By the time 8 p.m. Saturday night rolls around during the 25 Hours of Thunderhill, teams that avoided contact and mechanical issues have settled into a rhythm and are keeping their fingers crossed as the evening wears on.
With more bands of rain expected this evening, tire choice and the timing for switching them will be more and more critical.
By 8 o’clock the teams had undergone the full-course caution necessary for track personnel to swap out corner workers who have been on the job since the start of the race. Those workers can go get some sleep. Teams, on the other hand, are in it for the duration. Here’s how things stood at 8o’clock Saturday night.
RA Motorsports capitalized on mistakes from its competitors to take over top two spots in E3S. RA Motorsports’ No. 40 is in first, while the team’s second car No. 35 is trailing the leader by four laps. The No. 35 car has a 2-lap lead over A+ Young and the Restless.
RA Motorsports team owner Ron Gayman said he’s glad to see his teams running at the top, but a lot can change overnight. Already competitor’s cars have gotten stuck in the mud, run out gas or fallen off the pace.
“It’s not rocket science in the sense that it is an attrition rate,” said Gayman, who has competed at endurance event the past five years. “Every year I can guarantee you that somebody will be leading this race that will end up losing and I’ve been there. The first year we were winning until 2 or 3 in the morning and we had a cam sensor failing and it took us three hours to diagnose it.”
Gayman said one of the big challenges is deciding whether to go with rain tires, and showers are expected occasionally through the night and into the early morning.
Honda Racing THRW 2 continues to hold its lead, outpacing second-place car MPACT Racing and the other cars in the EO class.
Honda Racing THRW 2 took the lead about an hour into the endurance race and hasn’t looked back as the team has built a 15-lap lead. Dig Motorsports is in third, trailing the leader by 32 laps. Honda Racing THRW is fielding two teams with the sister car currently sitting in fourth place.
If the standings hold, it would be the highest finish for the Honda Racing THRW team since they started racing the Hours of Thunderhill in 2017.
Team Bullet Performance remained in first place in E1 as of 8 o’clock, but Team FLIR Vision Racing has made significant gains and had advanced from two laps down, and is now on the same lap, 40 some seconds behind Team Bullet Performance. In third, Team El Dorado Motorsports CRX is also still in the hunt, just three laps behind.
TAPG Motorsports is a team of engineers from Toyota’s Arizona Proving Ground facility, thus the team name. This year, the team has been alternating between E2 and E1, and scoring wins in both classes with consistency, strategy and speed.
Those three elements are paying off at Thunderhill because TAPG Motorsports is holding onto first place in E2, with eight laps on second place Team Slipstream-racing.com. Team Technik Competition is persistently gaining laps and has overtaken SRC-Sampson Racing for third place in E2 at the 8’oclock hour.
The E3 class is Tazio Ottis Racing’s to lose as the team now looks to see if can move up in the overall standings at the 25 Hours of Thunderhill. The team’s best lap came earlier in the day when it posted a top lap time of 2:10.461.
Lowe Group Racing extended its ES class lead to 11 laps, up from seven laps over second-place Team Valkyrie Autosport in its Nissan GT-R. Team Kleen Blast/David’s Racing Products was in third at 8 o’clock, 25 laps down to Lowe Group Racing, which also was in second place overall, one lap up on ESR team Praga Cars/Fellner Motorsports.
Turn 3 Motorsports continues to put on a convincing performance in the ESR class, holding onto first in class and first overall, up by seven laps over second place Praga Cars/Fellner Motorsports, which also was third overall at 8 o’clock. K2R Motorsports, which is campaigning a Ligier JS-P3 Prototype was holding onto third place, one lap up on fourth at the 8 o’clock hour.
Team Frasun Racing has managed to hold its GT Challenge class lead over the over the last three hours, and is now two laps up on second-place team Flying Lizard Toyo Tires, which advanced from third to second between the hours of 5 and 8 o’clock. Team Precision Driving Tech was in second at 5 o’clock, but is now down to third place with mechanical issues and many laps to make up.