The front row for the start of the race was a pair of Ryno Racing Ginettas, which were large — in a literal and figurative sense. These brutes loomed over everything in the ESR class and dwarfed some of the smaller production vehicles in the numbered classes. Powered by General Motors’ LS V8s, the Ginettas were proverbial guns in a knife fight. They were in a strong position for outright victory.
The Ginettas came out swinging, leading by two laps two hours in, four laps four hours in and so forth over the Flying Lizard team, its main competition for the overall win. By sunrise the next morning, the Ginettas were six laps up on both the Lizard cars, showing no signs of slowing. Then, within a couple of hours of each other, both cars suffered right rear hub failures.
The Ryno Racing crew was johnny-on-the-spot, fixing both cars in the pits in time to get them back out, but by then it was too late. The Flying Lizard Audi R8 had taken the overall lead, which it held till the end. That left both Ginettas to take one and two in ESR.
“We had a really good lead throughout most of the race, so it was gut-wrenching to have it kind of slip away there at the end, but you know, that’s what these races are about,” said ESR winning driver Colin Braun. “They’re long, tough grueling races for a reason.”
Ryno driver Parker Chase finished second, with nothing but praise for his crew and the cars they chose for Thunderhill.
“It’s really easy to drive. It has a lot of downforce,” Chase said. “I drive the Ginetta G55 in Pirelli World Challenge so coming from that, I just have to get used to all the downforce that this thing makes and the power. Thursday and Friday was really a big learning experience for me. This whole weekend was all learning for me. I had never done any endurance racing or anything. It was fun. I loved it.”
In third place in ESR, Team One Motorsports/Crowd Strike had overcome issues of its own, having replaced an engine and transmission assembly early Saturday night. In the end, they finished 74 laps behind the lead car. When driver Kenton Koch jumped in the car after the repairs were complete, he had his work cut out for him.
“The objective is definitely to push and not take risks, but to try to make up as many positions as possible,” Koch said. “I was able to get in and bring it up to about 20th, and we were there for a while, and brought it up to 12th and we just picked away at it, slow and steady.”