Elkhart Lake, WI. – ST Racing started out the weekend with a “kick-off party” at track on Thursday afternoon at Road America, where Series officials and other team members from the Pirelli World Challenge dropped by for some oysters and drinks.
Saturday was a perfect mix of sun and clouds for Race 1 that featured the GTS and Touring Car categories.
Samantha Tan had a solid run in her #38 BMW M235iR. She moved up to 6th place early in the race, but fell back to 7th, halfway thru the race, to avoid an incident from contact between two other cars. Tan was all smiles after the race. “I had a really good start” said the 19-year old Toronto driver, “and it was going really well, but I cooked my tires too early, and kept messing up on the really long straights. But it was a lot of fun. There was a lot of close racing. I had a great time.”
Tan’s teammate Nick Wittmer of Montreal, Canada scored a podium finish in his #91 BMW M235iR, running from 4th to 2nd place, on the very last lap. “We had the craziest battles, side-by-side with the Porsche in a lot of corners, and no touching,” said Wittmer. “We lost a bit of tires, we were trying to keep up, but the Porsches are very fast here and much lighter.”
Sunday’s race was a different story. The chilly 66-degree weather may have had something to do with cars needing more time to bring up the tire temps and many laps being run under full-course yellow, with an already delayed start due to a crash at the standing start with Cameron Cassel’s GTS car and Cody Ellsworth’s Porsche Touring Car. On the second re-start, on Lap 12, the two BMW M235iR’s of Nick Wittmer and Stefan Sajic (Zima Motorsports) were battling for 1st place, when Samantha Tan made hard contact with the wall at Turn 11, better known as the “kink” at Road America’s iconic track. Tan was taken to medical to be examined. The race was red-flagged and checkered on Lap 13. Wittmer claimed the victory for ST Racing, and Tan was released from medical with a right sprained ankle shortly after the race.
This weekend’s Rounds 9 and 10 were strictly invitational races, and therefore no points were accumulated.
Samantha Tan (GPI-Motul-BMW M235iR #38) “The start was really good for me. I avoided the little incident at the start, I was in 6th place, and it was going pretty well. The handling of the car was not as good as yesterday, but my times were improving, I was faster than yesterday. But, I went a little too fast into the kink, and I went two wheels off, and when I got back on track, it just snapped and hit the wall. I want to thank my sponsors GPI and Motul, and my team of course.”
Nick Wittmer (GPI-Motul-BMW M235iR #91) “We had a lot of full-course yellows in Race 2. The track conditions were different from yesterday. It was a bit colder today. Stefan Sajic and I had a good battle going, back and forth, fighting for first place. On the second re-start, I grabbed first place, and saw Samantha in the wall when I went thru the kink. I was happy to take the win, but more importantly, I was really relieved that she was not seriously hurt. Again, I need to thank our sponsors, GPI, Fuse Lenses, and Motul for their support.”
This weekend’s GTS and TC invitational rounds will be broadcast on CBS Sports Network, premiering July 5th, 2017, at 8:00 pm EDT.
Be sure to join us for the Pirelli World Challenge’s next official race on August 11-13 at the Grand Prix of Utah Motorsports Complex.
Samantha Tan’s race fans can follow her on samanthatanracing.com, Instagram (@samanthatan_racing) (samanthaatan), Facebook (STRSamantha) and on Twitter (@STR_Samantha).