There’s a phenomenon that happens often during each 25 Hours of Thunderhill Presented by Hawk Performance. When you check the standings at midnight, there are a few teams that have exhibited a dominance over the others that looks insurmountable.
Inevitably, things look different for most teams the next morning, and 2019 is no different. Here’s a look at the 8 a.m. Sunday morning standings.
What a difference the night made for the Valkyrie Autosport’s Nissan GT-R. Trailing Lowe Group Racing for most of the 25 Hours of Thunderhill, Valkyrie took the lead in ES overnight and has grown it to 28 laps as the endurance race enters its final stretch.
“At this point, we tell everybody to take it easy. With big gaps like that, 25-lap lead at 2 minutes a lap, that’s 50 minutes,” said Giles Powell with Valkyrie Autosport. “It’s really difficult for anybody to make that up based on pace alone.”
Lowe Group Racing was enjoying a comfortable lead when their car collided with another racecar and had to go to the back paddock for repairs. Currently in second place is Three Thieves Racing and third is Valkyrie Autosports’ sister car, a 370Z GT.
Powell said the challenge for the drivers isn’t the occasional showers overnight but the mud on the track.
“Even without the rain, the major problem is the mud on the track so there are a lot of cars going off, and even though you can see a dry line on the video, what’s happening is that different cars are going off in places that bring mud back on and then spreading it around,” Powell said. “The dry line is changing from lap to lap. Even though there’s not any actual precipitation right now, it’s still really dicey conditions.”
Turn 3 Motorsports has held onto first place in ESR all night long and continued to lead Sunday morning at the 8 o’clock hour. Using a Radical SR3 RSX, Turn 3 Motorsports has managed to put on a dominant performance, which isn’t always easy with one of the smallest cars on the track. Even small incidents of contact with a larger, heavier production car can cause big damage and necessitate costly, time-consuming off-track repairs. The Radical SR3 RSX also is an open-cockpit car, which makes the inclement weather that much tougher on the drivers.
With that class lead, Turn 3 Motorsports also held the overall lead over K2R Motorsports in second in class and overall, and Praga Cars/Fellner Motorsports in third in class and overall.
One team whose dominance didn’t didn’t change overnight was Team Frasun Racing, which has driven its BMW M4 GT4 to a commanding lead early Sunday morning. At midnight, Frasun Racing had a 57-lap lead over second place Toyo Tires Flying Lizard Motorsports and a 123-lap lead over Precision Driving Tech/Hive 10 Motorsports.
By Sunday morning, Frasun Racing’s lead had stretched to 147 laps over Precision Driving Tech/Hive 10, which had moved to second place over Toyo Tires Flying Lizard Motorsports, now in third place.
DIG Racing had been flirting with first place in EO for a great deal of the endurance race and finally took the lead away from Honda Racing THRW about 3 a.m. Honda Racing had built a 14-lap lead earlier in the race to see DIG Racing whittle away at the lead. MPACT Racing had a 16-lap lead as of 8 a.m.
Team FLIR Vision Racing’s Mitjet LV 02 car was trailing Team Bullet Performance early in the race, but took over the E1 class lead shortly before 6 o’clock Saturday evening. FLIR Vision has held the lead ever since and continued to hold the class lead at the 8 o’clock hour. Showing signs of contact on the rear bumper, Bullet Performance has dropped back to third in class, 10 laps back from FLIR Vision Racing.
Just three laps behind FLIR Vision is El Dorado Motorsports CRX driving a mighty Honda CRX.
If you ever want to know what never give up looks like, witness this year’s E2 class. The leader for the most part has been TAPG Motorsports in its Toyota 86 sports coupe, but behind them, teams have been shuffling back and forth all night.
At 8 o’clock, TAPG Motorsports had retaken the lead from Technik Competition, which held the lead awhile Sunday morning. Technik was two laps behind TAPG at 8 o’clock, and had a 10-lap lead over third place HQ Autosport, which lagged near the bottom of the E2 standings early on in the race, but has clawed its way forward since the middle of the night. HQ Autosport won E2 in 2018.
Tazio Ottis Racing is the only car remaining in the E3 field, and now the goal is to manage the car through the last few hours of the race. Smoke is coming from the vehicle when the drivers take their foot off the gas. The team is putting up solid lap times, consistently turning 2:18 laps and having logged more than 1,200 miles on the 3-mile track.
The E3S class is shaping up for a close finish as the top three teams are all within four laps. It’s A+ Young and the Restless’ turn in the P1 spot after taking over the lead around lap 400. RA Motorsports’ No. 35 had been running first in the afternoon and well into the evening before giving up the top spot.
Lesher Motorsports is sitting in second place, and RA Motorsports is in third. RA Motorsports owner Ron Gayman knows the challenges of running the endurance race and how quickly the order can change.
“Every year I can guarantee you that somebody will be leading this race that will end up losing, and I’ve been there,” he said.