It might be reasonable for Team El Diablo Motorsports to come into the 25 Hours of Thunderhill with optimistic expectations. The team won the E0 class in 2012, 2014 and 2015 and took third in 2016. You now can add the year 2018 to the wins column for Team El Diablo. The team took the E0 win again in December.
The effort was largely mistake-free, a testament to the crew, but the one mistake that cost them early on was running out of gas. They had to wait to be towed in, which cost them several laps. Luckily for the team — or by design — their car was faster than nearly everyone else in E0.
“We had way more pace than the rest of the field, so we could basically dial it up and dial it down as we needed,” said driver Brian Ghidnelli. “So, the last six or seven hours, we had been basically turning laps to manage the gap, thanks to what we did in the first half of the race. I was sick the first half of the race, so I drove very little. My co-drivers Scott, Lance and Andre did a ton of double and triple stints to make up the difference. So, then I could get in at the end to relieve them and run the last couple of hours.”
Fresh from the total loss of its car at Sonoma Raceway, Team Das Boot Motorsports showed up at Thunderhill with a fresh M235i. According to driver John Capestro-Dubets, the team reached out to people who were willing to help and made the new car a reality for the team. At the end of the race, the car had some rubber marks on it, but nothing a little Mothers R3 wouldn’t fix.
“We had zero incidents and zero penalties. Unfortunately, we just didn’t have the outright pace for El Diablo. They’re a little bit lighter than us, so they’re just quicker, a little more nimble than us,” Capestro-Dubets explained. “When we do the prep, it’s not just the car. It’s the drivers and how we’re going to play the drivers if certain things happen. And this was one of those races where everything just seemed to happen like clockwork. Unfortunately, we didn’t have the on-track pace.”
After a win in 2016 and a third-place finish in 2017, Team Valkyrie Autosport was looking to put its 370Z back on top in 2018. Starting from the fifth row, the team looked good early on till a charging issue that killed the battery and the lights required the team to pull in and spend 40 minutes fixing the problem. After that, they had no contact or penalties, and the pit stops were all scheduled, but the team didn’t get close enough to take the win, just seven laps behind El Diablo.
“Other than that, the car ran like a top, just gas and tires. I think we had one scheduled brake pad change and that was it,” said driver Jeremy Croiset. “We had good, consistent drives from the guys, and we didn’t catch a few breaks we were hoping to with traffic and full-course cautions, but in the end, we brought home a third-place finish for the Team Toyo Tires/Valkyrie Autosport Nissan 370Z.”