Lakeville, CT. (May 30, 2018) – ST Racing showed up at Lime Rock Park with high hopes of doing well in Rounds 5 and 6 of the Pirelli World Challenge Grand Prix of Lime Rock.
Lime Rock Park is the shortest track on the Pirelli World Challenge circuit. The 1.5-mile road course offers a beautiful setting with well-kept grounds where campers come to watch races every year for the Memorial Day weekend. However, it proved to be a difficult track to drive for ST Racing’s BMW M4 GT4’s.
#36 ST Racing car showcasing new livery from recently signed Tiffany sponsorship
Photo credit: Rick Dole Photography
During Saturday’s qualifying for Round 5 of the Pirelli World Challenge championship, Samantha Tan struggled a little with her #38 ST Racing BMW M4 GT4 racecar. The Canadian 20-year old driver was a little disappointed with her session as the car did not perform as well as she wanted, due to a setup change and old tires. However, Tan did improve her time by 2 seconds (56.2) from the morning practice session and placed 16th in the Pro-Am category out of a 32-car field. As for the sister car on the ST Racing team, Aurora Straus’ co-driver, Jon Miller went out to qualify, and placed the #36 machine in 9th position in the AM class.
Sunday was a day of rest for all teams and drivers, as racecars were not allowed on track because of the existing noise law in Lakeville, CT. However on Monday morning, it was time to get back to business again.
The first race of the day was scheduled in mid-morning with cool cloudy skies yielding a cold slippery track. On Lap 1, four cars went off in Turn 1 causing a full-course yellow for debris. Samantha Tan had a great start but lost a few positions trying to avoid the incident. After the restart, Tan started moving up the field until she was pushed off the track temporarily by another competitor.
“This race was pretty eventful” stated Tan. “I had a good start, but there was a spinout in the first turn, and I had to go in the grass to avoid it, and fell back a few positions. Then, I tried to make my way back. I started passing cars as the race progressed and moved up the field. I was about to pass #24 car in Turn 1, I got around him, but he bumped me coming out of Turn 2. It took me a bit of time to get back into it. I did my best to bring the car home clean to Nick. And, I know he did his best too.”
As soon as Tan’s co-driver Nick Wittmer hopped in the car at mid-race, he started picking off the cars one by one in his usual style, but found it difficult to gain positions quickly. “The track here at Lime Rock is so small, there is no passing room whatsoever” said Wittmer. “We knew ahead of time that the BMW’s and front-engine cars would have a hard time here. We started 27th and finished 19th overall. We’re happy with our results. But, there’s just no room to pass here, so it’s pretty much a gamble. You wait for the guy in front of you to make a mistake, it’s the only way you can pass here. And the way the race ended made it even more frustrating ” said the Montreal driver.
Photo credit: Rick Dole Photography
Crash #36 Car
In the latter part of the race, a full-course yellow was brought out when ST Racing’s Aurora Straus had contact with the #34 Mercedes of Szymczak and went off course directly into a tire barrier causing extensive damage to the front and left side of the car. Hence, the race checkered on yellow leaving Wittmer with very little green time and locking him into 19th place.
Aurora’s father, Ari Straus made a quick decision at that point and proceeded to rent a back-up car from Toby Grahovec at Classic BMW, to allow his daughter to run in the second race of the day as this was considered her hometown event. The ST Racing crew rushed and worked hard to prepare Straus’ car in time for the afternoon race.
For ST Racing, this just wasn’t their weekend. Nick Wittmer was sent to the back of the grid to start the race because the team was penalized for working on the car in pitlane, during pre-race. And then, as soon as Wittmer took the green flag, a 3-car crash at the bottom of the hill caused a fullcourse yellow. By mid-race, Wittmer had managed to move up to 6th place in Pro-Am class despite very little green time, before turning the car over to his teammate, Samantha Tan. During her stint, Tan did her best to stay away from other crashes, drove a clean race and brought the #38 GPI BMW M4 GT4 car home securing 11th place in the Pro-Am class. Needles to say, it was a frustrating weekend for everyone at ST Racing. The Straus / Miller duo finished 5th in the Am-Am class.
Photo credit: Sean Krinik
Round 6 driver quotes:
Samantha Tan (GPI- BMW M4 GT4 #38)
“This afternoon’s race was ok. Nick ran under yellow for the majority of the session but he brought the car to me clean. I had no idea what position I was in, for the entire race. I didn’t get anything on the radio, but I did my best. I got a few passes, and managed to avoid some crashes again, so that was good. Overall, this weekend wasn’t the best for us, but I know we’re going to come back stronger for Portland.”
Nick Wittmer (GPI-BMW M4 GT4 #38)
“After this morning race, we were a little bummed out with the 36 car crash. Things got turned around a bit. In this afternoon’s race, we regained our focus, the car was better, we were running on new tires, but again, not much passing here, not enough green time. We did manage to finish in 11th place in our class and we accumulated more points. It was a points weekend, but definitely a NON-BMW weekend here, that’s for sure. We were not at pace but at least we didn’t put a scratch on the car. We brought it home clean, and now we move on to Portland. I do want to thank Mr. Tan for his great support and the whole ST Racing Team for their hard word.”
This weekend’s GTS SprintX Rounds 5 & 6 will be broadcast on CBS Sports Network, premiering Wednesday June 6, at 9 pm ET.
Be sure to join us for the Pirelli World Challenge’s next official race on July 13-15 2018 at Portland International Raceway in Oregon. The race will be live streamed on www.world-challenge.com and available on SiriusXM Channel 383 and the SiriusXM App Channel 983.
Samantha Tan’s race fans can follow her on:
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 M4 GT4 in the GTS SprintX class. Kenneth Tan is the Team Principal, Ben Distaulo the team manager, and Alex Dupré, team engineer.
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.