ST Racing secured its third podium in four championship rounds of this year’s 24H SERIES powered by Hankook, but admits that the loss of a potential GT4-class win at the Hankook 12H HOCKENHEIMRING is a tough pill to swallow.
ST Racing’s team owner Kenneth Tan admits to having “mixed emotions” following the Canadian team’s GT4 podium at the Hankook 12H HOCKENHEIMRING, an event it had been on course to win at half-distance.
The former Overall GT Teams’ standings leader made an impressive start to its debut race at the Hockenheimring (each of its drivers bar Chandler Hull were racing at the German venue for the first time) with GT4-class pole position, its fifth in succession thus far in 2021 including January’s non-championship Hankook 6H ABU DHABI. Solid running throughout the opening six and a half hours, plus early brake issues for class rivals PROsport Racing, meant the #438 BMW M4 GT4 was already six laps ahead going into the overnight intervention.
The Canadian team’s fortunes went downhill less than an hour after Sunday’s restart however when the BMW’s front left brake disc exploded on-track 11 laps into Jon Miller’s first stint of the day. The repairs ended up costing ST Racing 23 minutes in the garage, dropping the #438 BMW six laps behind new GT4 leader PROsport Racing. The team’s charge back was ultimately brought to an abrupt end with less than two hours left to run by a broken rear subframe.
Having covered more than 60 per cent of the overall race distance, ST Racing was still classified 2nd in Germany, though Kenneth Tan admits the team had higher hopes for Hockenheim.
“I have mixed emotions from this race,” Tan explains in the team’s official release. “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.”
Retirement in Hockenheim marks the second time in two races that ST Racing, which had led the Overall GT Teams’ standings after the opening two rounds of the 2021 24H SERIES, have suffered reliability problems. The #438 BMW M4 also suffered engine and wheel hub issues last month at Circuit Paul Ricard. Team principal and driver Samantha Tan is confident though that the Canadian outfit can bounce back from this run of bad luck.
“Each of these races have been a huge learning experience for us in our maiden endurance racing season,” Samantha Tan states. “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.”
After four championship rounds of this year’s 24H SERIES, ST Racing is now 4th in the Overall GT Teams’ standings courtesy of GT4-class wins in Dubai and Mugello. Just 11 points separates the Canadian team from standings leader DUWO Racing heading into Hankook 24H PORTIMAO on 16-17-18 July.
- Images - Petr Frýba, Victor Chadarov and ST Racing