A lot of attention has been paid to the Toyo Tires Flying Lizard Motorsports Audi team, which took the overall and class win for the third consecutive year. Meanwhile, farther back in the grid, Team RA Motorsports was busy winning E3 for the third straight year.
RA Motorsports won last year with the slower of its two cars. The faster one dropped out when the engine suffered mechanical troubles. The same car experienced similar trouble — and more — this year, but rather than continue to push, the team backed off a bit.
“It was running on three cylinders. I could hear it,” said team owner Ron Gayman. “We didn’t fix it. We just babied it. And, ironically, at the same time, we lost our clutch, so we could only keep it in fourth gear. We couldn’t event shift, so we drove in fourth gear for 12 hours. We were five seconds off our pace. We made the mistake last year, we kept driving it hard after that same thing happened and we blew up after four hours of driving it hard. This year, we babied it and … we made it.”
Bringing home second place was Team CorkSport Performance, which was racing a front-drive Mazda3 running lap times as much as 3 seconds quicker than RA Motorsports’ winning car. The team’s downfall came in the form of tire wear and fueling issues.
“It wasn’t penalties. It was just trying to get gas in the car fast enough. That’s where we were losing spots,” said driver Derek Ambrose. “We knew we’d have speed on our side, but we were giving up a little bit in tire because we’re a heavier car. So, it was really just outlasting the MX-5s. We outlasted, well, pretty much the entire field except for the one guy in front us.”
The car that brought home third was the team that took second in 2016 and third in 2013. A+ Racing is run by the Placer High School auto mechanics program. This year, the team fought back after significant contact, among other troubles.
“We got hit by a Porsche in the middle of the night, with severe front-end damage,” said team manager and teacher Al Angulo. “It took the kids 30 minutes to replace the entire front end and align the car and put it on track again. Then we lost a brake line and we replaced that and then we had a freak electrical problem, which might have happened when we got hit, jarred a relay. So, it took us a while to track that down, but we fought back tooth and nail, and every inch we earned with those kids from the high school.”