Tatiana Calderón: Fearless through the night
24 hours of adrenaline. 24 hours of white-knuckle racing. Daytime, then dusk, the long night finally broken by the lights of dawn: and then, just when the energies are running low, the final stretch. 24 hours of endurance, calling on nerves of steel to come into play when the body is flagging. The 24 Hours of Le Mans is something legendary, something racers of every stripe dream of. No matter which category of motorsport you are in, you stop and watch when it is on: in tribute, almost in reverence.
That’s what we did. The week after the race in Mugello, we were glued to the screen to cheer on one of ours, a member of our team tackling one of the greatest races in motorsport. Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN test driver, Tatiana Calderón, was part of the all-women Richard Mille Racing Team, taking on this race for the first time.
“It has certainly been an eye-opening experience to race in the 24 Hours of Le Mans and I can’t thank enough Richard Mille and the FIA Women in Motorsport for this opportunity,” said Tatiana, who competed in the LMP2 class in an Oreca 07, sharing the cockpit with Sophia Flörsch and Beitske Visser.
“To drive in one of the most challenging and legendary tracks in motorsport, in such a competitive class as LMP2, has been a privilege,” she continues, with a tinge of emotion in her words. “I shared the track with a number of former F1 drivers, including my childhood hero Juan Pablo Montoya, Formula E and other FIA World Champions, plus many top level drivers.” The trio finished the race in 9th place in their class, and 13th overall, an excellent result in a race that doesn’t forgive, a test for driver and machine alike.
It was a great result for Tatiana, but it wasn’t an unexpected one: for the young Colombian is used to shattering glass ceilings, achieving what others thought would be impossible. She doesn’t take no for an answer, she doesn’t let anything stand in her way.
Having been part of our team since 2017, first as a development driver and then as tester and ambassador, Tatiana’s work ethic and positive attitude are not a surprise. She is used to let her work do the talking, defying the naysayers and proving she deserves to be where she is – for what she can deliver to the team.
Her gender, or that of her team-mates, was never part of the equation. Used to show that skill and determination don’t reside in your identity card, Tatiana showed the professionalism and the driving skills that have turned her into arguably the fastest woman in motorsport. Those skills and approach are what earned her the respect of her team, her crew and her competitors, on and off the track.
But that is not enough. Having taken the chequered flag of this legendary race, Tatiana is already looking at her next step, at doing it again: learning from the experience and using those gains to come back stronger.
“We managed to finish the race, three Le Mans rookies that had never raced together before, which was our first goal,” she reflects, almost nonchalantly looking back at an experience most people in motorsport can only dream of. “Driving at such high speeds on the Mulsanne straight, consistently and for so long is quite a unique experience. I hope to come back again in 2021 and aim higher.”
And when she does, we will be watching, once again glued to that screen.