Samantha Tan: “My ultimate goal is to do the 24 Hours of Le Mans”

Samantha Tan, BMW ambassador, was present in the paddock for the 24 2024 Hours of Le Mans. The Canadian driver spoke with us about her excellent start to the season in GT World Challenge America and her ambition to race in the WEC and in the Sarthe in the future .

Published on 19/06/2024 à 18:00

Valentin GLO

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Samantha Tan: “My ultimate goal is to do the 24 Hours of Le Mans”

Samantha Tan - Photo: GT World Challenge America

Samantha Tan, how do you feel to be here at the 24 hours of Le Mans as a spectator?

It's great to be here. This is only the second time I have come here after the Centenary edition last year. It's very special to be here again, especially because it's the first year of GT3 and BMW is back in prototype for the first time in 25 years. It's an incredible experience.

Seeing all these cars on track must make you want to take part in the 24 Hours of Le Mans…

Yes, this is the pinnacle of sports car racing. My ultimate goal is to do the 24 Hours of Le Mans and to do it with BMW, obviously. Hopefully in the near future.

What does being a BMW ambassador mean to you?

It was a dream come true for me, honestly. This is my second year, I renewed my contract this year. It was BMW that got me into racing and sparked my passion for cars. For as long as I can remember, I've always been a fan. Some of my earliest memories are of my father's E36 M3. So I'm a huge BMW fan. So when they approached me to become an ambassador, it made so much sense, especially racing with the brand since 2017 and being the first to win with the M4 GT3 worldwide (12 Hours of Mugello 2022. Editor’s note). It's a dream come true. It's surreal.

Do you feel a special atmosphere around BMW here for their return to the premier class?

I was in the middle of the Pilots Parade yesterday (Friday), and the energy, the atmosphere was crazy, insane. It's amazing to see the enthusiasm of the fans, and I'm sure the return of BMW plays a part in that.

Especially with a driver like Valentino Rossi in GT3…

It's true ! People went wild when he passed.

The BMW-WRT hospitality is not far from that of the Iron Dames here. Has this project given you inspiration as a female driver?

Yes, it's amazing to see how successful they've been over the last few years. It's an initiative that I would love to be a part of one day, honestly. There is still a lot to do, but they are doing a very good job inspiring the next generation.

Unfortunately, we only have three female drivers at the 24 Hours of Le Mans this year. What do you think should be done to change this?

Even in GT World Challenge America, the championship in which I compete, I am the only woman in the peloton this year. So it's quite difficult. There are a lot of girls getting into sport at the junior level. karting and entry-level sports cars, but once they try to move up the ladder, it becomes increasingly difficult. So I think we need more sponsors at the bottom to encourage the girls to continue. Currently, reaching the level of the Iron Dames or mine in GT3 is extremely difficult.

You mentioned the GT World Challenge America. You have had an excellent start to the season with three victories in six races. You are leading the Pro-Am category. What do you think of this start to the season?

Honestly, we just had a double victory at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, and it took me a few days to realize that. It was incredible. In six races we have always finished on the podium or higher. It’s indeed an incredible start to the season. I don't think I've ever had such a successful start to a season. Since the arrival of Neil (Verhagen. Editor's note) halfway through last season, we have had good moments and have put everything we have learned to good use. We hope to continue our momentum until the end of the season. We are at the top of the championship and we hope to stay there.

Did you expect such a start to the season or is it a surprise for you?

I knew we were going to get good results. I would say it's not totally unexpected, because we worked a lot during the offseason, but it's still a bit of a surprise to me. Last year we wanted to win the championship, so that's still the main goal this year. Maybe the goal now is to finish on the podium in every race, and learn as much as possible.

Last year you had a difficult time at Sebring with a disqualification even though you won the race. How did you feel this year when you won?

We returned to Sebring this year with determination. When victory was taken away from us last year, a lot of people pointed fingers at us. This year we came back with something to prove, that we have the skills, the speed. BMW gave us a great car and we showed everyone that we could still win.

How far should you progress as a driver?

There is always something to improve. It's a never-ending learning journey, especially in motor racing. Each time, Neil and I study a lot of data and videos after each session. We can work on pit stops, driver changes, just to be a little faster, even though we are already very good.

It seems that you are not scheduled for the 24 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps this year, unlike the last two years. For what ?

We had cars in Europe with the Ferrari the 296 GT3 last year and the BMW M4 GT3 the year before. We brought this car back to the United States since we ran a GT3 program with two cars. This is why I unfortunately cannot participate in the 24 hours of Spa-Francorchamps this year with our car.

Do you plan to participate in other 24-hour races, such as Daytona or the Nürburgring?

Maybe both next year, who knows? I will be racing at the Nürburgring next weekend with the BMW M4 GT4. I'm preparing for the Nürburgring 24 Hours since I only got my license last year, but I hope to do more endurance races next year, yes.

You know the BMW M4 GT3 well now, do you aim to compete in the World Championship?Endurance of the FIA ​​in the future?

Le WEC is another big goal of mine! L'ELMS is also in my plans. Everything is done to achieve the objective of racing here at Le Mans. We'll see where the journey takes us.

Comments collected by Valentin Glo, at Le Mans.

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Valentin GLO

Journalist. Endurance reporter (WEC, IMSA, ELMS, ALMS) and sometimes F1 or IndyCar.

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