Colombian racer Tatiana Calderón started her first full season of sportscar racing at last weekend’s 4 Hours of Le Castellet at the Circuit Paul Ricard in France with a fifth-place finish.
The 27-year-old shared the Richard Mille Racing team’s Oreca LMP2 car with Andre Negrao, who was drafted in to replace Katherine Legge after the British driver crashed out in testing last week.
The pair worked well together, preferring to focus on race preparations instead of going for all-out speed yet they still qualified thirteenth on Saturday for the Signatech-run team’s first race.
Calderón faced a steep learning curve negotiating traffic while fighting her fellow LMP2 drivers through the pack. The last time she raced was at the Daytona 24 Hours back in January this year where she was in the entry-level GT Daytona class. This time, however, she was the one doing having to thread her way past the slower LMP3 and GTE cars.
During the race itself, Calderón had been making steady progress and climbed up to eighth place before a full-course yellow (FCY) was called early in the second hour, where the team took the opportunity to pit. Calderón then watched on as temporary teammate Negrao continued her good work, the Brazilian handing back the controls of the #50 car late into the third hour.
Calderón finally took the checkered flag in sixth place, and after a post-race penalty for the second-placed Graff squad, she and Negrao were promoted to fifth in the final results. overall it was an excellent showing for Richard Mille Racing’s first race and one that definitely bodes well for the rest of the season.
“I’m really happy to start the season with a top-five in my first race for the Richard Mille Racing team, especially after everything that happened in the test.” said Calderón
“I’m really happy that Katherine is recovering after her surgery, and I’m really grateful that the team put Andre in the car. He did a mega job and he was really trying to share all the information, which was very beneficial. I think the team did a great job with the strategy.
“From free practice and from qualifying we already thinking about the tyres to use in the race, and in the race, we did everything right. I felt more and more comfortable as the race progressed and I think my second double-stint at the end of the race was much better than my previous one.
“It’s difficult to get used to the traffic, so there is more to come from my side on that. I’m happy with the progression, and to come home is P5 is an amazing effort for everyone. All the effort the team made in tough circumstances paid off.
“I also want to thank the FIA Women in Motorsport Commission for supporting us the whole weekend. Now I’m looking forward to the second round of the season in a few weeks at Spa.”
The second round of the 2020 ELMS season takes place at one of Calderón’s favourite venues, the legendary Spa-Francorchamps track in Belgium, on August 9.