Tatiana Calderón and Team Virage came away with a positive top-five result after a challenging European Le Mans Series round at Spa-Francorchamps last weekend.
Along with her teammates in the #19 Oreca 07 LMP2 car, Ian Rodriguez and Alexander Mattschull, Tatiana finished fifth in the LMP2 Pro/Am category and sixth overall in an incident-filled four-hour race, which marked the fourth round of the 2023 season.
Bronze-rated Mattschull qualified the car sixth in class, and as ever took the start of the race, which was immediately interrupted by a multi-car collision among the LMP2 runners at La Source. That brought out the safety car for the first of five times over the course of the four hours, with Mattschull handing over the reins to Tatiana after just under 1hr15 minutes.
Over the course of her double stint, Tatiana completed 35 laps, staying out of trouble and running at a solid pace as many other contenders in both LMP2 divisions hit problems. She would bring the car to make way for Rodriguez with around 1hr10 minutes remaining.
Team Virage experienced a stroke of fortune as Rodriguez’s final stop came just before the penultimate safety car period, which allowed the #19 car to jump ahead of some less fortunate runners. With the final safety car period and then a full-course yellow keeping the pack tightly bunched, Rodriguez finished less than three seconds from the podium.
After finishing sixth at Aragon, fifth at Spa represents a continuation of the positive trend that Tatiana and her teammates have been following after a difficult start of the season. But with the team unable to replicate the strong pace it showed in Saturday practice for the remainder of the weekend, plenty of work lies ahead before the season concludes next month in Portugal.
Tatiana Calderón: “Finishing P5 was a very positive way to conclude a tough weekend. Spa is a very particular track and it was our first time there with the low-downforce configuration, which we weren’t able to test with much beforehand. We still have a lot of work to do in terms of pure pace, and in particular over long stints, and we didn’t have time to prepare for the race as well as we would have liked during free practice. The first time I drove with a full tank was the race, and none of us were particularly happy about the pace. But sometimes you make the right calls on strategy and you get a good result. We have to be happy with P5 but we will be pushing to have better pace for the final two rounds in Portugal.”
The final two rounds of the 2023 ELMS season will take place over a single weekend at the Algarve Circuit in Portimao, Portugal, with a pair of four-hour races set to take place on October 20 and October 22.