the official Practice session, where Miller set a 2:30.126 lap, 2.6 seconds from the overall pace setters.

Samantha Tan, ST Racing BMW M4 GT4, GT4 European Championship, 2024 Spa Francorchamps
Photo credits: SRO/JEP

On Friday morning, Jon Miller took the wheel of the ST Racing BMW for the first qualifying session: he secured 16th place in the ProAm class and 40th overall with a lap time of 2:28.861.

Samantha Tan took over for Q2, showing a strong performance. Her first lap was only a second slower than Jon Miller's best, positioning her 7th in the ProAm class, before the session was interrupted by a red flag due to Machado's Aston Martin crash with 8 minutes remaining. As the session resumed, she would finish 8th in ProAm with a lap time of 2:29.537, in what was a commendable effort for the Canadian racer.

The first race took place in the scenic setting of a sunset over the Ardennes; Jon Miller started the race for ST Racing from P16 in class.

When the green flag fell, Miller managed to advance one position in class, although he then fell back to 16th in ProAm and 40th overall after the first lap.

However, he steadily improved and picked up a few positions overall in the following laps, closing in on the #300 Speedcar Audi R8 driven by Van Dooren. Miller's time improved at every lap and, by maintaining a pace half a second faster than his competitor, he kept close behind Van Dooren, looking for an opportunity to pass.

A collision between the #300 Audi and the #56 Ginetta just ahead of Miller brought out the first Full Course Yellow of the race: Miller expertly navigated through the incident, gaining several positions and moving up to 14th in class just before the race was neutralized.

The safety car came in on lap 12 to bunch up the field, and the pit window opened: Jon, still in P14, completed a solid stint before pitting on lap 13, with Samantha Tan then taking over the #38 ST Racing BMW M4 GT4. She emerged in P14 in class.

The start of her stint was a bit troubled, as she was caught by a group of cars and fell to 17th in class. But Tan fought back and, as her pace improved, she overtook the Nova Racing Porsche on lap 19 and then Rafa Martinez's McLaren on the next lap, climbing back into the top-15.

Finding her rhythm towards the end, Samantha Tan finished 14th in ProAm in her debut GT4 European Championship race; while the car seemed struggling for pace, it was still a solid first run for the duo, who would be aiming to climb the field on Saturday.

Samantha Tan, ST Racing BMW M4 GT4, GT4 European Championship, 2024 Spa Francorchamps
Photo credits: SRO/JEP

Under cloudy skies but on a dry track, Samantha Tan started the second race of the weekend from eighth in ProAm class. Most of the almost 60 cars navigated the tricky La Source hairpin without incident, although a crash involving Florent Grizaud's Aston Martin brought out the safety car on the first lap. Tan defended her position well, holding on to 10th in class, just ahead of Cindy Gudet.

The Team Speedcar Audi took the early lead, followed by the Toyota Supra of Etienne Cheli and pole sitter Tom Lebbon, who dropped to third after a rough start. As the race resumed at the end of the second lap, Cheli moved into the lead following a slow restart by race leader Consani.

Samantha Tan quickly found her pace, running competitive lap times in the ProAm class - in a significantly improved performance from the previous day. On lap 5, she set the fastest time among all ProAm drivers with a 2:30.621, pushing her way through the midfield of one of the most tightly-contested fields globally.

Tan continued to chip away at the competition, catching the #39 Silver-entry Aston Martin and a group of ProAm cars just before another full course yellow was deployed for the stricken #16 NM Motorsport Mercedes in the gravel at Stavelot.

As the race restarted with 30 minutes remaining, the pit window opened. Tan stayed out and gained a position at the restart, moving up to ninth. After an impressive stint, she pitted on lap 11, handing over to Jon Miller for the final 27 minutes of the race.

Another full course yellow followed due to an accident involving the #96 Lotus Emira; Miller had rejoined the race in P11, and moved up to P8 once the pit cycle was completed, just before the next caution.

After a clean restart, Miller chased down Ethan Gialdini's Ginetta for eighth in class, securing a safe gap to the car behind. Both gained a position and, on the final lap, Miller overtook Gialdini and crossed the finish line in sixth place in ProAm. Post-race penalties promoted the team to fourth, concluding a highly positive debut for ST Racing in the GT4 European Championship.

"First race was awful but today we made up for it - P4 in Pro Am at the checkered with Jon Miller!", Samantha commented. "Should have been a P3 because the car ahead passed 3 cars under safety car", she added. "It was the biggest GT4 field I’ve ever been in with 57 cars, and it was definitely a fun challenge."

Tan will be back in her BMW M4 GT3 car for the fourth round of the GT World Challenge America series, from 19-21 July at VIRginia International Raceway.



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