international gt open – 10 september 2023

sam de haan bounces back at the red bull ring

It was a weekend of mixed fortunes for Sam de Haan and his Optimum teammates during the latest round of the International GT Open calendar. Visiting one of Sam’s favourite circuits, a podium in the opening race was all-but-secured, until a technical issue ended the race just five minutes from the chequered flag. Undeterred, Sam and his teammate Charlie Fagg converted an impressive pole position in race 2 to a hard-fought podium finish to reclaim the championship lead with two rounds to go.

The weekend started well for newly-announced BRDC Member Sam, and the red zebra liveried McLaren 720S GT3 of Optimum Motorsport, making a return to the grid. Having raced, and taken victory, at the Red Bull Ring previously, Pace looked strong as Sam got the first qualifying run underway. He was firmly among the front runners in the battle for pole, and eventually secured a second row gridslot. From here, as the race got underway, Sam made a blistering start to gain a position off the line, up into the podium positions, and the lead McLaren.

From here, Sam defended the position well, holding on to P3, before running wide and incurring a track limits penalty while also dropping a position. However, he battled on and stayed on the back of his Optimum-run teammate in the run to the pitstop window. With Charlie onboard, the #69 McLaren had retained a top-10 position as several cars opted to run longer. Gradually, with a string of strong passes and as the stops played out, Charlie climbed the order and had regained the final podium position as the pit window closed. From here, the red and black McLaren was firmly under the rear wing of the car in front, and with 18 minutes remaining, Charlie made the pass stick with another bold move. His charge would be cut short, however, when a technical issue brought an early end to the race, cruelly short, just five minutes from the flag.

Race day two started with Charlie at the wheel again, running in the second the weekend’s qualifying sessions. Another impressive run saw the young Brit secure pole position, and the race would see Charlie retain the position off the start. He held the lead, and gradually built up a five second buffer to the chasing pack over the opening laps, but a safety car period just before the driver change window would neutralise the race. Quick reactions allowed Charlie to regain some of his advantage on the restart, and quick strategy work by the pitcrew opted to bring the red and black McLaren in for the mandatory stop, and Sam returned to the action as the pitlane was closed due to a further safety car. This important strategy call worked to the advantage of the team, and Sam led the field away from the restart.

After dropping a position, Sam then held position, looking to mount an attack on the leader as his stint progressed. He continued to apply pressure, and managed the traffic well as he looked for a way past, making a bold move in the final sector of the short Red Bull Ring lap, around the outside. However, working with lower grip and also slower back-markers, he was unable to make the move stick, but continued to fight until the flag dropped. The end result saw Sam and Charlie take P2 in the race, and moved the pair back into the championship lead, ahead by a single point. 

The championship now heads to the ‘Temple of Speed’, at Autodromo Nazionale Monza in Italy, next weekend, 23-24 September. 


fanatec gt world challenge europe – 31 JULY 2023

disappointing end to a strong nurburgring weekend

A late puncture at the Nurburgring for the Optimum Motorsport ‘chrome zebra’, was a cruel ending to a strong run of results for Sam De Haam…

international gt open – 24 july 2023

victory in paul ricard keeps championship charge on target

Sam de Haan was back in action over the weekend as International GT Open travelled to Circuit Paul Ricard, France for round four, and he contionued his winning ways with victory in the opening race of the weekend…