Samantha Tan Racing continued its winning ways in 2023 with a maiden victory for its new Ferrari 296 GT3 at the GT World Challenge Europe Endurance Cup season finale in Barcelona.
Alongside an unbroken run of top two finishes in GT World Challenge America, Samantha Tan Racing, together with technical partner Rinaldi Racing, already had two Pro-Am class podiums with the #38 Ferrari 296 GT3 to its name this season at Paul Ricard and the Nürburgring. A streak that team co-owner Samantha Tan, and teammates Isaac Tutumlu Lopez and Lorcan Hanafin extended with a commanding run to Pro-Am victory at the 3 Hours of Barcelona.
No stranger to success at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya (the Canadian team took a class win on its first race at the venue in 2021), ST Racing got its Catalan weekend off to an authoritative start with Pro-Am class pole position and 38th on the overall grid. Indeed, such was the pace of the Rinaldi-prepared Ferrari, Lorcan Hanafin was one of only two Pro-Am drivers to dip the 1m 40s mark in qualifying.
Samantha carried this momentum into the race itself the following day, retaining her class lead amidst a frenzied mid-pack that saw the Pro-Am frontrunners shuffled back at the start of the three-hour event. One hour in, and now at the wheel of the prancing horse, Isaac preserved the 10-second-plus gap Samantha had built over the first stint, and moved up the field to 36th during the opening round of mandatory pit stops. A quick but cautious final stint from European Le Mans Series LMGTE contender Lorcan Hanafin on his first event with ST Racing – albeit one blemished by a succession of full-course cautions – ensued the #38 retained an unbroken Pro-Am lead all the way to the chequered flag.
Capping off an impressive weekend, Lorcan also posted the fastest Pro-Am lap of the whole event – a 1m 41.738s – and 32nd on the road equals the #38 Ferrari’s best overall finish of the season.
The result also moves Samantha Tan Racing to 3rd in the GT World Challenge Europe Endurance Cup Pro-Am Teams’ standings in its maiden season, with Samantha and Isaac similarly climbing the ladder in the Pro-Am Drivers’ standings. But for a blameless early exit from the season opener at Monza, ST Racing with Rinaldi might well have challenged for the Pro-Am Teams’ and Drivers’ vice-championships in 2023 having only missed it by 4 points. Everyone at the team would however like to congratulate new Pro-Am champion Car Collection Motorsport after a hard-fought season.
Kenneth Tan, Team Principal / co-owner: “I am so pleased and elated with the evolution of our Ferrari 296 GT3 since taking delivery and the development efforts from both the factory in Maranello and Rinaldi Racing. I am convinced we have not fully tapped the potential of this new car and can only expect it to get better in 2024. I am of course very happy with our performance in Barcelona and leading our class from start to finish as well as having one of the fastest laps during the race. Samantha did an outstanding job managing traffic starting P38. I had thought that was a good omen as it matched our car number 38. There were some close calls at the start but skillfully avoided them hitting us. Isaac continued that through his stint but had a scare with him being hit from behind by another aggressive car. Finally, Lorcan brought it home and logged one of the fastest laps during the race. The crew was on point and had the fastest times in both pitstops which allowed us to extend our lead each time the car came in. I want to give a heartfelt thank you to the Rinaldi crew for an outstanding performance this weekend and this season as well as Ferrari for their full support. We felt their love! The season was full of ups and downs with that first lap crash abruptly ending our first race and then here winning our class during the last race. I can’t wait to see what this car can do in 2024. Forza Ferrari!”
Samantha Tan, driver / co-owner: “P1 in Pro-Am at the GTWC Europe Endurance Cup season finale in Barcelona! What a great way to end the season with Rinaldi Racing. My first win in GTWC EU and we finished third in the driver’s championship – Just four points behind second! It was challenging for me to learn a whole new platform this year but I’m grateful for the experiences. Mega job this weekend by Isaac and Lorcan, it was amazing getting to work with and learn from both of you! A special shoutout to Jon for being there in spirit. Finally, I’d like to give a huge thank you to Rinaldi Racing for all their hard work throughout the season and Michele for always pushing me to aim high!”
Isaac Tutumlu Lopez, driver: “It’s been an amazing weekend, the car felt great from the beginning and it was really nice to drive. ST Racing with Rinaldi gave us a rocketship! We proved the speed of the car in qualifying by taking our first Pro-Am class pole position of the year and we maintained that position all the way through until the chequered flag. We were aiming to win all season and we finally got it in our last race. We look forward to continuing this success in 2024!”
Lorcan Hanafin, driver: “What a fantastic weekend! There were a lot of new things for me including car, tyres and championship and to come away with a victory is a fantastic result for the team! Samantha and Isaac drove incredibly all weekend so a victory was well deserved! Thank you to ST Racing with Rinaldi for an amazing weekend. I’m already looking forward to the next one!”
Samantha Tan Racing is set to bring its 2023 program to a close at this coming weekend’s Indianapolis 8 Hours at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on 5-6-7 October, where Samantha will once again be in action aboard her team’s BMW M4 GT3 alongside Neil Verhagen and Jake Walker.