Samantha Tan Racing made a promising start to its 2023 GT World Challenge America campaign with a hard fought fifth-place finish in the Pro-Am class at the season opener at Sonoma Raceway. Despite a suspected technical issue striking the #38 BMW M4 GT3 late in race one, ST Racing bounced back to take a top-five finish in the Pro-Am class in race two.
Newly announced BMW M Motorsport brand ambassador Samantha Tan showed her mettle by qualifying an impressive eighth overall and fifth in the Pro-Am class, with one final do-or-die lap during her session. In an incredibly tight field, just one-tenth more would have put ST Racing on the Pro-Am front row.
Samantha’s stellar qualifying performance also bests the 15th overall and tenth in the Pro-Am class that the Ontario native managed on the #38 M4 GT3’s GTWC debut at the same venue in 2022.
In his first qualifying session for the team, BMW Motorsport factory driver John Edwards posted an astonishing 1:35.237s during the second qualifying session to secure the overall pole position for race two. It was an eye-catching way to kick-off his first full GTWC America season.
After a clean – albeit hectic – start to Saturday’s race one, Samantha wisely decided that discretion was the better part of valor after being hung out to dry at turn seven by Wright Motorsports. Taking the long view to the GTWC America season opener, Samantha settled in and was able to hold onto tenth in class until the mandatory driver change, 45 minutes in.
Edwards made a similarly strong start to his first racing stint with ST Racing, moving up the order a couple of places to 12th overall and eighth in class. Sadly, a suspected technical issue befell the #38 M4 GT3 less than 20 minutes from home, unfortunately leading to the car’s retirement.
Edwards made a fighting start to race two on Sunday afternoon, running side-by-side with the fast-starting Crowdstrike by Riley Mercedes-AMG through turns seven, eight and nine before finally having to give best into the snaking turn ten. While managing the tire degradation, he held onto third overall, until just before the mandatory driver change at half-distance.
Samantha, re-joining fifth overall, was immediately all over the back of fourth-placed Wright Motorsports, pressuring the Porsche for lap after lap. After a spirited effort, Samantha brought her BMW home fifth in class and seventh overall to open her team’s account in North America for 2023.
“It was a solid first race weekend in GTWC America, here at Sonoma Raceway,” said co-owner and driver Samantha Tan. “After lots of testing in the off-season, the team gave us a stellar car, allowing John and I to both have amazing qualifying sessions. I was fifth in class, only a tenth off second, and John qualified on overall pole for race two. Although we had some issues in the first race, causing us to retire the car, we came back strong today and finished fifth in class after battling with severe tire degradation and lowered boost. Altogether, I think we showed great pace, I learned a ton, and we have good points for the start of the season!”
“It was a great first weekend for me with ST Racing,” said driver John Edwards. “On a track that doesn’t suit our car, we still managed to snag a pole position and save some points in the race. I’m looking forward to the rest of the season and I know we’ll be on top of the podium soon!”
“What a weekend; we poled in GT3, our two STR38 Motorsports GT4 cars podiumed, and all our drivers ran very strong races, all things considered,” said team principal Kenneth Tan. “I am really proud of the team’s performance. It is the first time we are running three cars and both GT4 and GT3 programs under one roof. Thanks to Jon and Mark for putting together such a professional crew. I’m also especially proud of Samantha’s performance after not having raced for about five months. She showed a lot of grit and skill during her two stints. There is always room for improvement but overall, we did well and all the cars came back in one piece. I’m always happy when I leave the race weekend that way. We can’t wait to be in NOLA next month!”
Round two of this year’s GTWC America will take Samantha Tan Racing to NOLA Motorsports Park in Louisiana on April 28-30. One week prior to that, the Canadian-entered outfit is also set to start its first full GTWC Europe Endurance season with a three-hour race at the vaunted Autodromo Nazionale Monza on April 21-23.
Both races will be streamed live, with footage on-board the #38 BMW M4 GT3 available at www.twitch.tv/samanthatanracing. Updates as the races progress will also be available via ST Racing’s accounts on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.
- From ST Racing