Tatiana Calderón concluded her season in the European Le Mans Series with a weather-affected final weekend of the 2023 campaign in Portimao, Portugal.
The Colombian ace and her teammates in the Team Virage Oreca 07 LMP2 car, Ian Rodriguez and Alexander Mattschull, came away with a pair of disappointing finishes in the two four-hour races, ending up ninth and 10th in class respectively.
That was made all the more frustrating by the strong performance Tatiana and the team showed across the weekend in a wide range of challenging conditions, highlighting the considerable progress they have made since the start of the season.
Bronze-rated driver Mattschull did an excellent job in the wet to get the #19 car on pole in the LMP2 Pro/Am class for the first race, the 4 Hours of Algarve, held on Friday. But sadly he was tagged by another LMP2 runner on the opening lap and spun, and while he was able to rejoin he was forced to pit due to the car’s oil temperature.
Further time was then lost with a speeding penalty and another on-track collision, this time with an LMP3 car, for which the driver in question was penalised.
All of that left Tatiana two laps behind by the time she got aboard the car, and although she and Rodriguez managed to get a single lap back, a last-minute splash-and-go stop meant the Virage squad would end up two laps down at the finish in ninth.
The second race, the 4 Hours of Portimao, turned out to be similarly frustrating. After a long delay to the start due to rain, Mattschull again did a strong job in his opening stint to climb from fourth to second before handing over the controls to Tatiana, who kept up the good work, joining fourth after the pit stop and was closing down the third-placed DKR Engineering car in the fight for third.
That was until the Team Virage machine was struck by a costly gearbox sensor failure, leaving Tatiana unable to change gears and leaving her with no option but to pit for repairs. A total of 15 laps were lost, leaving the #19 crew 10th in class at the finish.
Tatiana Calderón: “It has been a bit of a frustrating way to end the season. Alex [Mattschull] had done a great job in qualifying the wet on Friday to get us on pole, but unfortunately he was hit by another driver, which gave us some damage. We were then hit by another car, which made it very challenging to come back from there. There was no way we could get a good result. We started well in Sunday’s race despite the rain and the delay to the start. I think we had good pace, we were running fourth and we were in the hunt for a podium, but sadly a sensor failed on the gearbox which meant I couldn’t shift up or down. We had to bring in the car for repairs, which is a real shame because I think things were going our way for a podium. At least we ended the season in better shape than we started it, and now I’m looking ahead to the future. I’d like to thank my sponsors, Concora Foundation, AVL, Terpel, the Colombian Ministry of Sport and Escuderia Telmex - without them I wouldn’t be racing. A huge thanks to them and to all the fans for their support this year, it means a lot to me.”
News regarding Tatiana’s 2024 racing plans will be shared in due course.