The Canadian outfit traveled to the United Arab Emirates to take part in their second Dubai 24H. The team could have claimed the win in 2020, but last year’s race was cut short due to a heavy rainstorm. This time around, the weather was ideal and the team came prepared to this event knowing they could repeat their feat very well.
On Thursday prior to the race, Nick Wittmer set an impressive time of 2:08.824 during qualifying, putting the #438 at the front of the GT4 field. As per the series rules, the car qualifies, not the driver. Therefore, 23 years-old Samantha Tan was set to start the 24-hour race on Friday afternoon. After a hectic first few laps where Tan lost valuable time fighting with cars around her, there was a Code 60 caused by a fellow competitor. The team decided to bring Tan down pit lane right away for fuel. Back on track, her focus was on taking the lead back again. Thanks to several stellar stints between her and Chandler Hull, they were able to regain the lead and keep it...until the very end!
“We won the Dubai 24H!!!” said with enthusiasm Samantha Tan, driver of the #438 car. “It honestly felt like a flawless race. We spent the majority of it first in class! My co-drivers all did an incredible job. I started the race, trying to be aggressive but also having to remind myself that it’s a long race ahead and keep the car clean. There was a Code 60 right at the start, so the team decided to bring me in to top up on fuel so I could run for almost 2 hours. I did back to back stints with Chandler until it got dark, while Nick and Jon drove through the night.”
She continued saying: “I had a stellar night stint, passing many cars and putting our BMW M4 back into 1st in class. It got close with 2nd place after the halfway mark in the race, but during the last 6 hours, we all put in our best effort and gave ourselves a 3-lap lead. The car was amazing the entire race; I can’t thank my team enough for their hard work on giving us the best car and for the perfectly executed pit stops. This is my first pro win, and I’m so happy to share it with my ST Racing family. This win is for all of us, and we’re looking forward to the rest of the season!”
Nick Wittmer, who took the checkered flag, echoed Samantha’s thoughts on the flawless execution: “it was my first 24-hour race, and we won it! There were no issues at all; ST Racing did an amazing job preparing the car to run a full day.”
Jon Miller couldn’t help but reminisce on the Dubai 24H 2020: “Last year’s Dubai 24 was red-flagged for torrential rain after 7 hours, and after qualifying on pole and running up front, we came away disappointed with unfinished business. Showing up this year and replicating our pole position and strong pace, it’s incredibly satisfying for the whole team to finish the job and WIN the Dubai 24!”
For Jon, it was a team win: “the story of our race comes down to the crew executing fast pit stops for 24 hours and running a winning strategy with a BMW that was fast and easy to drive. Samantha and Chandler drove an awesome five stints, going back to back for the first 6 hours before Nick and I took over at night - and they handed us the car in P1. It takes everything and then some, with a little luck sprinkled in, to win a race like this. We’ll use it as motivation to keep pushing hard all season.”
“There’s no better way to start a new race season than winning, let alone winning a 24-hour race,” said Chandler Hull, more motivated than ever. “I am beyond grateful for the ST Racing group to have let me come along, and a huge thanks to the crew that worked their magic behind the scenes to give us a car that could fight for 24 hours. I’m looking forward to next weekend at Yas Marina for another 6 hours and can’t wait to keep this momentum up for the rest of the season.”
Kenneth Tan, Samantha Tan’s father, and Team Principal, only had good things to say about the event “I am so proud of our team! It was a team effort that won us the race. The drivers worked together to ensure efficient lap times and to take good care of the car: no curbs! The person responsible for data calculated and effectively carried out a dynamic pit stop strategy together with the drivers and our crew chief and head mechanic who, I think, ultimately won us the race. I am so proud of the team and so proud of Sam. She drove amazingly fast, especially during the night! This was by far the most exhilarating win yet for our young team, and the best part is that we had a lot of fun achieving it together. Go STR!”
The team’s next race will be as soon as this coming weekend at Yas Marina in Abu Dhabi. This will be a 6-hour race which is not part of the official calendar of the 24H Series. After Abu Dhabi, the team will have two months' break until the next race in Mugello (Italy), where they will be looking at keeping their momentum going.
ST Racing will take part in all 8 events of the 2021 24H Series season.
Hankook 24H Dubai: January 14-15-16 2021 - WIN
Extra - 6H Abu Dhabi, Jan 22-23
Hankook 12H Mugello: March 26-27 2021
Hankook 12H Spa-Francorchamps: April 23-24-25 2021
Hankook 12H Hockenheimring: May 22-23 2021
Hankook 24H Portimao: July 16-17-18 2021
Hankook 24H Barcelona: September 03-04-05 2021
Coppa Florio Hankook 12H Sicily: October 01-02-03 2021
Hankook 24H Sebring: November 12-13-14 2021
Samantha Tan Racing was built out of passion, creativity and the unwavering pursuit of excellence. Established in 2017, the team has competed in the Pirelli World Challenge and Pirelli GT4 America series' and won back-to-back team championships in the 2019/20 Pirelli GT4 America SprintX W & Silver classes, respectively. Samantha Tan Racing continues to work hard and build on the positive momentum with the accelerator pinned to the floor as they prepare to take on whatever 2021 has in store.