Saturday was a busy day, for the Touring Car class, starting with a morning qualifying session where ST Racing teammates, Nick Wittmer and Samantha Tan qualified fourth and 25th respectively for the first race of the weekend. Then, they were off to a 45-minute autograph session, before rushing to get back into the car for the first race of the day.
Race 1 was run at noontime, in scorching 98-degree heat, yielding a very hot track.
On Lap 1, a multi-car incident in Turn One took four cars out of the lineup causing other cars to go off-track to avoid the pile up. At that point, Nick Wittmer’s BMW M235iR lost two positions while Samantha Tan and her #38 GPI-Motul BMW machine managed to gain five positions just before the full course yellow flag dropped. The race ran four laps under yellow to get the track cleaned up before going green again.
Both ST Racing drivers had a great re-start and worked hard throughout the race to fight for position and keep the cars cool. Unfortunately the heat came into play, and Tan finished in 23rd place while Wittmer managed to keep his ninth position.
“The re-start was good for me” said Tan, “I was passing cars, and I was on my way to pass another car in the last 10 minutes, but unfortunately my car overheated and I went into limp mode. I had to stop on the side of the track, and it broke my heart to have to let that car go by. I had to re-start my car completely to get it going again. Luckily, I finished the race, but on a sad note.”
Teammate Nick Wittmer experienced the same problem with the heat. “Everything was great until the weather decided to get really hot” stated the Montreal native. “And, that caused our engines to run a little high in heat, and at 250 degrees, it went to safe mode, and then went to cooled air. It was just too hot out there, so we stayed in safe mode, finished the race, and collected points.. We will look for better results in the next race. The whole team worked so hard in this heat to prepare the cars.”
A few hours later, Race 2 was underway with yet another wild incident in Turn One just after the green flag. Cars piled into one another, and a full-course caution was brought out. Canadian driver Samantha Tan had a great start, but the incident caused her to get hit from behind and sadly ended her race on the first lap. A huge disappointment for the young driver and the whole ST Racing Team.
Tan’s teammate Nick Wittmer went from seventh place to third at the start of the race, and barely managed to avoid getting caught in the incident. After the re-start, Wittmer’s driving was all about protecting his third place while trying to battle for second. On lap 16, the Montreal native made his move on Aristotle Baloh’s #19 BMW M235iR and captured second place, with just a few minutes left in the race.
Race 2 Driver quotes:
Samantha Tan (GPI-Motul-BMW M235iR #38) “I had a really great start. I passed 3 cars on the start. But, coming into Turn One though, someone had hit Tony Rivera and he was facing us, at mid-corner. I actually made it past the incident, but someone hit Rivera right into me. I tried to continue, but both my left tires were punctured. I was out of the race right away. It’s unfortunate because the Team worked so hard to give me a good car for the race.”
Nick Wittmer (GPI-Motul-BMW M235iR #91) “ I need to thank ST Racing. In the first race today, we had heating issues with the cars, and in a very short turn-around before the second race, the whole crew worked unbelievably hard to resolve the heat issues and they got the cars ready in time. In this race, my BMW was immaculate. It ran perfectly and I can’t thank the guys enough. They did a great job. We got another podium and more championship points.”
This weekend’s TC rounds will be broadcast on CBS Sports Network, premiering Wednesday August 23, 2017, at 8:00 pm EDT.
Be sure to join us for the Pirelli World Challenge’s next official race on September’s Labour Day weekend at the Circuit of the Americas in Texas.
Samantha Tan’s race fans can follow her on samanthatanracing.com, Instagram
(@samanthatan_racing) (samanthaatan), Facebook (STRSamantha) and on Twitter (@STR_Samantha).
About ST Racing:
ST Racing was officially launched last October (2016). A Team of experienced guys was put together for this year’s 2017 Pirelli World Challenge season. Both ST Racing drivers, Samantha Tan and Nick Wittmer are driving a new car, the BMW M235iR in the TC class. Kenneth Tan is the Team Principal, Ben Distaulo the team manager, and Alex Dupré, team engineer. Pierre Savoy is back on board as driver coach for Samantha Tan.
About the Pirelli World Challenge
The Pirelli World Challenge is a North American auto racing series that is managed by WC Vision. The World Challenge series was born in 1990, and celebrated its 25th anniversary season in 2014. The series consists of seven driver classifications and six classes of vehicles: Grand Touring (GT), GT Cup (new for 2015 - for Porsche 991 Cup cars), GTS, Touring Car (TC), "Touring Car B-spec" (TCB) since 2012, and "Touring Car A" (TCA), new in 2014. In 2014, a new GTA driver classification was established for professional drivers that do not make their living primarily from racing. In 2016, the Sprint X class was established: a two-driver, 60-minute sprint event with GT and GTS cars, for a total of eight classes. The purpose of the Pirelli World Challenge® Championships is to provide teams, manufacturers and aftermarket suppliers a competitive production-based race series in which to prove their products.