5 June, 2023.- Samantha Tan Racing by Rinaldi Racing moved itself back into championship contention with a convincing run to 2nd in-class at the 1000km Circuit Paul Ricard, round two of this year’s GT World Challenge Europe Endurance Cup.
Following an early end to its GTWC Europe season opener at Monza in April, ST Racing’s second round got off to a promising start when the #38 Ferrari 488 GT3 – driven by team owner Samantha Tan, fellow 2021 24H SERIES Overall GT Drivers’ champion Jon Miller, and Isaac Tutumlu Lopez – qualified 3rd fastest of the Pro-Am runners. The run, good enough for 49th on the overall grid, was banked courtesy of a 1m 55.347s from Jon, the third fastest Pro-Am lap across all three qualifying sessions. Similarly competitive times from Samantha and Isaac hinted towards the Rinaldi-prepared Ferrari’s strong pace around Circuit Paul Ricard.
Carrying his qualifying momentum into the race proper, Jon quickly moved up from 49th to 39th place overall, and 2nd in-class, during the opening laps. A mistimed pass for position by a rival however caused the #38 Ferrari to spin shortly afterwards, dropping ST Racing to the tail of the field and off the Pro-Am podium. Jon though was already back up to 3rd in Pro/Am when he handed the Ferrari over to Samantha shortly before one-third distance.
After a consistent double stint, Samantha, back at Paul Ricard for the first time since 2021, had worked her way up to 38th overall and 2nd in-class before handing the Ferrari over to Isaac for the closing night stage, the 2013 Spanish GT Champion dutifully bringing the car home without incident for the Pro/Am runners-up spot.
With standings leader Barwell Motorsport eliminated on the first lap, the result has catapulted ST Racing with Rinaldi back into Pro/Am Teams’ championship contention in the GT World Challenge Europe Endurance Cup. 2nd in-class also marks ST Racing’s best result in an endurance event since the Canadian team claimed Silver class honours at last year’s Indianapolis 8 Hours.
Samantha Tan, team co-owner/driver: “P2 at the 1000km of Paul Ricard! After a few months of bad luck, especially after Monza, we kept working hard and were finally rewarded with a podium. Rinaldi gave us a great car and we qualified P3! Jon took the start and unfortunately got hit and spun out 20 minutes in, putting us in last. Thankfully, nothing broke on the car and we had an incredible recovery drive and flawless run to the finish. We gave a proper send off to our lovely 488 GT3, as we will now be running the 296 GT3 for the remainder of the season.”
Kenneth Tan, team principal: “Finally we showed our potential. I’m very relieved, I want to thank the Rinaldi Racing team for preparing a very strong car. Looking forward to Spa in our new Ferrari 296 GT3. Forza Ferrari!”
Jon Miller, driver: “We’re thrilled with the result after a hard-fought race. We missed out on the bulk of the pre-season test here with an odd technical problem, and without any laps at Monza we’re still very much learning the 488 GT3. With not much practice time this weekend, and some of it affected by rain, I went into qualifying having to really think differently about my approach. I’m happy to report that things clicked, and even with some traffic in-front of me, I was able to set a lap that I was relatively pleased with. I found some things in the driving style of the Ferrari that helped to extract more out of the car and this peak of this tire. The Rinaldi guys executed perfect stops all night and we’re looking forward to the Spa 24 hour in the 296 GT3 up next!”
Isaac Tutumlu Lopez, driver: “It was a very good race! We knew we had a car with strong pace, I think we did a great job altogether setting the car up to be easy to drive while also making sure it was competitive over the length of a stint. Jon had a great start and Sam backed it up with a solid drive, so we were in a good position when I hopped in the car for my stint. I pushed hard during my first hour while fighting for P2 until the team told me that P3 had a problem and we had enough of a margin to bring it home safe and sound. Happy to achieve this result with the team heading into the 24 Hours of Spa!”
Samantha Tan Racing with Rinaldi continues its GTWC Europe Endurance Cup campaign on 29 June to 2 July on the North American outfit’s second stab at the legendary Spa 24 Hours. Prior to that, both ST Racing and BMW M Motorsport brand ambassador Samantha Tan will be back in GT World Challenge America action with the #38 BMW M4 GT3 on 16-17-18 June, round four of the season taking competitors to the Virginia International Raceway.