HOCKENHEIM, Germany (May 26, 2021) – ST Racing reinvigorated its championship assault in the 24H SERIES with another podium finish at the Hankook 12H HOCKENHEIMRING, despite a difficult end to the weekend in Germany.
Nick Wittmer kicked off ST Racing’s first race weekend at the Hockenheimring, a venue at which only one of the four drivers have competed previously, with a 1m 48.210s laptime in qualifying, securing the Canadian team’s fifth consecutive class pole position in the 24H SERIES in the process.
Problems for ST Racing’s immediate rival – the PROsport Racing Aston Martin Vantage – meant the #438 BMW M4 GT4 held a sizable four-lap gap after just one hour of racing on Saturday afternoon, an advantage Nick Wittmer, Jon Miller, Chandler Hull and team owner Samantha Tan had extended to six laps when the race went into its overnight hiatus five and a half hours later.
Ill fortune regrettably hit the #438 BMW hard when racing continued the following day. Jon Miller was forced to pit just 11 laps into his first stint when the M4’s left front rotor exploded on-track, although the former SRO America GT4 SprintX West Drivers’ champion skillfully managed to recover the BMW back to the pits with minimal damage. A superb effort from ST Racing’s experienced mechanics meant Jon was back out on-track just over 20 minutes later, and across the following stints, Jon, Samantha and Nick managed to more than halve the deficit to the PROsport Aston from five laps to two.
Unfortunately, a broken rear sub-frame meant the #438 BMW M4 GT4 was forced to retire from the event with less than two hours left to run. Having completed the requisite distance though to earn championship points, ST Racing was still classified 2nd at the end of the Hankook 12H HOCKENHEIMRING. This marks the fourth podium in five events for the Canadian team in the 24H SERIES this season, and also moves ST Racing up to fourth in the standings, just 11 points adrift from the top.
Kenneth Tan, team principal: “I have mixed emotions from this race. Although I cannot complain about finishing P2 and collecting valuable points, I am not satisfied with that result when we had done everything properly before and during the race: our mechanics prepped the car perfectly and our drivers executed as planned. We were in P1 until literally the 11th hour. In the end, a likely factory defect from the manufacturer of our brake rotors was to blame for the DNF. Both front rotors developed large cracks and broke into pieces. We have been using the same make of rotors and pads since we started endurance racing in 2019 so this was very strange. Nevertheless, our team continues to learn valuable lessons and these issues can only make us better going forward. I would like to thank BMW Motorsport for their continued support as well as Bas Koeten Racing for all their assistance in helping us get our M4 GT4 ready for Hockenheim in such a short period after the mishap at Paul Ricard. Now, we will be even stronger going into the 24H PORTIMAO. We cannot wait!”
Samantha Tan, driver: “Another bittersweet race for us at the 12H HOCKENHEIMRING. This was everyone’s first time at the Hockenheimring, except Chandler, and we all got up to speed quickly once again. The team prepped an amazing car, and Nick, Jon, Chandler and I ran strong, consistent laps. After the first 6.5 hours, we were 14th overall and 1st in-class, and had high hopes for the next day, but shortly after the restart, the front left brake rotor exploded on Jon, which dropped us behind the PROsport Aston. With sheer determination, and aided by some exceptional pit stops, Jon, Nick, and I were able to recover five laps to put us back within striking range of the class win. However, it just wasn’t meant to be. With 1.5 hours to go, the rear left subframe failed, and Nick had to bring the car back into the garage. Each of these races have been a huge learning experience for us in our maiden endurance racing season, and although we’ve had some bad luck as of late, we always come back stronger and more knowledgeable. I have the utmost faith in my team and my co-drivers, and know that we’ll be on the top step together again very soon. As always, thank you to our sponsors and to BMW Motorsport for giving us trackside support.”
Jon Miller, driver: “The team and my co-drivers delivered as always and it was great to have Nick Wittmer back with us. During my opening stint on Sunday, the left front brake rotor exploded as I went to the brake pedal in turn eight. Thankfully, I was able to keep it out of the wall and gravel trap and got it back to pit lane pretty quickly. The crew nailed a quick fix that kept us in the race, but we were still concerned about the brakes for the rest of the day. We changed our driving style and approach to the race, and we were still able to claw back to within reach of the leader until another issue set us back. It’s frustrating to miss out on the results we know that we can achieve, but everyone is looking forward to the next race. Portimão will be a big challenge. Another new track for the team and drivers and I’m sure it will be hot! As always, thank you to Race For RP (Relapsing Polychondritis) for their continued support. It’s an honour to represent them on and off-track.”
Chandler Hull, driver: “This weekend started off great again. My co-drivers and I were up to speed quickly with another new track, and the car the crew gave us was fantastic. Everything looked to be on the up during the first half of the race. Unfortunately, the next day, brake issues meant we lost our comfortable lead. Things only continued to go downhill from there when the rear subframe broke, ending our day. Despite these issues I couldn’t be more proud to be a part of this team. Everyone is on the same page and when something does go wrong, there is never any panic, just devotion to fixing the problem as quickly as possible. We’re holding our heads high, and I’m looking forward to Portimão in July.”
Nick Wittmer, driver: “We had a great qualifying, putting the car on pole. The team did an amazing job setting the car up and we couldn’t have done it without them. We had a perfect start to the race, with each driver having a great stint on day one. On day two, we maintained our lead until we ran into mechanical issues. We did the best we could but unfortunately we had to retire the car. But we’re happy with our 2nd place and thankfully we still keep our points since we finished more than 60 per cent of the race.”
Samantha, Jon, Chandler and Nick will be back in action at the next round of the 24H SERIES on 16-17-18 July at the Autódromo Internacional do Algarve in Portugal. The team’s GT4 America Series campaign meanwhile resumes in just two weeks time at the Virginia International Raceway on 4-6 June, where two ST Racing-prepared BMW M4 GT4s will compete for Pro/Am and Silver class honours as well as one BMW M2 CS Racing in TCX class.