The Toyo Tires/Flying Lizard Motorsports Audi had taken the overall and ES class win in 2016 and 2015, and it came to Thunderhill in 2017 looking for a three-peat. Only one other team has done that in the history of the race. Team Mercer Motorsports won overall in 2009, 2010 and 2011.
Making the prospect of a three-peat even more difficult was Team Ryno Racing, which had returned with two Ginetta G57 prototypes that dominated the 2016 race until Sunday morning when both cars pitted for repairs due to right rear sub-axle failures.
Both Ryno cars were posting lap times as much as 6 seconds quicker, and at midnight, Ryno Racing 2 had a three-lap lead. However, both Ryno cars suffered enough setbacks through Sunday morning that put them out of contention for class and overall wins.
By sunrise Sunday morning, Flying Lizard had a four-lap lead over Ryno Racing and two laps on ES competitor Calvert Dynamics/Competition Motorsports. With just an hour left to go, driver Nate Stacey spun in Turn 3. More than a minute passed before Stacey got it going and powered through to take the win.
“On paper, we shouldn’t have won,” said driver Darren Law, who was quick to thank the Flying Lizard crew. “We didn’t change our strategy or our pace throughout the race. Just like any long-distance race, you run and you stay out of trouble and the racing doesn’t start till the next day.”
Taking second in ES and second overall was the Calvert Dynamics/Competition Motorsports Porsche GT3. In their first effort at the 25 Hours of Thunderhill, the team jumped in fully committed.
“The preparation, I would say, was the key to this. Bob Faieta at Competition Motorsports, he’s been working on this with me for the past four to six months, getting it ready,” said driver Preston Calvert. “It was a fantastic event. I think it’s very well organized, and the way the rules are enforced takes a little getting used to, but it’s well engineered and I’ll definitely try to come back.”
Bringing home third place was Team Prototype Development Group, a team that campaigns a Factory Five GTM. Driver Carl Rydquist, who has been with the team for several years, developed a plan for the team and stuck with it.
“These are some really fast cars that we’re up against, state of the art and European machinery and here we are, American made, garage-built and I think this kind of embodies NASA,” Rydquist said. “But we’re super happy and thankful to Mendeola gearboxes, Road Racing engineering, Champion spark plugs, Coldcock Whiskey and all the support for this car.”