After 14 years of trying to win his class at 25 Hours of Thunderhill, Peter Hopelain of Technik Competition can finally raise the championship trophy over his head. The team passed TAPG Motorsports in the last hour of the endurance race to earn the victory and finish sixth overall.
“We just had to claw our way back and it just worked out. It was awesome,” Hopelain said. “We were really coming from behind the whole time,” he said. “Hats off to Toyota. They made us work so hard.”
The win had its challenges. Three of the top cars in E2 collided in Turn 14 on Saturday, bending the rear of the BMW 330ci and benching the car temporarily. The team put the car back together and headed back out behind TAPG Motorsports, which led most of the race until Sunday morning, when trouble struck.
Driver D.J. Quint was on one of the last stints Sunday morning with the lead over second-place Team Technik Competition. As Quint rounded Turn 1 at around 10:30, he attempted to pass another car on the outside, and there was contact at corner exit, cutting TAPG’s tire and breaking a wheel. TAPG had to pull off on the outside of Turn 2 and wait for safety crews to arrive and pull him back to the pits. And just like that, the team’s lead vanished. Team TAPG Motorsports finished second in its Toyota 86 sports coupe after leading for much of the race.
“Peter and I and Technik have kind of built a bit of a relationship over the last 10, 12 months with the podcast and we’ve been racing a lot together,” Quint said. “So there’s some healthy competition there and they really, really want to win We’re all here to win, right?”
That left Team Slipstream-Racing.com to finish third in a Mazda MX-5. Their evening was as eventful as anyone’s. Driver David Staab said the team had an off in Turn 6, which ripped off their splitter. Then the team got punted off in Turn 1, which packed the underside of the car with mud.
“We got pushed off, caught some mud, and ended up going backwards through the mud on Turn 1, which caked about 40 pounds of mud on there. For the rest of the race, the next six hours, it was just vibrating uncontrollably,” Staab said. “We didn’t have time because we were so close with the 28 car, the Shift Up Now, we were just neck and neck, and we were very close on fuel,” he continued. “We were watching that last hour because, we knew that we were going to have to come in, and so we were watching. As soon as that yellow flag hit in Turn 1, we brought it right in for a splash and then right back out.”
“It was very, very close. Everybody on the team was up there with stopwatches doing the intervals just to see how it went,” Staab continued. “We pitted under yellow, and then the Shift Up Now teen pitted right toward the end of the yellow. That’s where we regained the third position from them, was in that last hour of the race. They were pushing extremely hard too. I talked with Lonnie and Sarah afterwards, and their tires were all the way to the cords. Both of us were going for broke at the end of the race. All or nothing just to get to the finish line.”
One final note: Four of the top 10 finishers were E2 cars, which finished ahead of all E1 and E0 cars, which are faster classes.