For the last several years, the overall winner has gridded in ES class. ES cars don’t usually have the pace that ESR cars do, but they compensate for what they lack in comparative speed with greater durability.
That was true in 2015 when the Toyo Tires/Flying Lizard Motorsports Audi R8 cranked out 690 laps during a rain-soaked race that was one of the more challenging in recent memory. In 2016, the Lizard team faced off against two LS-powered Ginettas from Ryno Racing, which had the speed, running times upward of 4 seconds faster per lap faster.
The Ginettas also looked durable, and they held the overall lead all of Saturday and throughout the night. Twenty-three hours into the race, the Ginettas were running first and third overall. Sunday morning, both Ginettas had a right rear hub fail within a couple of hours of each other. That brought the leading Ginetta into the pits for repairs. By the time the team fixed the car, they were many laps down to the Audi R8, which, in the interim, had incurred a 15-minute penalty for avoidable contact.
While the Audi sat and waited — and waited — the Ginetta just kept clicking off laps. In the end, it wasn’t enough, and the Audi R8 won ES by 21 laps, and took the overall victory by six laps — it’s second consecutive overall win.
“We weren’t the outright quickest, and the Ginettas this year were super reliable. We couldn’t have beaten them without a little bit of luck, but we took care of everything. There’s not a scratch on this car,” said driver Dion Von Moltke. “We also had a bit of reliability problems with the fuel pump, so for the last two hours, when the Ginetta had problems, we had to start pitting at about a half a tank of fuel because we were having fuel pickup issues.”
The Flying Lizard sister car, a 2008 Porsche 997 assembled from spare parts in the team’s headquarters, took home second place despite significant transmission problems.
“Unfortunately, we lost fifth gear about eight hours into the race and ran with four gears for 17 hours. We only lost about 2 seconds a lap on average,” said driver Charlie Hayes.
The Porsche was quick enough to outpace the Lamborghini campaigned by CLP Motorsports, which had pro drivers, including Tanner Foust and Tyler McQuarrie. The Lambo held its own, despite a lack of preparation for serious endurance duty.
“This is a Gallardo Super Trofeo. It’s a sprint car,” McQuarrie said. “They have 45-minute races, and we didn’t do anything to it. It doesn’t have fuel reserve, it doesn’t have a bigger tank. There’s a lot of stuff we could have done to this to make it a little bit better for this race, but we didn’t have time.”
In the end, some minor problems relegated the Lambo to a third-place finish.