April 18, 2022.- Samantha Tan Racing completed its first GT World Challenge America weekend of 2022 with two top five finishes in-class at Sonoma Raceway, the second of which was the result of a storming recovery drive from the back.
The 2022 GT World Challenge America season-opener marked ST Racing’s first SRO-affiliated race start with the Canadian team’s new BMW M4 GT3. All signs pointed towards a strong Sonoma weekend for team co-owner Samantha Tan and ST Racing stalwart Nick Wittmer when the #38 M4 GT3, which last month secured its maiden competition victory in Mugello, set benchmark times in the PRO-AM category during Free Practice.
Admittedly, changeable weather conditions on Friday meant ST Racing was unable to qualify as competitively as anticipated, though the BMW’s pace was showcased from the get-go. From 13th on the grid, Samantha had already moved up two places by the second corner after a scintillating start, and a third by the end of the first lap. Metronomic pace and typically rapid work from the experienced ST Racing pit crew meant that, following the race’s obligatory pit stop, Nick was able to run a controlled race thereafter and secure an overall top 10 finish and 5th in the PRO-AM class.
The start of race two proved equally as fighting, with Nick moving up three positions in short order on the first lap only for an assisted off-track moment to drop the Canadian back down the order. Aided by BMW’s legendary build quality, a determined Nick Wittmer was quickly back on the tail of the field and already moving through the ranks come race two’s obligatory pit stop. A strategic decision to do an undercut and bring the car in as soon as the pit window opened meant Samantha was able to push unhindered and charge through the field across her final stint of the weekend and secure a hard-earned 8th overall – a 12-place gain from lap one – and 4th in-class, barely two seconds off the category podium.
Though setbacks during qualifying – qualifying in the rain on a dry setup – ultimately left the team with more work than anticipated across Saturday and Sunday, ST Racing can nevertheless be proud of a productive first weekend of its PRO-AM championship assault.
Kenneth Tan, team principal: “It was like Dubai all over again but a little worse; the car arrived just in time with no test data, we were missing spare parts, and it rained on the only test day we had. The crew once again did an amazing job setting the car up given the dearth of data we had. Nick and Sam drove brilliantly given the sub-optimal setup we had for the car. Thus, finishing P5 in class and P10 overall on Saturday’s race and then improving to P4 in class and P8 overall during Sunday’s race was pretty good. Sam did an amazing job in moving us up 7 positions on Saturday and 12 positions on Sunday. She really upped her game and the team will do just that for the next race. I am very encouraged and excited to see how much more we improve in the future. Can’t wait!”
Samantha Tan, co-owner/driver: “We had a rainy qualifying session but our team had gambled on a dry setup for the car. The moment I got in the car, it started pouring rain. Luckily we had time to put rain tires on, but both sessions were not ideal. I qualified 15th and Nick qualified 18th. However, we knew we had a strong dry setup, and the weather looked good for both races! I started race 1 and managed to make up 3 positions on the opening lap before I handed the car off to Nick, who brought the car home 10th overall and P5 in class! Nick started race 2 in P18 and also made up 3 positions on the opening lap before being pushed off track in the chicane, sending us down into last place. The team decided to pit right when the window opened and put me in the car, and I drove my heart out – I made up 12 positions to P8 overall and P4 in class, only 2 seconds away from a podium! The team put together a great car and we gained a lot of valuable experience that we will bring to the next round. Overall, a good start to the SRO season with some championship points!”
Nick Wittmer, driver: “Race 2 was definitely Sam’s race! It was a good start, going from P18 to P15 in the opening few corners until I was pushed off track in the chicane. From then on, my job was to keep the car clean. We were stagnant in the position we were in, so the team decided to pull me in as soon as the pit window was open to put Sam in the car for more track time and to get some passing done while the other teams were doing their pit stops. She gained around 5 positions during the pit stops and I believe 5 positions on track, she did an excellent job and without her wheeling the car up the order, we wouldn’t have finished where we did today! Huge thank you to Samantha and the team, she definitely got the job done today.”
Round two of the 2022 GT World Challenge America takes ST Racing to the Ozarks International Raceway in Missouri on 20-22 May.