Tatiana Calderón made her return to the legendary Rolex 24 at Daytona last weekend, although bad luck prevented her and her Gradient Racing teammates from finishing.
The Colombian had been participating in the Florida endurance classic, which opens the five-round IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup season, for the first time in four years together with co-drivers Katherine Legge, Sheena Monk and Stevan McAleer.
Despite the encouraging pace shown by Gradient’s #66 Acura NSX GT3 Evo22 in the run-up to the race, Tatiana was unable to see the chequered flag as electrical gremlins struck.
Tatiana went into the Rolex 24 in a confident mood after turning her first laps in the Acura in the pre-event Roar Before the 24 test, buoyed by her teammate Legge setting the pace in the 23-car GT Daytona (GTD) class and pre-race Balance of Performance adjustment aimed at helping the twin-turbo car cope in the hotter conditions of race week.
Legge took the start of the race, completing a single stint before Monk and then McAleer took over for a double stint each. Tatiana’s first got aboard the #66 machine just after 6pm, four-and-a-half hours into the race, completing a triple stint as day turned to night.
Come 2.20am, it was Tatiana’s turn to take over again, but by now problems with the #66 car’s ECU, which had to be replaced, had cost the Gradient crew more than 20 minutes. Further time was lost when McAleer ran over debris during his stint, picking up a puncture and leaving the front-right corner of the car with damaged bodywork.
The team was still targeting a finish, but sadly more electrical issues reared their head less than 20 minutes into Tatiana’s stint, and after more than an hour of trying to solve the problem, the team chose to withdraw at 4am, in the 15th hour of the race.
While left disappointed by the final outcome, Tatiana was able to take away many positives from her first race outing in a GT3 car for four years, as she and her Gradient teammates look to rebound for the remaining four races of the Endurance Cup season.
Tatiana Calderón: “Unfortunately we finished the race earlier than we planned! We had a couple of electrical issues, we had a puncture and we were missing a bit of the front nose as well after an incident. We had to retire at 4am. Nonetheless, it has been a great experience, and a great couple of weeks here at Daytona. It was my first time with Gradient Racing and my teammates, so I learned a lot in that triple stint I got to drive. It was the first time I had spent so much time in the car, to see the tyre degradation, and build that confidence. That will be very valuable for the rest of the season, and especially the next race at Sebring in March. I can’t wait to go back racing and I want to thank the team for all their efforts. I also want to thank my sponsors ConCora Foundation from Karol G, Wandr Studio and AVL for their support. I’m hoping we can repay their support with a better result at Sebring.”
Tatiana will return to IMSA action for the second round of the Michelin Endurance Cup, the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, on March 13-16.