GT WORLD CHALLENGE – 10 october 2021
SEason finale brought to a premature end in barcelona
The final round of the Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS season was brought to a premature end for Sam De Haan, robbing the RAM Racing crew of the chance to finish the season on a high. The pace of the #69 Zenith-backed Mercedes-AMG GT3 during the weekend’s early sessions had looked promising with Sam producing impressive performances in qualifying and the start of the race, but heavy contact in the opening laps at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya ended any hope of a strong result.
Sam, alongside teammates Rob Collard and Fabian Schiller, had looked like a strong showing could be on the cards, despite many teams complaining of a lack of grip. After a top-10 run in the opening practice session, the pink and black Mercedes-AMG was among the quickest cars on track during the pre-qualifying session. This pace would carry across to the qualifying sessions on Saturday morning, with Sam putting in a standout performance to go second quickest in the Pro-Am class. This performance would help put RAM Racing in P6 on the grid for the three-hour race.
The opening lap of the final race of the season was a chaotic mix as drivers looked to make up as much ground as possible. As the 46 cars successfully completed the first tour of the circuit, Sam was on a charge and had made major inroads into the leading pack. He managed to stay out of trouble as cars came together around him, moving up to P4 with one of the strongest opening laps of the field.
Shortly after, however, heavy damage was sustained to the rear of the Mercedes-AMG when a recovering Ferrari made a late lunge. The resulting contact sent Sam off the track and into the gravel with two punctures and a bent toe arm, dropping down the order as the Safety Car was scrambled. Despite his best efforts to recover back to the pits, the damage proved to be terminal, and the season came to a disappointing end earlier than planned.
“Really disappointing way to close out the season, but it does sum up the year we seem to have had, unfortunately! We definitely showed that we had the pace to challenge for the podium, and possibly even the win. My qualifying run went really well, and I was really comfortable with the set-up we had, and my first lap was one of the best of the season. There was a lot going on, but I managed to keep myself to myself and moved up the order, so we were in a really good place by the end of the first lap. I hoped it would all start to calm down from there, but it was a case of wrong place at the wrong time, and we just got collected on the way into the corner. I got the car back to the pits and the team did a great job to get me back out, but the damage proved too much. It was a shame that we couldn’t show the potential we had, and to bring home another trophy for the RAM Racing squad, Rob and Fabian who have been great all year.”
International GT Open – 13 september 2021
Race win and podium on Red Bull Ring return
A podium result in difficult conditions was followed by a dominant race victory at the Red Bull Ring in the first outing with the Aston Martin Vantage GT3…