An Awesome Weekend at Grand Prix of Texas
Austin, TX – The Pirelli World Challenge race weekend started on a bit of a somber note at COTA as everyone’s mind was on the thousands of people affected by Hurricane Harvey. All the teams and drivers in the paddock either offered a donation to the Red Cross or helped in their own way.
The weekend began with a media karting event on Wednesday night, at K1 Speed where many Pirelli World Challenge drivers had fun mixing it up with one another.
Even though the weather in Austin was brutal throughout the week, reaching up to 100 degrees of humid heat, it did not seem to affect the driving for ST Racing’s Samantha Tan and Nick Wittmer. It was the best weekend thus far this season as the Team brought home a podium and a victory.
Driving on a 135-degree track made it abrasive on tires but both Tan and Wittmer continued to improve their times every time they went out for a session.
The Circuit of the Americas’ state-of-the-art, 3.427-mile, 20-turn track proved to be a good track for Samantha Tan’s style of driving. Tan drove solidly in Saturday’s race. Even though the Toronto driver lost 2 positions when a 3-car incident caused a full-course yellow on the first lap, she showed her racing skills on the re-start, as she moved back up the field, picking off cars one by one, on every lap and finished in 14th place. Tan was all smiles after the race: “I had a lot of fun out there. I started 18th, and at the beginning there was a 3-car incident at Turn One, so getting around that, set me back a few positions, but on the re-start I kept pushing, passing cars lap by lap, and gained 6 positions. The tires were giving out at the end, but I really had a good race. I want to thank my Team for putting my car together and setting it up as well as they did. Thank you to Motul as well for their great support. That was a really great race, and I hope to give the Team and my sponsors a top-ten tomorrow.”
Tan’s teammate, Nick Wittmer started third, moved up to second place on Lap 2 From then on, it was a battle for first with Greg Liefooghe’s #20 machine. The race was all about drafting, and on Lap 8, Nick took the lead, but lost it back again on Lap 11. “Again, we have to thank Samantha Tan Racing” said Wittmer. “The Team did such a great job of putting the car together, they gave me an A-1 car. It was just a battle of drafting out there. Greg (Liefooghe) and I were fighting for first place. It was good clean racing. I got him at one point because he made a mistake coming out of the back straight, so I drafted him and passed him, and then the same thing happened to me. It was still very good for us. We started in third place, and finished second, we gained a position. We’re tightening up in the Championship and we need to keep our focus until the end.”
The ST Racing Team celebrated at the end of the day on Saturday by putting on an authentic Texan BBQ and invited the Pirelli World Challenge officials and the other teams to join them in the fun.
On Sunday, the ST Racing crew made some changes to the cars for Race 2 of the weekend, hoping to add even more speed to the cars. Nick Wittmer started on pole while Samantha Tan was 13th on the grid. Tan’s car was playing tricks on her just before going green and that affected her start. But, she drove well the whole race and finished 14th out of 44 cars. As for Wittmer, he pulled everything he could out of his BMW 235iR to make it a flag-to-flag win, but not without non-stop wheel-to-wheel battles from beginning to end. Overall, this was the best weekend for ST Racing.
2 Driver quotes:
Samantha Tan (GPI-Motul-BMW M235iR #38) “I didn’t really get a good start today because my car started inching forward a bit, so I had to let off a bit and then the green flag flew and I missed the start, and I got passed right away. But, it was an okay race. They changed the setup today, and I think I preferred yesterday’s setup a bit more. And, my water temps were a bit high today as well, so the was hot on the straights., but I drove as best I could and I think this is one of the best finishes I’ve had all season, so I can’t complain. I’m really happy with our weekend overall. It was a great weekend, and I need to thank the whole team, and my sponsors GPI, Motul and all the great fans for their support.”
Nick Wittmer (GPI-Motul-BMW M235iR #91) “The guys on the Team gave me such a great car. I need to thank ST Racing, BMW Motorsports, Fuse for doing such an awesome job on putting this car together. I think we did a small error in changing the aerodynamics for today’s race because we had speed loss in yesterday’s race, so we thought we would try that. I think it was a bad choice but I had to race it out. I had to deal with the car that I had, so I made my car really wide to make sure no one could get by me. We brought it home safe and sound, we won, and I couldn’t be happier for our Team. I also need to thank F.A.S.T. for giving me a cool shirt, to replace an old one that was leaking. I could not have gotten thru this weekend’s heat without that.”
This weekend’s TC rounds will be broadcast on CBS Sports Network, premiering Wednesday September 13, 2017, at 7:00 pm EDT.
Be sure to join us for the Pirelli World Challenge’s next official race on October 11-13 at the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in California.
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.