Two poles and a win for Samantha Tan at Ferrari Challenge debut
Samantha Tan made a striking debut in the Ferrari Challenge North America, conquering two pole positions and a race win at Circuit of the Americas.
Samantha Tan's 2022 season is going to be a busy one, but has already started with some memorable achievements.
The 23-year-old Canadian, reigning champion in the 24H Series in both the drivers and teams' standings at her maiden international campaign, has moved to GT3 platform with her own Samantha Tan Racing - as the family owned outfit is significantly expanding its operations and establishing itself in the competitive world of endurance racing.
Tan will return to the Creventic's 24H Series - this time in the GT3 class - as well as in the GT World Challenge America, after the young woman from Ontario contested a few campaigns in the GT4 America championship.
In a last minute move, Tan announced her entry also in the Ferrari Challenge North America, joining forces with Ferrari of Tampa Bay: she will drive the #8 dark-red Ferrari 488 GT3 Cup starting from the season opener at Circuit of the Americas, Austin, home of the USGP.
Tan thus took a break from endurance racing to venture into sprint races - a move that could also further develop some of the skills useful in her other racing programmes. At her first outing in the car, Samantha took an outstanding pole position on Saturday, beating the lap record for the ProAm class. As part of the Pirelli Trophy, she qualified in P10 overall.
At lights out, unfortunately, Tan was hit at the first corner and dropped to the tail end of the pack, victim of some aggressive moves from the crowded Pro and ProAm fields.
Overall poleman Franco led Chen and Kurzejewski, while Todd Coleman inherited Samantha's leadership in ProAm, ahead of Caiola and Fauvre - separated by a few Pro entries in between.
Kurzejewski was soon out of the race after contact with Burrowes, who dived on the inside and hit the former, forced to pit with significant bodywork damage.
Samantha Tan, meanwhile, was trying to charge through the field and passed Cervini for P9 in ProAm, before she attempted another pass with an aggressive move on Millstein.
Amidst huge battles for the overall podium, Muzzo moved into third and left Burrowes and McCarthy fighting with Perrina - who could gain fifth place.
The race was then neutralized with a Full Course Yellow when Zekelman hit the barriers hard with 12 minutes to go.
A group of four cars battled for sixth to ninth in ProAm - and gave Samantha Tan the chance to join this train of cars.
Great racing action continued until the chequered flag, when both class leaders won unchallenged across the finish line; Muzzo was second and Perrina third in the Pro and overall category. The latter was able to complete a remarkable progression and passed Chen on the final lap of the race to step on the podium.
Todd Coleman won in the ProAm class, 14 seconds clear of Cairola. Fauvre edged Musial and Toledo for the final step of the podium on the final laps.
Samantha Tan managed to get ahead of Millstein and Cook and was seventh in class after the first lap tangle.
While certainly disappointing after her pole position, Tan had the speed to do it all again on Sunday - and she did deliver. With another pole position in ProAm, Samantha led Fauvre by 0.014 seconds and was further two tenths faster than Musial Jr who qualified in third.
Tan had a cleaner start, but the 25-car field of the Pirelli Trophy meant that more cars made contact and went off in the opening lap of Race 2: Saturday's winner Todd Coleman hit the barriers and the #22 entry of Kurzejewski also spun at the esses.Franco led McCarthy and Muzzo overall, while Caiola had managed to snatch the ProAm leadership, ahead of Fauvre and Samantha Tan at the end of the first lap.
Millstein overtook Tan for third place on lap 3, as the top-four remained at striking distance. It all quickly changed when class leader Caiola spun at Turn 11, forcing Fauvre to basically stop on track. Tan's reaction was perfect and she found a way past everyone on lap 4.
The Canadian pulled away and started to hunt down the Pro entries for the Top10 overall.
Behind her, though, a big battle for the podium ended in tears for Fauvre and Millstein, hit by the former on lap 6. A Full Course Yellow was deployed when Bergeron also spun on the same lap. It was bad news for Samantha, who saw her big gap deleted.
At the restart, she retained the class lead from Musial, Toledo and Cairola. Not as lucky were Franco and McCarthy, who respectively dropped to fourth and third when the race went back to green. With 8 minutes to go, Muzzo reacted perfectly at the restart and fired into the overall lead, ahead of Rubbo and McCarthy.
A battle for second in ProAm meant that Toledo got by Musial - and gave Samantha Tan another chance to break away and resume her chase of Pro entry Horejsi - who she successfully overtook with three minutes to go, putting a car between her and her class rival in second.
Coleman and Musial tangled on lap 11 but the race continued with local yellows; Muzzo won from Rubbo and McCarthy in in the Pro category, while Samantha Tan was an impressive first in her series debut in ProAm.
"After yesterday's highs and lows, it's finally great to be able to redeem myself and come home with a victory" - said Tan just after the race. "There were a lot of tough battles out there, but I kept it clean and I brought home a win!"
In an impressive series debut, Tan conquered two pole positions and a race win, collecting plenty of experience in the 488 GT3 Cup ahead of the next round at Daytona International Speedway on 08-10 April.
Samantha, though, will return to the track at the Mugello 12H, second round of the 24H Series, where she will jump back in the seat of the #1 BMW M4 GT3.